ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - The rodeo is coming to St. Paul, and with it comes controversy surrounding a world famous monkey. An animal rights group claims one of the acts featuring “Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey,” is cruel and abusive.
Opening night is Friday at the Xcel Energy Center and the city said until there is proof of animal cruelty or abuse, the show will go on.
Mounted atop a saddle and riding a Scottish border collie, Whiplash electrifies the crowd with his scintillating runs and uncanny ability to hang on. He’s one of the most popular draws on the rodeo circuit across the nation and is in St. Paul before his performance at the “World’s Toughest Rodeo.”
But Tim Shields, with the Minnesota Federated Humane Societies, said this is more than just monkey business -- “We think this is an act, that potentially causes this monkey brain damage,” Shields said.
His animal rights group launched an investigation after receiving a complaint earlier in the week. After watching videos and consulting veterinarians, Shields said he’s afraid the monkey is being abused.
“Just repeated fast motion trauma, acceleration and deceleration, and that’s what’s of great concern to us because that’s what whiplash has to endure every single program it’s in,” Shields said.
Because the Xcel is owned by the city, Shield’s wants Mayor Chris Coleman and city attorney Samuel Clark to step in and stop the show. Clark sent a statement to Fox 9 that read, “If anyone has proof that the state’s animal cruelty laws are being broken, they should contact the police. “
Kenny Petet has owned Whiplash for four years, and drove from Texas where they live. He said the 27-year-old capuchin white face performs 50 to 60 times a year and receives excellent care before and after the shows.
“The only thing he’s ever had is the case of the sniffles or a cold. But he’s never been hurt in the arena,” Petet said.
Petet also said the U.S. Department of Agriculture heavily regulates the program -- “Plus I have to tell the USDA where I am at all times. And I am subject to surprise inspections at any time. And that’s a good thing.”
Ultimately Petet said Whiplash is more than a monkey, he’s family. And he plans on working with him to entertain crowds safely for years to come -- “The people who complained, I understand they’re trying to make things better for animals and so am I.”
The city said if anyone sees animal cruelty at these events, they should call police. Whiplash has performed in St. Paul more than a dozen times and his owner plans to bring him back again next year.