A baby rhesus macaque monkey that Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary purchased for $5,000 in early 2020 has never appeared at the sanctuary.
Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary is a nonprofit roadside zoo in Tyler, Texas, that is directed by B.W. Ferris and his daughter Emily Owen.
On May 4, 2020, Dwayne Aldridge of A&A Exotics in Lake City, FL, listed a baby male rhesus macaque for sale for $5,000.
Photographs posted on social media indicate that on May 11, 2020, Owen took a private chartered flight to Florida to pick up the one-week-old male rhesus macaque from Aldridge and fly the infant primate to Texas.
A Certificate of Veterinary Inspection submitted to the Texas Animal Health Division indicates that the primate was purchased by Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary, rather than by Owen.
Photos of the baby monkey appeared on several social media accounts over the first year of his life.
On June 16, 2020, Tiger Creek employee Natasha Chab posted a photo on social media of the monkey at what appears to be her home.
On June 22, 2020, photos show Owen with the monkey at what appears to be someone's home.
On July 23, 2020, Owen posted a photo on social media of the monkey sitting in her lap at Tiger Creek.
On November 16, 2020, Tiger Creek employee Derrick Servis posted a photo on social media of the monkey at what appears to be his home.
On December 7, 2020, Owen’s friend, Shauna Preston, who now goes by Shauna Martin, posted a link to a fundraiser “to raise money for a pen for … our monkey Mr. Bojangles.” Owen commented “Our monkey” on the post.
On January 15, 2021, Martin posted another photo of the monkey at her home. A follower commented to ask if Martin was fostering the monkey or if she gets to keep him.
“He can’t go anywhere hims my baby,” Martin responded.
Martin’s last post that included photos of the monkey was on March 12, 2021. No photos of the monkey have been posted publicly after that date.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture inspected Tiger Creek several times in 2021 but the baby rhesus macaque was not counted on the animal inventory or located at the facility. A USDA official said that Tiger Creek reported that the rhesus macaque they obtained as an infant in May 2020 is Owen’s personal pet and is not a sanctuary animal.
Sources say the monkey is being kept at Owen’s Flint, TX, home with her new husband, Smith County Fire Marshal Jay Brooks.
The mysterious case of the missing monkey leaves several questions unanswered.
If the monkey is Owen’s personal pet, why did Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary fund the purchase of the monkey?
Did Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary also fund Owen’s privately chartered flight to purchase the monkey?
Is it ethical for a purported sanctuary to use nonprofit funds to purchase animals; especially if those animals will not be provided with a lifelong home at the facility?
Why did the baby rhesus macaque never make it to Tiger Creek?
On January 10, 2022, the Animal Legal Defense Fund sent notice of their intent to sue Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary under the Endangered Species Act. Among the organization’s complaints is that the facility obtained six tigers from Doc Antle’s Myrtle Beach Safari in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and transported them across state lines without the applicable permits.
B.W. Ferris, who founded the sanctuary, is running for Van Zandt County Judge. He has made several comments on social media indicating that he has now retired as the Director of Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary.