R.I.P. Candy the Chimp

Candy, a chimpanzee who spent most of her 50 plus years as an amusement park curiosity at Fun Fair Park and later at Dixie Landin’ in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has died. Candy was only 6 months old when she was purchased by the Haynes family of Louisiana. In her younger days, she appeared on a local children’s television show. But once she got too old to perform for the show, she sat, year after year, alone in barren metal cages. Occasionally, visitors would toss lit cigarettes into her enclosure for her to smoke.

For decades, Holly Reynolds, Cathy Breaux, and other activists had been trying to free Candy from this impoverished environment. The 1985 mandate under the Animal Welfare Act for “a physical environment adequate to promote the psychological well-being of primates” should have provided a means for Candy to enjoy the company of other chimpanzees, but the US Department of Agriculture’s interpretation of the law provided a loophole, condemning Candy to continued solitary confinement. However, in 2015, following adoption of a federal rule that stipulated that captive chimps are entitled to the same protection under the Endangered Species Act as wild chimps, the Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the longtime owner of the park, Samuel Haynes, Jr., on behalf of Candy’s advocates.

The plaintiffs had asked that Candy be moved to Chimp Haven, a wooded Louisiana sanctuary where she could enjoy wide open spaces and the company of other chimpanzees. Alas, before Candy could win her release in court, she was released in death.