MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida man widely known as “the Monkey Whisperer” was sentenced for illegally transporting and selling primates, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Jimmy Wayne Hammonds, 58, of Parrish, who is also known as “the Monkey Whisperer,” was sentenced to five years’ probation for conspiring to violate the Lacey Act and violating the Endangered Species Act.
Authorities said Hammonds owned and operated The Monkey Whisperer, LLC, a business that bred and sold wildlife.
For several months in 2017 and 2018, authorities said Hammonds conspired to sell a capuchin monkey to a celebrity in California who was willing to pay $12,000 for the primate. The buyer was not legally permitted to own the monkey in California.
The DOJ said Hammonds then facilitated the transportation of the monkey through individuals who were not permitted to possess the monkey in either state.
The capuchin monkey was later seized from the buyer’s California home by law enforcement officers.
Authorities said Hammonds also illegally sold endangered primates to buyers in Alabama, South Carolina, and Wisconsin and submitted false records to law enforcement in an attempt to hide his illegal trafficking, a news release stated.
Hammonds also tried to persuade a witness to lie to law enforcement by saying they purchased the endangered primates at a flea market.
Hammonds had been previously convicted for similar acts in 2012.
“In a number of states, it is illegal to buy, sell and own exotic pets,” said Edward Grace, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Assistant Director of the Office of Law Enforcement. “The illegal wildlife trade jeopardizes the future for many species, and we thank the U.S. Department of Justice, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for their work on this case.”
In addition to his probation, Hammonds was also ordered to pay a $90,000 fine to the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service Lacey Act Reward Fund.