Florida ‘Monkey Whisperer’ charged in illegal wildlife trade

TAMPA, FLORIDA (AP) – A Florida man who went by the nickname ‘the Monkey Whisperer’ has been charged in federal court with illegally transporting and selling primates, including a species considered endangered, according to an indictment unsealed on Wednesday.

Jimmy Hammonds, 57, of Parrish, was charged with conspiracy, trafficking and submitting a false record in violation of the Lacey Act, a federal law involving the illegal trade in wildlife, according to a statement from the United States (US) Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.

Prosecutors said Hammonds owned and operated a wildlife breeding and sales business called The Monkey Whisperer, LLC, through which he tried to sell a capuchin monkey to a buyer in California, even though the buyer could not legally own the animal.

Hammonds was accused of organising the illegal transport of the monkey across the country, where authorities seized the animal from the buyer’s California home, according to the Justice Department.