Lawsuit seeks to save chimp from solitary confinement
A September rule revision by a federal regulatory agency makes clear that a Louisiana amusement park is violating the Endangered Species Act by keeping a chimpanzee in solitary confinement in a barren enclosure, a lawsuit says.
Filed Tuesday in federal court in Baton Rouge, the complaint (PDF) by the Animal Legal Defense Fund says Dixie Landin’ and its owner have violated the ESA both by holding Candy in captivity for decades and through the conditions in which she lives, which constitutes harassment under the federal statute.
The complaint says the amusement park and owner-operator Samuel B. Haynes Jr. have been cited for multiple violations of applicable animal welfare laws. That includes the ESA, after the September elimination of a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service rule that formerly said the statute did not apply to captive chimpanzees.
The suit seeks a declaratory judgment and the transfer of the chimpanzee to a sanctuary where she can live with other chimps in a more enriching environment that includes appropriate food and veterinary care. It also asks for attorney fees and costs.
The plaintiffs include two women who have long advocated for better conditions for Candy.
According to the suit, the chimp displays a number of troubling behaviors showing how stressed and depressed she is, such as staring into space and rocking, and she is subjected to excessive temperatures in the summer and forced to sleep without adequate nesting material. Amidst these deprivations, she is provided with Coca-Cola to drink, and visitors throw lighted cigarettes into her cage. She picks up the cigarettes and drags on them, the suit says.
A Shreveport Times article about the lawsuit doesn’t include any comment from Haynes or the amusement park.
Headline revised at 4:40 p.m.