Alan Cumming reveals he was ‘groomed’ and almost sexually assaulted by CHIMP co-star Tonka – admitting he had to be SEPARATED from primate because they’d become too ‘connected’ while filming hit 1997 movie Buddy

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Written By Maya Cantina

Alan Cumming has revealed he could have been sexually assaulted by his beloved chimpanzee costar, Tonka – but was saved by animal handlers who were forced to separate the pair despite their ‘beautiful friendship.’

The 58-year-old starred alongside the primate in the 1997 film Buddy, a comedy drama which was based on a real-life gorilla called Massa.

Speaking at the second annual Save the Chimps fundraiser in New York City last week – one year after Tonka, now 32, was found alive and well following a frantic two-month search – Alan recounted to guests how he had ‘fallen in love’ with the animal and even let it groom him. 

‘Tonka and I really connected and so much so that he wanted to groom me,’ Alan recalled of their time on the film. ‘When chimps groom, they do this funny clicking noise and pull your hair and go for your armpits… the trainers were like “no!”

Alan Cumming has revealed he was almost sexually assaulted by his beloved chimpanzee costar, Tonka

Alan, pictured with Tonka at the premiere of Buddy in 1997, was banned from seeing him after filming wrapped

Alan, pictured with Tonka at the premiere of Buddy in 1997, was banned from seeing him after filming wrapped

Alan, 58, pictured on the set of Tonka with Buddy and another chimp

Alan, 58, pictured on the set of Tonka with Buddy and another chimp 

‘They realized that Tonka thought I was another chimp… On the last day of the film, they let Tonka groom me as a treat.

‘I get really emotional even talking about it… We had this beautiful friendship.’

Alan revealed that while he was doing the press tour for the film, he was told that he was unable to reunite with Tonka over fears he would sexually assault him as a result of becoming sexually aggressive on hitting puberty.

‘I came back to do the press tour and I would talk about it, how Tonka was really connected to me,’ he continued.

‘It was powerful. I came back to do the press tour and I was like “I’ll go and see Tonka”.

‘Then I did this morning talk show, and this producer came into the room and said “it’s a shame about Tonka isn’t it?” and I was like “what, did he die?”

‘They went: “No. Because he’s now five or six he’s more sexually aggressive and the trainers were worried if he saw you…”‘

Alan continued: ‘Basically, because he was sexually aggressive and he loved me, he was basically going to sexually assault me.’ 

The actor claims he had a 'beautiful friendship' with Tonka after they starred alongside each other in the comedy drama which also featured Renee Russo (pictured)

The actor claims he had a ‘beautiful friendship’ with Tonka after they starred alongside each other in the comedy drama which also featured Renee Russo (pictured)

Tonka was found alive and well last year after his owner claimed he had died in 2021

Tonka was found alive and well last year after his owner claimed he had died in 2021

Alan’s shocking tale comes one year after Tonka was found alive after his owner admitted to faking his death to avoid turning him over to an ape sanctuary.

In April 2022, the actor offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who could help locate the animal alongside animal welfare charity PETA, which also pledged $10,000.

Before he was found, Tonka was last seen in a cage in a controversial breeding facility in Missouri called Missouri Primate Foundation, which PETA claimed was ‘filthy.’

His owner Tonia Haddix had claimed the chimp had died in May 2021 from heart failure after a stroke.

But, in a bizarre twist, Tonka was found in Tonia’s Missouri home, with Rolling Stone stating the chimp had ‘access to a 60-inch TV and a tablet device’ and had even attended a St Patrick’s Day party.

When asked if she had lied about the animal’s death, the owner told the publication: ‘Oh absolutely, 100 percent’.

Tonia added that she had faked Tonka’s death to avoid sending him to the Center for Great Apes sanctuary in Wauchula, Florida – despite a court order from a judge.

At the time, PETA had also claimed that Tonia had booked for Tonka to be euthanized – although she denied this and says it was merely a standard check-up.

Alan, who was told Tonka had retired to Palm Springs following their time on Buddy, recalled how Tonia told him she had cremated his former costar – but PETA refused to believe her story.

Alan also revealed how Tonka was allowed to 'groom him' as a 'treat' on the last day of filming Buddy

Alan also revealed how Tonka was allowed to ‘groom him’ as a ‘treat’ on the last day of filming Buddy 

‘She said he had died and she had cremated him in the back yard,’ the actor said. ‘I was like “shut up”. At the last minute poor Tonka doesn’t get to live out his life and socialize with other chimps, [but] PETA didn’t believe that he’s dead…

‘They said that the information she’d given them about how she cremated him couldn’t have even roasted a turkey.’

Tonka is now one of more than 200 chimps who live at a privately-funded sanctuary in St. Lucie County, Florida.

He also starred alongside Brendan Fraser in George of the Jungle. 

His hit film Buddy was about wealthy eccentric Trudy, played by Rene Russo, who collects wild animals.

She then meets the sicky young gorilla Buddy and raises him as her own child, dressing him in up and training him.

But as Buddy grows older and larger, Trudy is unable to restrain him from turning increasingly violent, according to the film’s synopsis.

The story is loosely based on a real life socialite from the 1920s who raised animals in her mansion.

She wanted to protest ‘inhumane zoo conditions,’ according to the Tampa Bay Times

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