United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Jimmy Wayne Hammonds, also known as “the Monkey Whisperer” (57, Parrish), today pleaded guilty to having violated the Endangered Species Act and Lacy Act in connection with a conspiracy to sell a protected primate to a celebrity client in California. Hammonds faces a maximum penalty of eight years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
According to court records, Hammonds owned and operated The Monkey Whisperer, LLC, a business engaged in the breeding and selling of wildlife. From September 2017 until February 2018, Hammonds conspired to sell a capuchin monkey to an individual in California, even though that buyer could not lawfully possess a capuchin monkey in California. Hammonds facilitated the transportation of the capuchin monkey from Florida to California through individuals who were not permitted to possess that species of monkey in either state. The client had paid more than $12,000 for the animal. Law enforcement later seized the monkey from the client’s California residence.
In addition, Hammonds illegally sold cotton-top tamarins, which are primates listed as an endangered species, to buyers in Alabama, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. To conceal his unlawful wildlife trafficking, Hammonds submitted false records to a law enforcement officer and attempted to persuade a witness to lie to a law enforcement officer by saying that they had purchased the cotton-top tamarins at a flea market.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Frank Murray.