A chimpanzee has disappeared from the DeYoung Family Zoo in the past three months, according to a newly obtained U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection report.
The DeYoung Zoo is a roadside zoo in Wallace, Michigan, owned by Harold "Bud" DeYoung and Carrie Cramer. For the past two years DeYoung Zoo has kept a large portion of their zoo closed to the public, including all of the primate exhibits.
On November 9, 2021, the USDA completed an inspection of DeYoung Zoo and documented eight chimpanzees at the facility. On February 16, 2022, the USDA conducted another inspection of DeYoung Zoo and counted only seven chimpanzees, indicating a chimpanzee disappeared from the DeYoung Zoo in that three-month span.
The chimpanzee is one of more than 50 animals that have disappeared from DeYoung Zoo in the past two years, records show.
From March-May 2020 Wisconsin’s now-closed Special Memories Zoo sent 31 animals to DeYoung Zoo. The animals were transferred in order to circumvent a lawsuit brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and prevent ALDF from placing them at accredited sanctuaries.
Out of the 31 Special Memories Zoo animals sent to DeYoung Zoo, 16 of the animals are suspected to be missing, according to USDA inspection reports. The missing animals include one black leopard, two tigers, two lions, two wolves, two snow macaques, one ring-tailed lemur, one Tonkean macaque, one hamadryas baboon, two vervet monkeys, one spider monkey and one brown bear.
The black leopard, tigers, lions and ring-tailed lemur are endangered species and their transportation across state lines was a violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), according to ALDF.
“Some of the animals were transported across state lines to a zoo in Michigan where they were exhibited to the public for compensation, in apparent violation of the ESA’s prohibition on transporting ESA-protected animals in interstate commerce without a valid permit,” ALDF wrote in a brief in January 2022.
Records provided by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and the USDA indicate other animals have disappeared from DeYoung Zoo in the past two years including two rabbits, two cows, three foxes, 12 sheep, four North American river otters, four white-tailed deer, two Virginia opossums, two Japanese macaques, one groundhog, two Sulawesi crested macaques, one Prevost's squirrel, one mountain coatimundi, five New Guinea singing dogs, one snow leopard and two zebras.
Chimpanzees are an endangered species. The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) has been representing a chimpanzee named Tommy since 2013, according to a blog on their website.
In 2015, Tommy was sent to DeYoung Zoo where NhRP suspected Tommy was still imprisoned in 2022. It is unclear whether the chimpanzee that recently disappeared from DeYoung Zoo is Tommy. What is clear is that DeYoung Zoo has a well-documented history of making endangered species disappear.