FESTUS, Mo. — Tonia Haddix is facing possible federal prosecution for her lengthy story about Tonka the Chimp. She claimed the chimp was dead when she actually locked him in her basement. In a comment on FOX 2, she didn’t apologize.
Haddix got involved in a lawsuit years ago in which animal rights group PETA was suing a chimpanzee sanctuary in Festus, Missouri, hoping to give the chimpanzees a better home. Now Haddix could face jail time for claiming one of the chimpanzees was dead so he wouldn’t be taken.
Today, Tonka the chimpanzee is reaching out to his new home in Florida with the Save the Chimps organization. Tonka is an old movie star who has appeared in films such as the 1997 comedy Buddy. In recent years, he has found himself in the midst of a dispute in federal court that led to his mysterious disappearance.
Tonia Haddix said Tonka was dead. He had been living on the Festus compound with six other chimpanzees. The animal rights organization PETA sued, claiming that the animals were not being properly cared for.
PETA arranged for all of the chimpanzees to go to a Florida shelter, except that Tonka went missing. Haddix told a federal judge he died. She repeated her claim to FOX 2 after the hearing, saying on July 14, 2021, “I found him in the cage. It was probably late Saturday night. I found him on Sunday when I was going down there.”
We followed with the question, “So you stand by the claim that Tonka is dead?”
“Yes,” said Haddix. “I will be happy to give PETA a piece of their ashes or some ashes so they can DNA test that too to make sure they know it’s chimpanzee or tonka bloodline or tonka that’s in that box. I offered to give them the ashes, but they said I couldn’t take them to federal court because of cross-contamination or something.”
Tonka was found 11 months later in a cage in the basement of Haddix’s Lake of the Ozark home.
The federal judge in the case has now filed a criminal complaint with federal prosecutors for perjury — a crime that carries a penalty of up to five years in prison if convicted.
Haddix told FOX 2 on Monday that she couldn’t speak on camera. She sent the following message: “I still stand by my promise to Tonka and I would do anything to protect him from the evil clutches of PETA and the hell hole they put him in. And if the justice system were fair, he would never have left the only home he’s ever known.”
PETA said the pictures tell the real story and that you can compare the basement cage Tonka hid in for about a year to the sanctuary in Florida, where he could choose to be inside or outside – and he could see other chimpanzees.
Haddix was due to appear in court next Wednesday for her contempt of court. That was canceled as a criminal charge of perjury is now being considered. The judge said she would postpone the contempt hearing if those charges were dismissed.
https://fox2now.com/news/fox-files/woman-denies-faking-death-of-movie-star-chimp-found-in-missouri-basement/ Woman denies faked death of movie-star chimpanzee found in Missouri basement