Joe went from fame to shame.
After performing for Steve Martin’s Working Wildlife, which has provided animals for films like Pirates of the Caribbean and Water for Elephants, Joe the chimpanzee was dumped inside a tiny enclosure at a zoo in Mobile, Alabama. After languishing in this sad, solitary confinement for far too long, Joe has finally been moved to a new home.
He was recently transferred to Save the Chimps sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida, where he has a huge enclosure full of engaging toys and an adoring cage mate name Geraldine. Joe was so happy to have a friend, that he gave Geraldine a huge hug minutes after moving in.
This drastic life shift was all thanks to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who filed a lawsuit in January 2016 against the zoo, alleging that isolating a social creature like Joe in poor conditions, where he was taunted by guests, was an obvious violation of the Endangered Species Act. PETA eventually agreed to drop the lawsuit in exchange for the zoo releasing Joe to his new home.
“Chimpanzees used by the entertainment industry are routinely discarded at shoddy roadside zoos like the Mobile Zoo the second they are no longer profitable babies,” PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet said in an email statement. “After 17 years of loneliness, this chimpanzee’s story has a happy ending at last, but PETA is calling on Hollywood producers not to create another sad tale — and leave live chimpanzees out of their projects.”
PETA is now working to move five other chimps who are stuck in solitary confinement at roadside zoos across the United States.