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The Animal Legal Defense Fund is suing a New Orleans amusement park that allegedly lets its chimp smoke cigarettes and drink Coca Cola. The rights group is using a new law that classifies captive chimpanzees as endangered, just like those in the wild.
It is reportedly the first suit of its kind. The chimp's name is Candy and the suit, filed this week in Baton Rouge, states that she is lonely and needs company. Also, plaintiffs argue, she shouldn't be smoking and drinking Cokes. Some locals have sought to have Candy moved for decades, according to the Associated Press. The adjusted Endangered Species Act provided a legal basis for another attempt.
Endangered Species Act
The lawsuit is reportedly the first filed under a new federal rule that requires captive chimps get the same protection as wild chimps, said Carter Dillard, attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. That rule, which was made public in June and took effect in September, changes captive chimps' classification from threatened to endangered, putting them in the same category as wild chimpanzees.
When contacted by reporters for a response, the amusement park owner's attorney, Jennifer Treadway-Morris, said she had not yet read the lawsuit but that she did not believe that government agency rules, like those of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, could be applied retroactively. She pointed out that prior attempts to remove Candy from the park and place her with other chimps had failed.
She said that veterinarians had tried to retire Candy before but found that she could not assimilate. "It seems that if they want her to have company, she doesn't want it."
Water, Not Coca-Cola
City animal control officials cited the park in 2012 for not giving Candy the chimp water, according to the suit. "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."