What Is an Organ-Grinder Act? Learn About the Issues


After U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports revealed that monkey exhibitors featured as organ-grinder acts at Ohio’s Sandusky County Fair have racked up numerous violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA)—including multiple incidents of children being bitten by monkeys—PETA fired off a letter this morning to Sandusky County Agricultural Society President Bob Lagrou urging him to commit to ending the use of monkeys and other wild animals in exhibits at the fair.

Monkeys are sensitive, highly intelligent individuals. It’s never acceptable to chain them up and parade them around in front of noisy crowds. PETA is urging fair organizers to relegate these cruel and ridiculous organ-grinder acts to the history books, where they belong.

Cruel Organ-Grinder Acts at Ohio’s Sandusky County Fair and Elsewhere

According to one USDA report, a former monkey exhibitor at the Sandusky County Fair, Norris Welch, was cited for 11 violations of the AWA, including keeping a white-faced capuchin monkey named Jo Jo alone in a tiny wire cage, where inspectors observed him “showing signs of psychological distress” by “consistently rocking.” After Welch lost his USDA license, another exhibitor, Desie Armstrong, unlawfully acquired Jo Jo.

white-faced capuchin monkey named Jo Jo used in organ grinder acts at the Sandusky County Fair in Ohio

According to another USDA report, Armstrong was also cited for 11 AWA violations, including removing the teeth of a capuchin monkey named British because she intended to use him as a photo prop. Monkeys bite when they’re frightened or stressed, which is inevitable when they’re forced into public interactions. Even without teeth, their jaws or sharp nails can cause serious injuries, including to fairgoers.

Monkeys are highly curious, social animals. According to primatologists and veterinarians, those used in cruel stunts like organ-grinder acts exhibit signs of fear and anxiety and show a blank facial expression of resignation, indicating a condition referred to as “learned helplessness.”

What You Can Do to Help Monkeys Exploited for Entertainment

Displaying monkeys and other wild animals at public venues, which is extremely stressful to them, is a form of speciesism—a human-supremacist worldview.

In the Banana Derby, a demeaning and cruel event that travels to fairs across the U.S., capuchin monkey “jockeys” are strapped to dogs who are forced to run around a racetrack at high speed. Please speak out against this abuse:


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