Monday, January 30, 2012

Inquiring chimps want to know about CareerBuilder

Look at the zany CareerBuilder execs!! They are so silly, so funny! (None were beaten in the making of this cartoon.)

What is good for the goose is good for the gander; or, what's good for the primate is good for the, er..., primate. 

Sign our petition:

Cartoon presented by Dawn Forsythe and her friend "Herman the Chimp"

Hey kids, do you want to know who the real CareerBuilder clowns are? Check out Herman's next installment!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Add your name to the record of people protesting CareerBuilder ad

On February 5, CareerBuilder plans to air another one of its annual Super Bowl ads that exploit and ridicule chimpanzees. They are hurting chimpanzees, both captive and wild, with their irresponsible use of chimps in their marketing campaigns over the years. There is a petition, supported by hundreds of people around the world, calling on CareerBuilder to stop using live chimpanzees in their ads. I hope you will go to the petition at and sign it. And please share it, quickly, so we can present more than a thousand signatures to CareerBuilder before their ad runs.

The Super Bowl ads are a sad testament to corporate insentience about our sentient cousins. "No chimps were beaten during the filming of this ad," proclaims their company public relations person. No, of course not. That happens before ads are taped, and after the lights are turned off.

While CareerBuilder scorns the expert opinions of primatologists and the concerns of animal advocates everywhere, responsible companies are listening. Pfizer created an innovative ad campaign for Robitussin, using a computer generated image of an orangutan. Which company - Pfizer or CareerBuilder - is smart and forward looking, and which one is mired in the yuck-yucks of the 1950s and '60s when people thought it was funny to make apes do stupid tricks?

CareerBuilder marketers think this
image from their ad is funny
As Alicia Koberstein told CareerBuilder, in her posting on the petition site, “your current ads are sophomoric and reflect a dark ages mentality.” Alicia is right. Although I hate to give them more play, you really have to see this ad to believe the level of ridicule and contempt they have for chimpanzees. See the Good Morning America report, Activists Protesting CareerBuilder Ads, that shows some clips from the ad.

By using live chimpanzees for advertising, CareerBuilder supports an industry that hurts the chimps from the beginning of their lives when they are forcibly taken away from their mothers, through their youthful isolation and often abusive training, to their final 40 or 50 years when they are discarded into sanctuaries without financial support. In fact, the young chimpanzees used in CareerBuilder's first commercial (yes, they've been doing this for years) are now at the Center for Great Apes, a sanctuary in Florida - with no support from CareerBuilder.

Beyond the hurt done to these specific chimps, a public who laughs at zany and unnatural antics of costumed chimps is less likely to understand that chimpanzees are an endangered species that need protection. This has been explained to CareerBuilder, to no effect, and Lincoln Park Zoo's Kevin Ball explains yet again from the LPZ website.

(And BTW, have I mentioned that I am now Anjelica Huston's biggest fan, after Anjelica wrote this letter?)

In refusing to stop their use of chimpanzees, CareerBuilder is inflicting tremendous harm on the captive chimpanzees they've used in the past and the chimps they are using now. And they are deliberately and knowingly interfering with the conservation education that must take place if we are to save the remaining chimpanzees in the wild.

Please help in efforts to stop CareerBuilder – and other companies who may be considering the use of chimps in their ads – by signing and sharing our petition at

Monday, January 23, 2012

Transplanting a chimpanzee heart into a human

On this day in 1964, Dr. James Hardy transplanted a chimpanzee heart into a human. The patient, Boyd Rush, died within two hours.
Hardy had kept two chimps in a lab, waiting for the opportunity. In announcing the transplant attempt, the hospital spokesman omitted the fact that it had been a chimpanzee's heart. The hospital was forced to admit it several days later, to quell rumors that they had taken a heart from a living human. Instead, they had taken it from a living chimpanzee.
I should point out that most of the medical world was appalled at what Hardy had done. As told in Knife to the Heart, "moral and professional indignation were [Hardy's] only rewards." However, that did not stop others, as late as 1977: Tom Starzl (3 chimpanzee livers transplanted into humans), Raffaello Cortesini (organs and numbers unknown), and Christiaan Barnard (two chimpanzee hearts into humans). Preceding them all, in 1963, was Keith Reemtsma, at the Tulane University School of Medicine, who tried on five separate occasions to transplant chimpanzee kidneys into humans.
All transplantation attempts were unsuccessful.
I don’t know where Hardy got the adult chimpanzees that he used. In 1964, North American zoos transferred at least 18 chimps into identified research programs or into unidentified private hands. We know the names of some of the chimps that were dumped by the zoos: Ricky, Albert, Sammy, Bobby, Chico (see Zoo to Lab for more info on Sammy, Bobby, and Chico), George, Vicky Jean, Marty, Gina, Chuck II, Clyde, Fritz, Kiki, and Candy.
Today, let’s remember the early chimpanzee victims, as well as the thousand chimps still in research labs.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

