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Chimp sanctuary reports park chimp dies

April 22, 2017 GMT

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Candy the Chimp, who for decades lived at Dixie Landin’ amusement park in Baton Rouge, has died, a North Louisiana chimpanzee sanctuary confirms.

Sam Haynes Jr. and his family have owned Candy since she was 6-months-old. She was more than 50-years-old when she died Thursday.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund and Chimp Haven had been battling in court to move Candy from the park to the sanctuary. Chimp Haven President and CEO Cathy Willis Spraetz tells The Advocate (http://bit.ly/2q251cH ) they found out about the chimp’s death through Haynes’ attorney.

Haynes’ attorney, John W. Perry Jr., declined comment Friday.

Multiple media outlets report the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against Haynes and Dixie Landin’ in November 2015, alleging that Candy was “inhumanely” confined and neglected.

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The chimpanzee previously performed at the now-closed Fun Fair Park in Baton Rouge and on the old “Buckskin Bill” show before she moved to Dixie Landin’ in the late 1990s.

In court filings, attorneys for Haynes had argued that the best thing for Candy was to allow her to live out the remainder of her life at Dixie Landin’ because the chimp identified with members of the Haynes family as her troop.

They said a previous attempt to introduce Candy into a troop of chimps at the Baton Rouge Zoo was an “absolute failure” as Candy kept escaping and was teaching the other chimps how to flee.

Willis Spraetz said she was surprised to hear of Candy’s death, especially after a primate veterinarian and a behavioral traumatologist saw Candy the day before she died.

“They saw Candy and played with Candy,” Willis Spraetz said. “She was very active and engaged. . (She) looked like a chimp half her age.”

She said it is unusual for a female chimp to be healthy one day and to die the next and she believes a necropsy should be done to investigate cause of death.

ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells said the organization is “heartbroken” over the death.

“This tragedy highlights the urgency of similar cases of animals in captivity,” Wells said. “The Animal Legal Defense Fund has had pending litigation for six years to release Tony, a 16-year-old tiger in potentially declining health held captive at a gas station less than an hour away from where Candy was held.”

Dixie Landin’ is an amusement park on Interstate 10 next to Blue Bayou Water Park. It’s website says it has 29 rides, including four roller coasters.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com