Do you have a right to know about chimpanzees in your neighborhood?
UPDATE, Oct 31, 2012: When I misjudge a situation, I am compelled to issue a correction. I asked USDA inspectors at APHIS about Mike Casey's chimpanzees living in an RV. The response from David Sacks, USDA spokesperson for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service:
Mr. Casey houses the chimps inside the RV at night, and
during the day the animals have other structures and areas in which they
reside. The enclosures inside the RV satisfy the Animal Welfare Act regulations
for enclosure space and construction. The animals themselves are doing fine, so
there are no animal welfare issues that would lead us to citing Mr. Casey for
As for the citation you mention, it was due to housekeeping
issues. [Old enrichment toys were found inside the enclosures, as well as
Adherence to USDA standards does not, however, mean that chimps should be living in a residential neighborhood. It will be interesting to see what the Clark County officials decide.
UPDATE, Oct 25, 2012: KLAS-TV in Las Vegas reports that Mike Casey is evidently keeping his entertainment chimpanzees in an RV, on residential property in a southwest Las Vegas neighborhood. The property is not zoned for commercial uses (like running a chimp rental business) and, according to the KLAS report, the Clark County Board will decide on November 20 whether the chimps can stay at the home. On May 2, 2012, the USDA cited Casey for keeping his chimpanzees in unsanitary conditions, and now he keeps them cooped up in an RV? I think USDA needs to check up on him again. It's bad enough to exploit these chimps and the monkey, but it is totally unacceptable to keep them locked in a vehicle without fresh air, sunshine, and space to move. This ought to be a crime. ORIGINAL POST, July 14, 2012 -- Readers, I’d like you to give some thought to two questions. Given the recent spate of chimpanzee rampages, I think we need a discussion… Do people deserve to know about chimpanzees living in their neighborhoods? Should you be warned when a chimpanzee is “entertaining” at a party down the street from your home?
While many neighbors knew, some who lived near Buddy and CJ, the Vegas chimpanzees who went on a rampage this week in a residential area, didn't know two big chimps were being housed in their neighborhood. (See this article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.) Many who lived near Travis, the chimp who got loose and mauled Charla Nash, didn't know about that chimp. In fact, ChimpCARE knows of 61 privately owned chimpanzees living in "undisclosed locations" in the U.S.
For instance, Kelley Wise from Anaheim, Calif., owns Pirates for Parties, which advertises chimpanzee rentals from his website. Wise doesn't own Bentley, who is pictured in the ad. Wise just rents him out. Bentley is owned by Mike Casey who, last I heard, houses this chimp (and others?) near Las Vegas. Wise’s business is legal, as is Casey's. But my questions go beyond the legalities.
Does Casey have a moral obligation to warn law enforcement and residents in Bentley’s neighborhood that he is housing exotic animals?
Does the party host ‒ the person renting Bentley ‒ have an ethical responsibility to inform law enforcement and neighbors that a chimpanzee is coming to their area?
What do you think?
Oh, by the way, if you are thinking of renting Bentley, Wise doesn’t accept phone calls. According to the website, “To book a chimp EMAIL your name, phone, address, event/production date, location and desired actions.” The address is firstname.lastname@example.org. (I won’t be emailing, because I don’t feel comfortable putting my “desired actions” for Wise or Casey into cyberspace.)