Schneider also noted that the recent inclusion of chimpanzees in the Endangered Species Act, which now recognizes captive chimpanzees in the U.S. as "endangered" (upgrading their status from "threatened") and therefore more protected, went into effect on September. 15, 2015, just days after Tommy was shipped to Michigan.
But while the legal battle continues, right now the priority is finding out what happened to the sweet chimp who became caught in the middle of it.
"We are of course very concerned that Tommy died at the zoo or elsewhere," Schneider said. "We have made records requests for any death records to USDA ... If we had won legal personhood for Tommy in our case, he would arguably be considered a 'missing person' right now."
You can learn more about "Unlocking the Cage" here. Want to file a formal complaint to the USDA? Learn how you can here. You can also reach out to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources here.
To help chimps who were saved from situations just like Tommy's, you can make a donation to Save The Chimps, a Florida rescue, here.
Watch this video about chimps who survived on their own after being abandoned on an island: