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Alan Cumming’s Missing Chimpanzee Co-Star Tonka Has Been Found and Rescued

The ape starred with Cumming in the 1997 biopic Buddy

alan cumming chimp tonka chimpanzee buddy legal news rescued peta
Tonka the chimp (Save the Chimps) and Buddy (Columbia Tristar Pictures)
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    Finally, some good news: Tonka — the chimpanzee who appeared alongside Alan Cumming in the 1997 biopic Buddy — has been rescued after going missing for over a year. PETA announced this week that the 38-year-old primate was found, after the organization won a years-long battle with his former owner Tonia Haddix. The Hollywood icon is now able to roam, play, and eat copious amounts of fruit in his new home at the Save the Chimps sanctuary in Florida.

    “I feel so emotional about this great news,” Cumming wrote in a statement. “When I met Tonka while filming the movie Buddy, I made a true friend, and I was honored that he thought of me as a fellow chimp. I’m dancing a jig that PETA has rescued Tonka from the woman who locked him away alone in a basement and lied about it. The thought of Tonka being able to wander free and happy at Save the Chimps’ lush, spacious sanctuary for the rest of his life has me singing a happy song.”

    Tonka — whose film credits also include the Brandon Fraser-starring George of the Jungle — was reported missing after PETA won a 2021 lawsuit against Missouri Primate Foundation, where he was last seen. PETA alleged that Tonka and six other chimpanzees “had been warehoused in often filthy, virtually barren enclosures,” with the court granting them permission to move the seven apes to a sanctuary in July 2021.

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    The case got stickier when Haddix testified shortly thereafter that Tonka had died and his remains were cremated. But the court, PETA, and Cumming didn’t find her defense credible; the actor even offered a $10,000 reward for the safe return of his former co-star. Eventually, Tonka was found in a tiny cage in Haddix’s basement, where he was completely isolated and deprived of the great outdoors.

    Now, like the former child star he is, Tonka is free to live in the lap of grassy luxury.

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