New video - Lincoln Park Zoo experts explain why the U.S. government needs to change policies on chimpanzees

It is not easy to summarize all the emotional and biological aspects of the chimpanzee, and to then bring that discussion cogently to the debate over the Great Ape Protection Act and the U.S. reconsideration of endangered species status. This video does an excellent job, in only 8 minutes, of explaining it all without the technical jargon that often clouds the public understanding.
I would just mention two slight corrections to the content of the video.
First, the narrator suggests that Congress is looking at changing the endangered species status ‒ but that change is actually under consideration by the Obama Administration’s Fish & Wildlife Service.  FWS does not need congressional approval to correct its past error in not giving endangered species protection to chimps in captivity (even though they rightly give endangered species protection to chimpanzees in the wild).
Second, the narrator speaks of places that are suitable for chimpanzees (in the wild and in zoos, and NOT in the pet trade or entertainment), but forgot to mention the North American chimpanzee sanctuaries. They are rescuing hundreds of chimps, with very few accolades and even less financial support, and they should be front and center in the public's mind.
Those are minor items. Considering the big picture, this video is better than most I’ve seen in explaining why we need to respect chimpanzees for who they are, and not for what they give to humans.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mormons excommunicated me for racial views - but I have no problems with Romney's Mormonism

Mormonism should not be a disqualifier for presidential candidates. I would never vote for Mitt Romney in a million years, but only uninformed voters would vote against him because of his religion. I say this as an excommunicated Mormon who is now a solid atheist.
Tonight, I am writing about something a little lot different: religion and politics. I knew the attacks against either Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman, on the basis of religion, were just a matter of time. Although I am not privy to the whispering campaigns among Republicans, I am very sorry to see that MSNBC’s The Ed Show started it on the left tonight, as Ed and his guest questioned whether Romney had some sort of residual racism.
Despite my rocky attempts to adjust to the church’s teachings, and my even rockier departure from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints the Mormons I admire the tenets of Mormon life. I found that those tenets of service to others, humanitarian aid, good citizenship, and a strong family life were strong guideposts for the private and community lives of most of the people I knew while I was living among them. A Mormon who tries to live up to those tenets has a strong plus in his or her favor, in my opinion.
I’ve briefly written about my time as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (See After My Attempted Suicides…) I wrote about meeting the missionaries when I was 18 years old, and how one of those missionaries was by my side to help – to save my life? a couple years later, after I attempted my first drug overdose.
In the earlier posting, I was kind of flippant about why I converted, but my decision to join the church wasn’t frivolous. I prayed long and hard about it. Looking back now, I think that after a childhood with a violent and alcoholic father, and after listening to a lifetime of fighting between my parents – as they each constantly accused the other of being insane – I was primed for the lifestyle offered by the Mormons, where strong family support is a preeminent tenet of the religion. I fell in love with the idea of the family we didn’t have.
The problem I eventually found with the LDS Church in the 1970s was with one of their beliefs. Their racial belief.
After a couple of months as a new Mormon in Detroit in 1971, I got engaged to a young man who was on the two-year mission required of all young men who want to progress in the church. I moved to Salt Lake City to wait for him to finish his mission. I tried, I really tried, to fit in to the Mormon way of life. I was attending University of Utah, and I met a wonderful professor, Dr. J.D. Williams, who took me under his wing and helped me adjust to the Mormon customs.
Despite J.D.’s heroic efforts in my assimilation attempt, I was soon in a political tussle with the Mormons. It was very simple. I was appalled to discover that they did not allow blacks to hold the priesthood. That’s not priest as most people know the clergy. In the LDS Church, every “worthy” male is encouraged to enter a sort of civilian priesthood, so that he can conduct the religious rituals of his family, the community, and the church. Most of the Mormon white men walking the streets of Salt Lake City are priests, as is Mitt Romney. For 130 years, however, the Mormons didn’t consider “men of African descent” as worthy to hold the priesthood. See, there was a pre-earth war in heaven between God’s angels, with Satan on one side, and Jesus on the other. According to what church teachers told me, African-Americans were born with a dark skin to show the rest of us that they sat on the fence during that war and didn’t come to Jesus’ side. (They changed that belief in 1978, after God gave new priesthood criteria to the Church prophet. I was just five years ahead of the revelation.)
I argued with local church leaders. Surely they didn’t think that? (Um, did I really think they were going to listen to 21-year-old me, rather than take guidance from their prophet of God? Ah, it was wonderful to be young and omniscient!) They wouldn’t budge, so I asked for excommunication. That’s a major step, the worst punishment, and the leaders in my particular congregation (called a “stake”) told me there was no way they would do that. They wanted to counsel me instead. I didn’t want counseling that sanctioned discrimination, so I wrote a letter (filled with the passion of the young) to the editor of the University of Utah’s student newspaper.
January 26, 1973
Of all the communities in this country that I have visited, I’ve never heard as much rhetoric about freedom (alias “free agency”) as I have in this valley.
I was baptized a Mormon two years ago. During that time, I have attended church activities, institute classes and other functions of the church. Also, I have come to the realization that their racist and blasphemous teachings are outrageously false. Yet despite my petitions and supplications, the church refuses to excommunicate me. I have requested a Bishop’s court (the legal procedure for excommunication) but I was told I must rape 40 men and hold up a bank before my request would be considered. And this church passes itself off as being Christian!
I hope this letter is printed so I can declare to the leaders of the LDS Church that I know this is not the church of Christ. I would warn those people investigating the church to remember that as soon as you are dunked in the water (baptized?) you are proclaiming your racist and bigoted attitudes to the world and to God.
Dawn A. Brown
Well. That sure did the trick. I soon received my summons for a Bishop’s court. Two days after my trial, I received the good news. They excommunicated me for apostasy. (Apostasy is defined by the church's General Handbook of Instructions as teaching or following incorrect doctrines or “repeatedly act[ing] in clear, open and deliberate public opposition to the church or its leaders.”) Oh, and also for fornication, a charge they tossed in at the last minute. (I confess, I was guilty on that count, too.)
I’ve had Mormon friends since my excommunication, but I don’t tell them about this. So why should I write about it now? Because, even as an excommunicated Mormon, and even as an atheist, it deeply troubles me when I hear derogatory whispers or ill-informed aspersions about Romney or Huntsman, especially when those comments are coated with toxic "questions" of racism. I totally disagree with most of their political views. I deeply suspect their economic allegiances, and especially Romney’s view of capitalism. I don’t believe in their religious beliefs. But the Mormons changed their old racial discrimination, just as many other social institutions have. I still admire the Mormon tenets that attracted me to the church in the first place: service to others, humanitarian aid, good citizenship, and a strong family life.
I will leave it to Republican voters to determine how much Romney or Huntsman live up to the values espoused by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. But the fact that they are Mormons should not be a disqualifier in anyone’s mind.

