I'm glad to see that this is over and that Virginia-Gini Valbuena was able to provide the proper paperwork to show that Eli, the Chimpanzee did not come from Connie Casey. I don't understand, still, why this all had to go to court, when a simple mouth swab, or the paperwork could have been supplied at the very beginning.
Happy Birthday to Eil.
Polk County, Florida - Eli the chimpanzee turns one year old on Thursday.
His first year of life has been filled with legal proceedings, but those days are behind Eli and his animal baby-raiser, Gini Valbuena. "As for the trial outcome, it never concerned me. We had told the truth from the very beginning," says Valbuena.
Photo Gallery: Chimpanzee caught in custody battle
Last month a Sarasota judge denied chimp breeder Mike Casey's motion to do a DNA test on Eli. Casey believed one of his apes from his Chimp Habitat in Missouri gave birth to Eli. Casey alleged his ex-wife sold the chimp during their divorce.
But the judge concluded Casey had no proof and to go find it.
According to Casey's attorney, after some more "digging," they've dropped the case. Jason Wander says documentation proves Eli does not belong to Casey.
Animal trainers in California bought the $65,000 chimp from another Missouri breeder. Wander says he and his client set out to prove the chimp's family lineage and they accomplished it.
Meanwhile Valbuena says during the months of legal action, Casey tarnished her reputation. She says his case was based on suspicion and greed."They accused me of fraud, lying, and grand theft. They slandered me over the Internet for months." She adds, "People know he was not born there. We did not lie about it. All the paperwork has always been in order."
Valbuena's attorney Richard Buckle says, "Monkey see, Monkey do." Buckle says Valbuena will be taking Casey to court. They seek attorney fees from Casey and are considering a civil
Now that the DNA case is over, Eli can worry about being Eli and do what 1-year-old chimps do. It's much like a child: explore and play.
Valbuena describes Eli's day, "He has a bottle and he plays. He has a second bottle and he takes a nap. He has a third bottle and he plays some more."
Valbuena takes the place of a mother chimp. She says his mother did not care for him, so human assistance was needed to raise him. Eli stays close to Valbuena. He often clings to her and is always within her sight.
Gini will care for him and socialize Eli until he's 3 years old. It's the kind of work she's done for more than 40 years.
"I've done this for private trainers, breeders, and zoos over the course of many years," says Valbuena.
But as cute as Eli is, she warns, "He is not a pet. I am not a pet owner. I have 43 years experience and I don't promote great apes as great pets."
While Eli's a baby, Gini says he'll be part of her family.
Source and Photograph