Chimps' owner denies abuse allegations, says "these are my family"
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- On Wednesday, Mike Casey will ask the county board of commissioners for a permit to house four chimps in a residential neighborhood.
But Casey is up against animal rights advocates who say the chimps are a danger to the community.
Action News spoke with Mike Casey and met one of the chimps he stands to lose should the county's decision not go his way.
"I love Bentley and Bentley loves me right, love you good boy..." Casey said as he introduced the 4-year-old chimpanzee.
Bentley is one of four chimps Casey is fighting to keep at his southwest Las Vegas property. He's asking the county for a zoning permit through the end of next year. That's when he plans to move the chimps away farther from other homes.
But Mike Casey is up against animal rights advocates who want the county to deny the permit, citing the dangers of chimps living next door to neighbors. Earlier this fall, they even held protests near the home.
The southwest valley home is zoned for tigers, but Casey said animal control told him he needed to zone it for chimpanzees after two chimps escaped from a northwest Las Vegas neighborhood.
"All of a sudden I'm in violation and everything had been fine before. So, I felt that that could have been handled differently," Casey said.
Casey said his chimps are small, like Bentley, and love human interaction. But the animal rights group PETA put together a booklet claiming Mike Casey mistreats his chimps.
"He's reportedly physically abused chimpanzees with his fist and by dousing them with scalding water," Anne Carney with PETA said.
Casey said he would "absolutely not" abuse his chimps.
"I do not have children, these are my family," Casey said.
Casey showed Action News his photos of the chimps at birthday parties and charity events.
Mike Casey has had several violations with the USDA in the past. He tells us he's fixed the problems and is now compliant with regulations.
"Despite what animal rights wants to say right now," Casey said. "I love chimps and my life is chimps."