Updates, 8/12/2012

Maybe I've been too naive about the lack of Mormon racism, if Dana Milbanks column in the Washington Post (headlined Romney Plays the Race Card in the print edition) is an accurate read of the politics. I still want to believe that the increasing undertow of racist implications is not a result of LDS upbringing or beliefs. I have no trouble understanding the cynical political strategy used by the campaign to elevate the culture wars to a very ugly level but, given the church's history, I am surprised to see Romney do anything that would invite a deeper look into the LDS official tenet of discrimination against an entire race. He is stepping too close to the line.

I've been having a good discussion with ex-Mormons on reddit, expecially regarding my statement about admiring the LDS tenet of humanitarian aid. One commenter directed me to a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article, How the Mormons Make Money. It is a fascinating look into the business dealings of the church. This statement particularly makes me retract my admiration of their humanitarian efforts: "A study co-written by Cragun and recently published in Free Inquiry estimates that the Mormon Church donates only about 0.7 percent of its annual income to charity; the United Methodist Church gives about 29 percent." So while Romney cites his 10% tithe as "charitable," it is extremely unlikely that the money actually went to charitable purposes.

If you have an account at reddit, check this digest of black history in the LDS church.

Harry's Law looks at the laws governing great apes

If you doubt that the tide has turned in favor of protection and repect for chimpanzees and other great apes, check out NBC's Harry's Law... Give Kathy Bates another award!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Hollywood animal trainer speaking out on cruelty?

