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Alan Cumming, PETA Offering Reward for Missing ‘Buddy’ Chimpanzee Co-Star

Clare Fitzgerald
Photo Credit: Ron Galella Collection / Getty Images

Actor Alan Cumming has teamed up with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to determine the whereabouts of Tonka, his chimpanzee co-star in the 1997 film, Buddy.

Alan Cumming holding a picture of him and Tonka the Chimpanzee

Alan Cumming speaks at an event for PETA, calling for the transfer of Tonka and other chimpanzees from the Missouri Primate Foundation, 2017. (Photo Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP / Getty Images)

PETA was offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Tonka’s current whereabouts, a total Cumming has since doubled to $20,000. The chimpanzee was last known to be living at the now-defunct Missouri Primate Foundation (formerly known as Chimparty), which bred chimpanzees and rented them out for entertainment purposes.

The animal rights organization had sued the foundation over the living conditions of its chimpanzees and was given permission by a court to rescue Tonka and six others. However, when members went to carry out the order in July 2021, Tonka was gone, with owner Tonia Haddix claiming he’d “died.” She’d previously said they’d never get ahold of the chimpanzee.

She also “told various stories that didn’t add up and failed to prove that this was the case,” PETA added in a statement.

Alan Cumming holding Tonka the Chimpanzee in his arms

Alan Cumming and Tonka the chimpanzee at the Culver City premiere of Buddy, 1997. (Photo Credit: Ron Galella Collection / Getty Images)

In January 2022, a judge determined that Haddix’s testimony was not credible, prompting PETA to make a public appeal for information as to Tonka’s whereabouts.

“If you know where [Alan] Cumming’s former costar may have been shipped to, sold, or hidden away, PETA wants to hear from you,” said Brittany Peet, the organization’s deputy counsel for captive animal law enforcement. “If he’s still alive, Tonka deserves to live out the rest of his days surrounded by chimpanzee friends at a lush sanctuary, as ordered by the court, and someone out there might be able to help PETA get him there.”

In the same statement, Cumming said, “During the months we filmed together, baby Tonka and I became good friends, playing and grooming each other and just generally larking around. It’s horrible to think he might be in a cage in a dark basement somewhere or have met some other fate, so I’m appealing to whoever knows what has become of him to please come forward and claim the reward.”

Alan Cumming holding a photograph of him and Tonka the chimpanzee

Alan Cumming speaks at an event for PETA, calling for the transfer of Tonka and other chimpanzees from the Missouri Primate Foundation, 2017. (Photo Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP / Getty Images)

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Cumming and Tonka starred together in Buddy, a comedy based on the real-life story of 1920s socialite Gertrude Lintz, who raised monkeys as part of her family.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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