Your article on the Super Bowl ads featuring chimpanzees failed to present important facts. You can go wrong with a chimp, if this amazing being – who has a mind, personality, and emotions just like we do – is separated from his or her mother as an infant to live an unnatural life and suffer physical and psychological damage.
Many people aren’t aware that chimpanzee performers are routinely beaten into submission. And they don’t realize that once the apes reach adolescence and become stronger, they become “problems.” To handle them, trainers will have teeth pulled or use shock collars. Eventually, many chimpanzees are discarded – but zoos seldom take them because these animals never learned to interact with their kind. Chimpanzee performers often end up in shabby roadside zoos or being quietly euthanized.
The story also failed to mention that without our intervention, wild chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and bonobos may be extinct in 10-15 years. Given advances in animation and robotics, the film and TV industries have not even the feeblest argument for a trade that harms living beings and perpetuates misunderstanding of their species’ plight.
It’s time that all actors and others in entertainment join the courageous professionals who have refused to participate in productions using great apes. It’s time we all refuse to sanction this gross misuse of beings who are vulnerable to exploitation precisely because they are so like us.
Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE,
United Nations Messenger of Peace,
Founder, Jane Goodall Institute