Time Magazine has an interesting article, Why Wild Animals and Hollywood Don’t Mix. Even more interesting are comments by whistleman, who says he was an animal trainer for the movies.
Here are his comments at the Time Magazine article:
This is an interesting article but not entirely true. In fact, not many people know the truth. The reason being is the animal industry within Hollywood and most busy production areas is very quiet about what they do and how they achieve certain results. Most animal training companies know one another and work alongside each other on movie sets. There is a kind of honor amongst them that they do not talk and tell anyone what goes on behind closed doors. 
How do I know this you ask? Because I was one of them. It is time the lid was lifted off of this inhumane world, and believe me that day is coming very soon.
The animal film industry all took notice when the last Planet of the Apes film was released, to see how the new technology was going to be received by the general public, and now they all know their time is running out.
I have unfortunately witnessed acts of cruelty on many occasions, and that is why I am no longer in the business. I will say that not all companies out there are like this. There are one or two that really do care about their animals and the care they give them.  As for the AHA [American Humane Association], they are a bit of a joke really. They are paid by the animal companies in most cases and they are only there when the cameras are rolling. They don't witness the beatings or the abuse which happens before or after the camera stops filming. The abuse mostly happens around the back of the set or well away from the rest of the film crew. Most of the animal’s food rations are cut way back before the film day so they are very hungry the day of the filming; that way they should do as they are told. Most of the K9 stars live most of their film life in a transportation crate, the sort you buy in most pet stores. That way, they don't know any bad habits and don't get too over excited. 
The transportation of these animals is an entirely different subject, but I could go on. I think it is important that the public should know that some of the most famous animals of the last few years have all suffered. 
As for the theme parks like Sea World, well they have already been caught out on several occasions just ask ex dolphin trainer Richard O'Barry. He has seen both sides, just like I have. 
I know a lot of animal trainers will read this article just to see if anything about them is in it. Well, let me tell you, there is a book currently undergoing editing that tells ALL. It will even put names to some people and companies involved in these atrocities. The whistle has been blown and these lazy, cruel, greedy people will be stopped.
I asked whistleman to come to this blog, so we could hear directly from him. I have no way of knowing if he is who he says he is, but if he is truly an ex-employee of an animal trainers, his whistleblowing will accomplish much good in this world. 
Whistleman, if you stop by, please send me an email at I hope you can write a guest post for this blog.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

We do it for individual chimpanzees who need help

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Eve. I only remember one celebration when I was a child, in 1960. My aunt and uncle came over and we had a selection of deli meats to make sandwiches. The highlight of the evening was doing The Twist with my dad. When I got older, I tried going out a couple of times, but I had a bad run of awful blind dates or nights when I drank too much to make it to midnight. So I gave up the celebrations over the past couple of decades.

Instead, I like to spend quiet time by myself to reflect on the year past. This year I doubled up on the reflections. In addition to thinking about what was going on in my life (all good), I thought about what was happening to the chimpanzees who need our help. A lot of people deserve a lot of thanks for taking care of the chimpanzees who are society’s discards. I’m not talking about “chimpanzees” as a species, although that is important – I’m talking about individuals, who each have their special needs and their unique challenges.

Clyde, a Midwestern pet rescued in
 November, is on his long road
to recovery.
Rescued by the Center for Great Apes in November, Clyde is on the road to recovery. Captured in Africa as an infant over 40 years ago, Clyde has lived his entire life in a tiny indoor garage cage in the Midwest. Without sunshine or space to exercise, Clyde arrived at CFGA atrophied and extremely thin and pale. In just one month, with new space at the sanctuary where he can walk, and climb, and eat nutritious meals, Clyde is beginning to move with more ease and is putting on some weight.

Save the Chimps completed their Great Chimp Migration in December, bringing the last of 266 chimpanzees rescued from the former Coulston Research Facility to sanctuary islands built especially for them. The “migration” from New Mexico to Florida, in a rig especially outfitted to transport the chimpanzees as trauma-free as possible, began in 2006. Taz, Sarah, Bart, Bradley, Marisha, Alari, Guilder, Howard, Torian and Roady arrived safely at their new home.

At Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, the “Cle Elum Seven” Foxie, Negra, Burrito, Annie, Jody, Missy and Jamie got a beautiful new outdoor habitat where they can explore and play and, well, be chimps. Four years ago, they were living in a dark and dirty basement at the Buckshire Corporation. 

In October, Chimp Haven took in five HIV-infected chimpanzees who spent 30 years in biomedical research. Now, instead of languishing in a bankrupt facility in Texas, JoJo, Doc, Pierre, Murphy and Flick have joined 120 other chimps – most of them elderly and chronically ill – living in a spacious forest habitat in Louisiana.  

We can make 2012 a year of profound change for the chimpanzees who still need our help. Yes, we can help the species as a whole, but we also have the challenge to rescue individual chimpanzees, with their distinct needs and hurts and cares. Hundreds of the chimps are caught up in corporate research projects, while entertainment chimps wear chained collars just like dangerous dogs as they are moved to their latest gig. Not to mention the "beloved" pets in basements and garages…

If we act, we can make 2012 the Year of the Chimpanzee. We need to:
  • get Congress to pass the Great Ape Protection Act, S. 810 and H.R. 1513
  • convince the Fish and Wildlife Service to end double standard of endangered species designation and list all chimps (captive and wild) as endangered
  • stop NIH’s flow of federal money to biomedical research projects on chimpanzees
  • move research chimpanzees into accredited sanctuaries, and find a funding source
  • shine the light on entertainers and marketers who exploit chimps for product promotions and profit
  • pass state laws, if necessary, to stop the sale of chimpanzees as pets.
We aren’t doing these things to save the planet. We are saving individuals like Clyde and Howard and Annie and Doc. We are doing it so that next New Year’s Eve, we can reflect on the year past and name the individuals who were given the chance to be chimps again. Or maybe, be a chimp for the first time in their life.
Help us. Help them.