On Sunday, November 19 a large crowd gathered outside the roadside zoo Monkey Jungle in Miami to demand a better life for the animals there.
For 28 years, “King” the gorilla has lived a cruel, solitary existence at Monkey Jungle. “Mei,” the only orangutan at Monkey Jungle, is confined to a barren, concrete enclosure when on exhibit (her off-exhibit cage is even worse). In a story that made headlines in early November, four former employees revealed that monkeys and birds at Monkey Jungle are also suffering from neglect and abuse. Photos taken by a former employee show filthy living conditions for the animals at Monkey Jungle (click here and here to read the Miami Herald’s reporting about the former employees allegations).
It is clear that Monkey Jungle is unable to provide the care that animals deserve.
In 1997, a campaign was launched to persuade Monkey Jungle to send King to Zoo Atlanta, where he could be with other gorillas. Zoo Atlanta has had success in rehabilitating previously solitary gorillas and transitioning them into a gorilla family. But despite Zoo Atlanta’s invitation and pleas from noted primatologist Jane Goodall, TV personality Bob Barker, and thousands of Florida residents, Monkey Jungle has refused. Gorillas and other apes are intelligent animals with complex social and emotional lives. Gorillas are best-off when they are in social situations. King needs companions and this continued solitary confinement is cruel and psychologically damaging. Read our previous post about King here.
You Can Help
You can help by asking Monkey Jungle to transfer King and Mei, at the very least, to a reputable sanctuary or zoo where they could receive proper care and live out the remainder of their lives with companionship and dignity. Write to:
The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) asking for an immediate investigation of Monkey Jungle. ARFF believes that the conditions depicted in the photos violates federal Animal Welfare Act regulations. Please contact the USDA and ask that they investigate Monkey Jungle and ensure that it provides animals with adequate veterinary care, and that the animals there are housed in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act. Urge the USDA to hold Monkey Jungle fully accountable for any violations discovered during its investigation.
United States Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
“The One and Only Ivan,” a new movie now streaming on Disney+, tells the true story of a gorilla who was captured in the wild in Africa and then put on display inside a shopping center in Tacoma, Washington, where “Ivan” spent 27 years living by himself in a barren cage. In 1994, following a campaign led by the Progressive Animal Welfare Society, Ivan was moved to Zoo Atlanta where he lived among other gorillas in a more natural environment. Ivan died in 2012 at the age of 50.
Inspired by the “Free Ivan” campaign, in 1997 the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) launched a similar effort on behalf of King, a gorilla who lives a cruel, solitary existence at the roadside zoo Monkey Jungle in Miami. (Monkey Jungle has been closed to visitors since March.)
ARFF urged Monkey Jungle to also send King to Zoo Atlanta, where he could live out the remainder of his life with companionship and dignity. But despite Zoo Atlanta’s invitation and pleas from primatologist Jane Goodall, TV personality Bob Barker, and thousands of Florida residents, Monkey Jungle refused. (photo: Bob Barker led a march to Monkey Jungle in 1998)
Of the approximately 350 gorillas in zoos in the United States, King is believed to be the only one who lives alone. King has lived without companions since 1989, when a female gorilla at Monkey Jungle died.
Gorillas are intelligent animals with complex social and emotional lives. King, now 50 years old, deserves to spend his final years with other gorillas.
More than 5 million businesses and charities across the country have received loans as part of the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, a program intended to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and keep employees on the payroll. In early July the Small Business Administration (SBA) released a list of businesses that received potentially forgivable loans ranging from $150,000 to $10 million (businesses receiving less than 150K were not named). The SBA disclosed a range for each loan, so we do not know exact dollar amounts. Many of the businesses that received large loans may make animal lovers question the government bailout:
The Zimbal Minkery in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, which may be the largest mink farm in North America, received a loan between $150,000 and $350,000.
Hudson Valley Foie Gras, the largest foie gras farm in the U.S., received between $1 million and $2 million. Another foie gras producer, La Belle Farm, received at least $350,000. Both farms are located in Sullivan County, New York. According to SBA data, neither farm stated that the money would preserve a single job. (The purpose of the Paycheck Protection Program is to help businesses retain employees.)
Hillandale Farms, one of the largest egg producers in the country, received a loan as large as $1 million.
