Two Decades of Discovering Apes

Careerbuilder chimps: funny or fail?

A quick google search for “career builder” reveals within the top ten hits seven articles related to the use of chimpanzees in their recent superbowl commercial. These articles range from amusement to outrage.

Chimpanzees and other great apes have been used in the entertainment industry for a long time. I have seen orangutans, chimpanzees and gorillas in films, television, greeting cards and various types of advertisements. When I see apes in any of these ways I am appalled because I know of the horrors that are involved in their captivity.

Jen Feuerstein, Sanctuary Director of Save the Chimps Inc. vividly describes the beginning of that tortured road, “What viewers don’t see is a chimpanzee mother slumping into unconsciousness after being drugged, and human hands pulling her screaming baby from her breast.”

According to this article Careerbuilder first used chimps in a superbowl ad in 2005 and again in 2006 before a break until 2011 and hopefully what will be the last, 2012.

The questions that come to mind: Do we have the right to manipulate, without consent, sentient and highly intelligent beings for our own amusement? What happens to them when they get too big and too strong to handle?

There are lessons to be learned from this historical fight. Dr. Steve Ross, Director of Project ChimpCARE  says “’s commercial that shows the chimps outsmarting a human co-worker actually poses a risk to chimpanzees because people lose sight of the fact they’re an endangered species and are less likely to try to save them.” This is extremely worrying.

I remember a time when I thought seeing apes dressed up was cute and funny. I loved the chance to see any primates and there must be children today thinking the same thing. So, what changed for me? My interest in great apes led me to study anthropology, volunteer with an orangutan rescue charity and now coordinate Great Apes 4 Kids. In summary, I was educated.

The efforts of Great Apes 4 Kids will ensure that more people learn the reality of chimpanzees in entertainment and in the wild. Then they can make their own decisions about what is the right way to treat an animal with whom we share a common ancestor, and what is not.


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