Press Release

Landmark Lawsuit Filed to Free Candy the Chimpanzee from Decades-Long Solitary Confinement at Louisiana Amusement Park

Park violating Endangered Species Act by isolating and neglecting endangered chimp


Candy, chimp

Baton Rouge, LA — Today the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s leading legal advocacy organization for animals, filed a lawsuit against Sam Haynes and the Dixie Landin’ amusement park for inhumanely confining Candy, a 50-year old chimpanzee who has been alone for more than 40 years.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund alleges Haynes and Dixie Landin’ violate the Endangered Species Act by isolating and neglecting Candy. The groundbreaking suit would extend important legal protections to chimpanzees, who experts agree can suffer and experience in ways similar to humans and deserve special protections.

Candy, the country’s loneliest chimpanzee, subsists in a virtually barren concrete cage, where she passes her time staring into space, drinking Coca-Cola, and smoking cigarettes thrown to her by patrons.

Candy’s living conditions are grossly deficient and cause intense physical and psychological harm. Chimps are a social and intelligent species, and need the companionship of other chimpanzees and opportunities for enrichment. Candy has none of that, and experiences painful and punishing solitary confinement, which has been condemned by world-renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall and comparative psychologist Dr. Roger Fouts.

Video footage acquired by Animal Legal Defense Fund shows Candy sitting in the corner of her cage for hours at a time, starring into space—a sign of severe depression. She has been known to rock back and forth—what animal behaviorist call “stereotypic behavior,” which is symptomatic of poor welfare, severe stress, or even mental illness.

On other occasions, she curls up into the fetal position on the concrete floor.

“This is a landmark case for animal protection,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “Chimpanzees don’t deserve to suffer in punishing isolation, and we will see that justice is served.”

The Animal Legal Defense Fund represents Cathy Breaux and Holly Reynolds, two long-time Baton Rouge animal advocates who have fought for Candy’s freedom for three decades, as well as the Coalition of Louisiana Animal Advocates.

Chimp Haven, a nationally renowned chimpanzee sanctuary located in Louisiana, stands ready to provide Candy with a new home in a naturalistic enclosure that is suited to her physical, behavioral, and psychological needs, with expert veterinary care.

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