Petland, the nation’s “largest retail supporter of puppy mills,” according to the Humane Society of the United States, received between $2-5 million (0.5% of all loans were between $2-5 million, according to the SBA). Smaller pet stores that sell puppy mill dogs also received loans, such as the TeaCups, Puppies & Boutique store in Davie, Florida (between $150,000-350,000).
SeaQuest, a company with a history of poor animal care at its aquariums inside malls across the country, received a multimillion-dollar loan.
Monkey Jungle, a roadside zoo outside Miami that has long attracted controversy, received between $150,000-350,000. Monkey Jungle has been closed to visitors since March.
The UniverSoul Circus and Carden International Circus, two circuses that pre-COVID were traveling with elephants and other wild animals, received between $350,000-$1 million each.
The St. Petersburg Kennel Club (known as Derby Lane), one of only a few greyhound tracks still operating in Florida, received as much as $5 million. Live greyhound racing in Florida must end by December 31, thanks to a 2018 referendum approved by voters to ban the cruel industry.
World Wide Primates, a Miami-based laboratory animal supplier owned by a twice-convicted felon, received between $350,000-1 million, even though the company has also been awarded over $4 million in federal contracts since the beginning of the year. Marshall BioResources (North Rose, NY) and Ridglan Farms (Blue Mounds, WI), two companies that breed and sell beagles and other animals for research, received $2-5 million and $150,000-350,000 respectfully. Envigo, a notorious animal testing lab that used to be known as Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), received $5-10 million, the maximum loan amount.
Safari Club International Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the trophy-hunting organization, received between $150,000-350,000 from the loan program.
There is good news for those despairing over this use of taxpayer dollars! The Paycheck Protection Program also benefited businesses and organizations that are making the world a better place for animals:
Hundreds of animal shelters and rescue groups across the country benefited from the loan program, such as the Humane Society of Greater Miami and the Humane Society of Broward County, which each received more than $350,000.
PETA and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, two leading animal rights organizations, each received loans between $2-5 million.
Mercy for Animals, an organization dedicated to protecting farmed animals, received a loan between $350,000-$1 million.
Vegan Outreach, the National Anti-Vivisection Society, the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society each received between $150,000-350,000 to support their education and outreach efforts, care for rescued animals, and keep their boats in the water.
Plant-based food manufacturers received help from the Paycheck Protection Program. Turtle Island Foods (Tofurky) received $2-5 million to support its 200+ employees. JUST, makers of egg and mayo alternatives, received $2-5 million. Miyoko’s Creamery, known for their delicious vegan cheeses and butter, received $1-2 million to support the growing business.
Vegan restaurant chains Veggie Grill ($2-5 million) and Real Food Daily ($350,000-$1 million) were among many plant-based eating establishments that received funding.
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On Saturday, February 22, Monkey Jungle in Miami will host an “African Ape Awareness Festival” featuring talks by conservationists, dance and drama performances, and a fashion show. The goal of the festival is to raise awareness of endangered chimpanzees and gorillas in Africa. But there is one African ape closer to home who deserves greater public awareness.
For 25 years a gorilla named King has lived a solitary existence at Monkey Jungle. Of the approximately 360 gorillas in zoos in the United States, King may be the only one who lives alone and who has no prospect of ever having a companion*.
In March 1989 a female gorilla named Mitzie died at Monkey Jungle. Since then, King has remained alone–despite the efforts of animal advocates.
In 1997, a campaign was launched to persuade Monkey Jungle to send King to Zoo Atlanta, where he could be with other gorillas. But despite Zoo Atlanta’s invitation and pleas from noted primatologist Jane Goodall and thousands of Florida residents, Monkey Jungle refused.
Instead, after languishing for years in a concrete-and-bars cage, in 2001 Monkey Jungle built a naturalistic enclosure where King is at least able to feel the sun and breath fresh air. Although the larger enclosure was an improvement, it is unclear how much time King actually spends in the enclosure, and Monkey Jungle continues to ignore the issue that King is alone. Gorillas and other apes are intelligent animals with complex social and emotional lives.
During King’s daily shows at Monkey Jungle, he performs degrading tricks such as the Hokey-Pokey for the amusement of tourists. King will turn 45 this year.
Please ask Monkey Jungle to transfer King to a respected zoo where he could live out the remainder of his life with companionship and dignity. Contact: