We never like to hear stories about animals in grave peril. You cannot help but grow an attachment to them, whether it is working with animals one-on-one or watching them on the big screen, like Dolphin Tale telling the tear-jerking story of a boy bonding with an injured dolphin. GoldenEye's Alan Cumming can relate to bonding with an animal based on his experiences filming the 1997 film Buddy. His chimp co-star in the film, Tonka, has gone missing, and Cumming is putting up money to help find him.
It is a sad feeling when you watch a family film with lovable animals only to discover some sad facts about what happened to that particular animal now. According to Variety, Tonka the chimpanzee was last seen at the defunct chimpanzee breeding facility Missouri Primate Foundation in Festus, Missouri. This location was where chimpanzees were bred only to be rented out for movies or parties, or sold to private owners. Alan Cumming has decided to put up a $10,000 reward for anyone who has seen his beloved chimp.
The Scottish actor and the chimp Tonka go back two and a half decades, as they co-starred in the family film Buddy about a wealthy eccentric who collects wild animals into her home. Alan Cumming recalled in a statement the times they had together during filming when they became good friends playing together. Because it saddened him to think of what could have become of this precious primate, he asked in the statement to please come forward about Tonka’s whereabouts. If only this was a Marvel movie where Alan Cumming could relive his Nightcrawler character by teleporting himself all over the place to find this chimp.
While PETA tends to have its "monster" problems with the use of animals in television shows and movies, this animal rights organization has decided to help in the search for Tonka by putting up its own $10,000 reward. The organization has previously sued the Missouri Primate Foundation over Tonka being “warehoused in often filthy, virtually barren enclosures.” When PETA arrived to move Tonka and six other chimps to a better home, Tonka went missing in July 2021.
Alan Cumming is not the only person in the entertainment business who stands up for animals. Retired game show host Bob Barker is an animal rights activist who founded the DJ&T Foundation to pay for the spaying and neutering of pets. He has given millions to the PAWS Animal Sanctuary and the Sea Shepherd Organization. Before Betty White’s recent death, she worked with the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association for more than 50 years. Even Bradley Cooper used his own dog in A Star is Born instead of one supplied by Hollywood’s animal exhibitors. Wherever Alan Cumming’s former co-star chimp is, I hope everyone will band together to find him soon.
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Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.