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Alan Cumming Takes Up the Cause of a Former Costar

Alan Cumming

Cumming and PETA are calling for the release of 11 chimpanzees, including one who appeared in a film with the actor, from a Missouri facility.

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Alan Cumming is fighting for the rights of a former costar, and it's not Julianna Margulies or Hugh Jackman.

The bisexual actor, known for The Good Wife, The L Word, X-Men 2, Cabaret, and more, continued his activism for animal rights Friday by helping People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announce its lawsuit against the Missouri Primate Foundation, where Cumming and PETA say chimpanzees are kept in squalid conditions.

The chimps at the facility include Tonka, who appeared with Cumming in the 1997 film Buddy, and Connor, who appeared in movies such as Spymate and MVP: Most Valuable Primate. The PETA lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Missouri, seeks to have them and the nine other chimps at the facility released to accredited sanctuaries.

"At Missouri Primate, many animals are denied adequate socialization, environmental enrichment, and veterinary care; are confined to cramped cages that are often soiled with their own waste; and have been forced to live among persistent fly and cockroach infestations -- all in apparent violation of the Endangered Species Act," says a PETA press release.

Cumming says he bonded with Tonka while filming Buddy, about an eccentric socialite who adopts a chimpanzee. "Tonka and I developed a close camaraderie during the months we filmed," he says in the press release. "We played together and groomed each other and developed a special relationship I will treasure forever. I am confident the courts will allow Tonka to enjoy some semblance of the life nature intended for him and the other discarded chimps. And I'm in Hollywood today to urge producers to follow the lead of Disney's Jungle Book, which shows that CGI can not only lead to blockbusters but ... spare exotic animals from a life of misery." Earlier this month, Cumming wrote to the president of Missouri Primate, Connie Braun Casey, asking her to release the chimps, but to no avail, he says.

Missouri Primate filed its own suit against PETA last December, alleging that PETA had defamed the facility, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Its suit contends that PETA's claims are untrue and politically motivated. The Reporter sought comment Friday from Goldberg Segalla, the law firm representing Missouri Primate, but could not reach anyone there.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.