A Louisiana park is being sued for ‘mistreating’ a chimp who allegedly spends her days “staring into space, drinking Coca-Cola, and smoking cigarettes thrown to her by patrons.”
According to an animal protection group’s lawsuit, a Louisiana theme park’s chimpanzee is so isolated and neglected, she spends her days drinking Coca-Cola and smoking cigarettes given to her by park visitors.
Reports Big Story, the Dixie Landin’ theme park and its owner, Sam Hayes, is being sued by the Animal Legal Defense Fund for violating the Endangered Species Act by keeping the chimp, named Candy, isolated and neglected.
Candy, who is now in her fifties, is described by the group as “the country’s loneliest chimpanzee”. Allegedly, she “subsists in a virtually barren concrete cage, where she passes her time staring into space, drinking Coca-Cola, and smoking cigarettes thrown to her by patrons.”
The suit states:
”Defendants have for decades allowed members of the general public to throw items into Candy’s cage, including lit cigarettes that Candy smokes. Just as with humans, cigarette smoking is very harmful for chimpanzees.”
“Defendants provide Candy exclusively with Coca-Cola instead, claiming that Candy does not like water. However, Candy has readily accepted and drunk water offered to her by visiting experts. Water, not Coca-Cola, is an essential requirement for chimpanzees.”
The chimp has suffered physical and psychological harms as a result of her living conditions at the park, the Animal Legal Defense Fund says.
“This is a landmark case for animal protection,“ said Stephen Wells, the Executive Director of the advocacy group. “Chimpanzees don’t deserve to suffer in punishing isolation, and we will see that justice is served.”
Jennifer Treadway-Morris, the attorney for the park’s owner, said she has not had time to read the lawsuit but doesn’t believe a change of setting would benefit the chimp as a previous attempt to relocate Candy to the Baton Rouge Zoo failed.
“She was returned because she couldn’t adjust and couldn’t assimilate,” Treadway-Morris said. “It seems that if they want her to have company, she doesn’t want it.”
This has done little to satiate Cathy Breaux, 62, and Holly Reynolds, 96, who have been campaigning for decades to get Candy moved from the Dixie Landin’ park and its predecessor.
The two have witnessed people flinging lit cigarettes into the cage for the bored and depressed primate to smoke. Their aim is for her to be relocated so she can connect with other chimps.
Famed primatologist Jane Goodall is also in favor of relocating the chimp. She is quoted in the lawsuit as saying “I strongly recommend that [Candy] be introduced to other chimpanzees in a setting more suitable to her psychological enhancement.”
It is the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s request that Candy should be relocated to the Chimp Haven sanctuary in Louisiana where she can interact with other chimpanzees and live her life outside of a cage.
2015 by Amanda Froelich
Photo Credit: Animal Legal Defense Fund