Animal associations

Capuchin monkey races spark animal abuse questions at Livingston County Fun Fest

Capuchin monkeys in costumes riding dogs might look cute, but not to some. The Humane Society of the United States is sounding the alarm over what they call animal abuse.

“It’s so outdated, it’s so cruel, and we’re better than that,” said Molly Tamulevich, director of the Humane Society. “We’re in the middle of a heat advisory and you put a full suit on a wild animal and force it into vigorous activity.”

It’s called the “Banana Derby” which takes place all week long, several shows a day, at a fair in the canton of Hamburg, in the county of Livingston.

“Are they in big enough cages? Do they receive a species-appropriate diet? said Tamulevitch. “What about enrichment and exercise? They are very intelligent and social animals.

A video clip was shot on Wednesday by protesting animal welfare groups. The voice you hear is Phil Hendricks who created Banana Derby 15 years ago.

FOX 2: “How many monkeys do you have?”

“Bert and Gilligan are on tour with us right now,” Hendricks said.

FOX 2 spoke with Hendricks briefly – before his phone died. He avoided questions about animal welfare – and his history of animal welfare violations. Instead, he promoted his shows.

“The only place in Michigan where you can see monkeys riding dogs here at Hamburg Family Fun Fest, they should bring the whole family,” he said. “It’s a good time.”

He says the monkeys are kept in an air-conditioned trailer and are part of his family. He added that caring for animals that have rights are two different things.

“What we don’t see is behind the scenes, it’s a life of confinement,” Tamulevich said.

She says mental stress – and physical stress often happens with animal shows, and the animals’ teeth are pulled out so they don’t bite.

Sources tell FOX 2 – one of the monkeys used on this Livingston County show had no teeth.

“If we don’t pass laws that ban these kinds of things, we’re going to see them pop up from time to time,” Tamulevich said.

FOX 2 spoke to Hamburg Township officials – they called Livingston County Animal Control for an inspection and they found no issues with the welfare of the monkeys.