The charity claims that the foundation’s care for the chimps violates the Endangered Species Act and that the chimps are denied everything that is natural and important to them.
Missouri Primate Foundation says PETA’s allegations are false, and their actions are solely motivated by the group’s political agenda.
It seeks exemplary damages for defamation and a restraining order against Angela Scott, PETA’s employee and a former “volunteer” at the Primate Foundation.
While working as a volunteer at the MPF, Scott acted as an undercover agent, taking videos, photographs and supplying confidential information for PETA’s threatened lawsuit.
Such activity led to a severe threat to the Primate Foundation president and various cyber attacks.
PETA Foundation director of captive animal law enforcement Brittany Peet said: “Rather than seeking to prevent PETA from filing a lawsuit to help these animals, the Missouri Primate Foundation should consider their best interests and immediately retire them to an accredited sanctuary that will allow them to lead their own lives as individuals, rather than being warehoused as former photo and party props.”
The Endangered Species Act makes it illegal for anyone, with certain exceptions, to “take” endangered fish or wildlife.
The Primate Foundation claims PETA bases its false findings on the “harass” and “harm” elements in the definition of “take” in the Endangered Species Act.
According to the Dec 30 lawsuit, the Endangered Species Act defines harass as “an intentional or negligent act or omission which creates the likelihood of injury to wildlife by annoying it to such an extent as to significantly disrupt normal behavioral patterns which include, but are not limited to, breeding, feeding, or sheltering,”
It defines harm as, “an act which actually kills or injures wildlife. Such an act may include significant habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding or sheltering”.
Currently, the Primate Foundation, cares for at least 16 chimpanzees, who are named in the complaint.
It seeks declaratory judgment that its care for the chimps is not defined as “taking” under the ESA, an injunction against the threatened lawsuit, exemplary damages for defamation and costs.