Florida man known as ‘The Monkey Whisperer’ arrested for illegally selling primates

Man known as ‘The Monkey Whisperer’ arrested for illegally selling primates

TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida man known as “The Monkey Whisperer” is accused of illegally selling primates, violations of the Endangered Species Act, and witness tampering, prosecutors said.

The U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida said Jimmy Wayne Hammonds, 57, owner of The Monkey Whisperer, illegally sold a capuchin monkey to a buyer in California, as well as selling endangered cotton-top tamarins to buyers in Wisconsin, Alabama and South Carolina.

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In 2017, Hammonds transported a $12,650 capuchin monkey from Florida to California, to a person who was not licensed to own one, prosecutors said. He then concealed the sale, making it appear that the animal was sold to a person in Nevada. Law enforcement officials seized the animal in 2018.

Hammonds is also accused of selling endangered cotton-top tamarins to buyers in Wisconsin, Alabama and South Carolina from March 2016 to October 2017. Hammonds concealed the sales through false records and later tried to persuade a buyer to lie and tell law enforcement that she bought the cotton-top tamarin from a flea market.

In a recently unsealed indictment, prosecutors said Hammonds is charged with conspiracy, trafficking and submitting a false record in violation of the Lacey Act, a federal law restricting the illegal sale of wildlife, violations of the Endangered Species Act, and witness tampering.