ALDF Urges Lancaster Mayor to Drop Abusive Chimpanzee ‘Trainer’ From California Poppy Festival

Posted on April 19, 2006

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) sent an urgent letter to Lancaster Mayor Frank Roberts this week, urging him to respect the spirit of
Earth Day–and protect the safety of his community–by dropping chimpanzee “trainer” Sid Yost from the roster for this weekend’s
California Poppy Festival. Yost, who is currently the subject of a lawsuit filed by ALDF and several other plaintiffs based on eyewitness
accounts of him regularly and viciously beating several chimpanzees in his possession in order to “train” them for television and public appearances, has a long history of being fined and placed on probation for animal-related offenses. Yost fled the state of Tennessee after an animal he was exhibiting bit a child, and many people have been bitten by the chimpanzees in his possession.

A counterclaim filed by Yost against ALDF was recently thrown out by the court in response to a motion filed by ALDF, which argued that Yost’s claim was a “strategic lawsuit against public participation” (SLAPP) attempting to silence the animal protection group from speaking out about his violent “training” methods, including savagely beating a chimpanzee with a large stick until it broke across the animal’s back. The judge’s written orders in response to ALDF’s anti-SLAPP motion noted that “animal welfare is an issue of public interest,” and ordered Yost to pay the group’s attorney’s fees related to his counterclaim.

“The California Poppy Festival–historically tied to Earth Day–is a celebration of our planet and its diversity of plants and animals. It’s no place to promote a man who is a danger both to animals and the general public,” says the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Executive Director Stephen Wells. “Mayor Roberts can show his respect for the spirit of this event by refusing to condone Yost’s ongoing abuse of chimpanzees for the sake of profit and ‘entertainment.’”

ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and defending the interests of animals through the legal system. For more information, please visit ALDF’s website. A copy of ALDF’s letter to Mayor Roberts can be downloaded here.

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