For years, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) has been fighting to rescue Tommy and get him to a sanctuary. His story is the topic of a new documentary, "Unlocking the Cage," which follows the historic fight of Steve Wise, president of NhRP and an animal rights lawyer, and his attempts to persuade the New York court system to grant Tommy, along with three other captive chimpanzees, legal rights as intelligent, living beings.
But now, Tommy's disappeared - and no one knows what's going on.
According to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets records, Lavery "donated" Tommy to the DeYoung Family Zoo in Wallace, Michigan, in September 2015.
But when The Dodo reached out, the zoo said it wasn't familiar with any chimp named Tommy and claimed that the alleged disappearance is a publicity stunt for "Unlocking The Cage." The zoo added that all its chimpanzees are accounted for and happy.
Furthermore, the zoo claimed to be unfamiliar with any chimpanzee named Tommy - and wouldn't even confirm his existence.