A Florida man known as “The Monkey Whisperer” is in trouble with the feds for the second time this year.
Jimmy Wayne Hammonds owns “The Monkey Whisperer LLC,” a business he uses to breed and sell primates and other exotic animals. Hammonds' business is licensed out of a home in Cottonwood, Alabama, and he also owns a facility in Parrish, Florida.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture cited Hammonds with seven violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act based on a Sept. 2 inspection of the Alabama location of The Monkey Whisperer.
A USDA inspector found ruffed lemurs living in an enclosure with an excessive amount of old feces and the ground was soiled. A lemur enclosure and a marmoset enclosure were infested with red ants that were “tracking inside of the enclosures to the old food and feces.”
Inspectors found a bag of primate pellets that was left open and infested with insects. “The feed had been contaminated and was no longer appropriate for [the] consumption of the animals,” according to the report.
In a marmoset enclosure, the only den box available to the animals was a plastic bucket and the rim and edges were rough and damaged, according to the USDA report. The squirrel monkey enclosure had a drum on the top level as a den box and the drum was dirty and had feces smeared on it. Inspectors were unable to view the inside of the drum but an employee said it had not been removed to clean it out.
The inspector found that the only type of enrichment in the primate enclosures were perches.
“The ruffed lemurs had a wood beam and the squirrel monkeys had a rope and a wood ledge going around the cage,” according to the USDA report. “There weren't any other types of enrichment in the enclosures at the time of the inspection.”
The facility also did not have a written enrichment plan for the primates. Enrichment plans are required for primates at USDA licensed facilities to promote their psychological well-being.
Hammonds did not have a program of veterinary care in place for his animals and he had not made formal arrangements with an attending veterinarian, according to the USDA report.
The Monkey Whisperer was also cited for recordkeeping violations.
“The facility did not have the acquisition forms or any information showing the inventory of any of the animals on hand except for one monkey,” according to the USDA report.
Earlier this year Hammonds was charged with conspiracy, trafficking, and submitting a false record in violation of the Lacey Act, a federal law involving the illegal trade in wildlife, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release. Hammonds was also charged with violations of the Endangered Species Act and witness tampering.
Hammonds conspired to sell a capuchin monkey to a buyer in California even though that buyer couldn’t legally possess it, according to the indictment. Hammonds also facilitated the transport of the monkey from Florida to California.
The DOJ also alleges Hammonds illegally sold cotton top tamarins to buyers in Alabama, South Carolina and Wisconsin. Cotton top tamarins are an endangered species and their sale across state lines is a violation of the Endangered Species Act.
If convicted, Hammonds faces up to 20 years in prison on witness tampering, five years in prison on each of the conspiracy and Lacey Act counts and up to one year in prison on each of the endangered species counts.
Sept. 2021 USDA Inspection Report for The Monkey Whisperer, LLC: