Tuesday, February 28, 2012

NIH sets up working group to consider fate of chimps in research

On February 1, the National Institutes of Health took its next step in deciding what to do with chimpanzees owned or supported by federal research funds. Under the timeline they set out, they are at least 18 months away from establishing the new federal policy, but they are not approving any new research in the meantime. And the Alamogordo chimpanzees remain in limbo.

NIH set up a working group to advise NIH on how to implement the recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in their report Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research: Assessing the Necessity. Specifically, the Working Group on the Use of Chimpanzees in NIH-supported Research will
·         develop a plan to implement IOM’s guiding principles and criteria;
·         analyze active NIH-supported chimpanzee research, advise on which studies do and don't meet the criteria, and develop a process for closing studies that don't comply; and
·         advise NIH on the size and placement of active and inactive chimpanzees.

The NIH anticipates that the working group will present its final report in early 2013. After the Council considers the report and recommendations, the NIH will subsequently open a 60-day public comment period.

Who are the men and women on the working group? Sure, NIH appointed people who have used chimps in bioinvasive research, but it appears that not everyone on the working group is invested in continuing current policies. They appointed people representing a range of interests that will have to be considered in moving forward.

Working group membership

Dr. Daniel Geschwind, MD, PhD (co-chair), University of California - Los Angeles
A biomedical researcher who conducts research on chimps to identify gene networks that correlate to specific brain regions. http://geschwindlab.neurology.ucla.edu/index.php/in-the-news/16-news/45-livesciencefoxp2

Dr. K.C. Kent Lloyd, DVM, PhD (co-chair), University of California – Davis
A research physiologist with expertise in targeted mutagenesis of the laboratory mouse. http://ccm.ucdavis.edu/profiles/lloyd.html

Ms. R. Alta Charo, JD, University of Wisconsin Law School
The Warren P. Knowles Professor of Law and Bioethics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she is on the faculty of the Law School and the Department of Medical History and Bioethics at the medical school. http://law.wisc.edu/profiles/racharo@wisc.edu

Dr. Beatrice Hahn, MD, University of Pennsylvania - Perelman School of Medicine
Used non-invasive research with wild chimpanzees to prove the origin of AIDS. http://bhamweekly.com/birmingham/article-619-beatrice-hahn-finding-the-origin-of-aids.html

Dr. Stanley Lemon, MD, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Co-author of hepatitis research performed in chimpanzees at Texas Biomed's Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC) and funded by the National Institutes of Health. http://www.hivandhepatitis.com/hep_c/news/2011/0708_2011_c.html

Dr. Daniel J. Povinelli, PhD, University of Louisiana, New Iberia Research Center
Comparative psychologist involved in the development of the first National Chimpanzee Observatory, a network of naturalistic observatories to serve as an educational facility and behavioral research center. http://ulceet.com/site98.php

Dr. Charles Rice, PhD, Rockefeller University
Uses bioinvasive techniques on chimps for hepatitis C research. http://www.blogger.com/goog_1233280764

Dr. Stephen Ross, PhD, Lincoln Park Zoo
Assistant Director, Lester Fisher Center for the Study & Conservation of Apes, he is a behavior specialist dedicated to assessing and managing effects of captive environments on ape welfare. http://www.lpzoo.org/conservation-science/resources/staff-bios/stephen-ross-phd
Dr. Patricia Turner, MSc, DVM, DVSc, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph
The president of the Association of Primate Veterinarians, she was the inaugural recipient of the Procter & Gamble/Humane Society of the United States – North American Animal Welfare Award in 2007. http://www.worldvet.org/node/5219

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Send a message, not money!

April 2012 will mark the beginning of the 5th year of congressional consideration of the Great Ape Protection Act ‒ without ever having a vote on any of the bills. This year, I will not be a chump. I will not donate to the campaign of any member of the House or Senate until they actually vote on the bills.
Let’s face it, many legislators find it easy to put their name on a bill without ever having to actually vote for it. S. 810 and H.R. 1513 are both sitting in their respective committees, and animal welfare advocates ‒ like you and me ‒ are supporting the legislators who are sitting on the legislation. They are not holding hearings and they are not casting their vote.
Recently, several progressive celebrities have called for action on the bills. Alec Baldwin, Woody Harrelson, Ellen DeGeneres, and James Franco have all made eloquent and forceful pleas for action. You and I need to support their eloquence with OUR action.
When you get a request for a donation, don’t send money. Send a message! No campaign contributions until there are votes on S. 810 and H.R. 1513.

And, by the way, a message to the presidential campaigns can’t hurt, either.
UPDATE 7/29/2012: Tonight I contributed to the reelection campaign of my Senator, Ben Cardin. As chair of the Senate subcommittee considering S. 810, he held a hearing on the bill, and moved it forward to the full committee. During the committee markup, he introduced an amendment that would incorporate the NIH recommendations, thus making the bill more amenable to the Obama Administration. The bill was passed out of committee for the first time and is now on the Senate floor for consideration. I am proud of Senator Cardin's leadership on this important legislation.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Chimp trainers give sadism a bad name

Being the daughter of a chimp trainer in the 1950s and ‘60s gave me some special experiences. The best of course, was playing with baby chimpanzees, amd watching dad train them to ride bicycles and ponies. But I got other benefits too.
Who else had a big elephant tooth to show off? Dad brought one home from the zoo, and we put it in a place of honor in our home. (Looking back, I’m not sure why dad got the elephant’s tooth. It looked perfectly fine, no cavities, not even tartar.) Do you want beautiful, almost iridescent, peacock feathers? Just touching them, softly, brought an elegant glamour to a young girl’s dreams. How about snakeskins? Turtle shells? Dad made friends with a lot of people at the Detroit Zoo, and I reaped the rewards.
Best of all, we had THE JAR. Dad kept a huge glass container filled with an assortment of animal fetuses, animal brains, and other sundry animal body parts. The stuff swam in a pool of formaldehyde to keep the tissue from rotting. I took the jar to school for “show and tell” one day (did I have permission? I don’t remember!), and accidently dropped it on the hard floor. I don’t know what was worse… the overpowering stench of chemical, the disgusting sight of tiny animal fetuses sliding along the floor, or the heart-stopping fear of going home and telling dad that I had destroyed his valued collection of animal parts.
Walking home from school that day, fear zoomed to the top of the list. It was a feeling I experienced often. I was going to be on the receiving end of dad’s anger, and I never knew if that meant just being screamed at or actually getting hit. To tell the truth, I do not remember what dad’s reaction was that day. I’ve blocked it out. But, to this day, I remember the fear that lurked in the background of my every day as a kid, waiting for the explosion of violence that would inevitably follow mistakes like my jar demolition.
The chimpanzees who dad trained had that same fear, day in and day out, getting slapped and punched even beaten for innocent mistakes. And although respectable zoos haven’t “trained” their chimps like that for decades, men like Steve Martin do. Martin, operating as Working Wildlife, owns the chimpanzees that CareerBuilder uses in their ads. The ads are no laughing matter.
Primates human or chimp who live with fear every day carry emotional scars for the rest of their lives. My brother’s scars were etched so deep that he had to blow his own head off to stop the pain. Butch, a chimpanzee rescued from Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey circus, looks over his shoulder often, trying to banish his ghosts of abuse. Dr. Hope Ferdowsian found that chimpanzees in research are traumatized and show symptoms of PTSD, much like humans and I think she would find the same if she studied entertainment chimpanzees.
Jo Mendi was forced to carry the cane
he was beat with.
We often hear that people witnessed no abuse when chimpanzees perform. (This footage, showing Tarzan's trainer, is an exception.) Not many people saw the abuse that dad meted out to us kids, either. But, like the fear I lived with every day, the fear that chimp trainers instill in their chimpanzees is all too real. Ever since the 1930s, when a trainer made Detroit Zoo chimpanzee Jo Mendi carry the cane he was beat with, chimp trainers enjoy the challenge of subjugating a young animal. They do it with a pervasive pattern of cruel, demeaning, and aggressive behavior. Chimp trainers get their jollies by intimidating, coercing, hurting, and humiliating the chimp. It is the classic definition of sadism.
These last couple of days I hoped that CareerBuilder would respond to the thousands of people who signed my petition asking the company to not use chimpanzees in their ads anymore. I asked for their answer by Valentine’s Day. But CareerBuilder didn’t even have the courtesy to respond.
Well, guess what? We’re not giving up. We will continue to speak up against the corporatism that imbues CareerBuilder management and marketing with the arrogance to scorn animal lovers and support disgusting businesses like Steve Martin’s
We will keep our petition on change.org alive until CareerBuilder pledges to stop using chimps in their ads. Then, maybe, Steve Martin’s business will dry up, and we can rescue his chimps… and begin to ease the fear caused by the disgusting and deliberate sadism that goes by the name “chimp trainer.”

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Petition delivered. Will CareerBuilder show chimps some Valentine love?

Today I emailed a copy of the signatures from our petition on change.org, to various people at CareerBuilder. The document, with over 2,700 signatures, was 99 pages long. Those 99 pages contain the fervent hopes and the growing outrage over the use of live chimpanzees in advertising.

I asked CareerBuilder to respond by February 14. Company spokespeople say they respect chimpanzees. I hope they will prove it by showing their chimp love on Valentine's Day, and declaring that they will stop using live chimpanzees in their ads.

This is the cover letter, to Matthew W. Ferguson, CEO, CareerBuilder, asking for his response by February 14.

Chimp Trainer’s Daughter
Dawn Forsythe

February 8, 2012

Matthew W. Ferguson, CEO

Dear Mr. Ferguson,
Over 2,700 people came together in the course of a couple of days, to sign a petition that I organized as a private citizen, to ask CareerBuilder to stop using chimpanzees in Super Bowl ads. I have attached their signatures, so you can see the names of real people with real concerns about the action of your company. The petition says it best:

CareerBuilder: Stop using chimpanzees in Super Bowl Ads

CareerBuilder is hurting chimpanzees, both captive and wild, with their irresponsible exploitation of chimps in their marketing campaigns over the years.

Responsible companies are creating innovative marketing campaigns with new computer generated imagery technology instead of real animals, but CareerBuilder continues to exploit live chimpanzees in their outdated ads that harken back to the mindless exploitation of the last century.

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.

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.

In refusing to stop their use of chimpanzees, even though they know of the objections by animal welfare advocates, CareerBuilder commits tremendous harm to the "here and now" of the captive chimpanzees they've used in the past and the chimps they are using now, and the future (if it exists) of chimpanzees in the wild.

I had closed the petition, but reopened it at the request of people who wanted to add their names. You may see their comments at http://www.change.org/petitions/careerbuilder-stop-using-chimpanzees-in-super-bowl-ads.

My hope is to post a final update, by Valentine’s Day, saying that CareerBuilder has agreed to lead a new revolution in advertising, where there are no apes in ads, and where companies like CareerBuilder will innovate with digital technology — whether it is performance capture, computer generated imagery, or animatronics.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of the hopes of thousands who cared enough about chimpanzees to put their name on the line. I look forward to seeing your public statement by February 14.

Dawn Forsythe
Chimp Trainer’s Daughter

Monday, February 6, 2012

Was CareerBuilder's chimp ad worth it?

So, how did CareerBuilder’s ad do? Was it worth the $3.5 million for 30 seconds? More to the point (since I couldn’t care less how CareerBuilder wastes its money), was it worth their continuing patronage of an abusive chimp training industry? Was it worth hurting chimpanzees and interfering with conservation education?
If CareerBuilder has any sense (which is questionable), they would be crying in their old, stale beer, left over from last night's advertising debacle. Their chimpanzee ad is getting panned by the critics who count.
The New York Times advertising columnist, Stuart Elliott, gave it a thumbs down. "CareerBuilder brought back its chimpanzees dressed as humans, meant to personify nitwit co-workers. But the only nitwits were the creators of the commercial, who ignored a growing belief on Madison Avenue that it is wrong to use live apes in ads," Elliot wrote in Super Bowl commercials, from charming to smarmy.
My FOXdc reports that “once again the job search website brought in chimpanzee coworkers for its ad, despite pleas to stop from animal rights activists,” as they named the ad as one of the five worst in Super Bowl Commercials: Best and Worst.
AdRant’s Brand Bowl 2012 named the CareerBuilder ad one of the five least effective. In an analysis of tweets, they found that the ad got a dreadful combination of low volume of chatter and low positive commentary.
I was trying to follow a couple of live blogs during the game, and I only saw one semi-positive comment, by a guy who said he laughed – and then apologized for it! (When your supporters apologize, you know you’re in trouble.)
So, I ask again, was it worth it to CareerBuilder? If I were sitting on the board of the Tribune Company, or Gannett (USA Today), or the one of the other owners of CareerBuilder, I’d have to seriously question the company’s leadership. Even more, if I were a client of CareerBuilder, I’d start looking – NOW – at monster.com. I sure wouldn’t want a promotional partnership with a company that is very successful at one thing: making itself a subject of ridicule on Madison Avenue and Main Street.
I obviously haven't seen all of the commentary on the ad. If you've got a review to share, leave a comment below or send me an email at chimptrainersdaughter@gmail.com. I'll post others as I find them.

Update: Even Global Animal, who gave a "paws up" to the widely opposed Skecher's ad, gave a decidedly "paws down" to CareerBuilder: "The one animal commercial that stuck a thorn in viewers sides (particularly PETA’s), was CareerBuilder’s return of the immature chimpanzees dressed as humans. Using live apes in ads has been frowned upon by Madison Avenue lately, yet CareerBuilder opted not to re-brand. PETA’s comment on the “immature chimpanzee” campaign put it best: “Yes, the chimpanzees are immature—that’s because they’re babies who should be with their mothers, not being forced to perform tricks for an ass-backwards company’s cruel and unimaginative Super Bowl ad.”

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Use of chimps in Super Bowl ads is no laughing matter

Dad and the zoo chimps
Watching Super Bowl ads is a lot of fun. Sometimes it is even more fun than watching the game.
Unfortunately, CareerBuilder’s use of live chimpanzees for a cheap laugh is no laughing matter. In fact, the company is hurting chimpanzees, both captive and wild, with its irresponsible exploitation of chimps in marketing campaigns over the years.
We love to see cute animals doing funny things. Advertisers have known for a long time that anthropomorphic chimpanzees — chimps in human clothes and in human situations — sell. During the Great Depression, a trained zoo chimp in a business suit and eyeglasses helped persuade Detroiters to donate to the Community Fund. As the daughter of a Detroit Zoo chimp trainer in the 1950s and ’60s, I watched my dad train chimps to ride ponies and play banjos for shows enjoyed by millions.
Advertisers and Hollywood paid attention to the oohs and aahs of the crowds, and soon baby boomers became accustomed to chimps on TV, selling products and entertaining the child in all of us.
Back then, the public was innocent about the harm being done to the animals. We didn’t know that the open mouth chimpanzee “grin” we laughed with/at is most often a grimace of fear.
It’s different today. Thanks to decades of research, and by using our own increased awareness, we can no longer claim innocence.
Unfortunately, CareerBuilder is still trying to claim last century’s naivete. The animals “were not harmed during the production of the ad,” their marketing department claims. Well, of course not. That happens before the cameras start to roll.
I saw how trainers turn a traumatized baby chimpanzee into a malleable entertainer. Baby chimpanzees destined for the stage are taken from the arms of their mothers, and the trainers put them into social isolation. The youngsters are forced to rely on their human handlers rather than develop normally with their own kind. And training a smart chimp isn’t like training a dog. My father beat the zoo chimps, and that “training method” is still used by commercial trainers today, although not for more than 35 years (thank goodness) by accredited zoos.
Mowgli was a performer for the first
CareerBuilder chimp ad in 2005. He was 5 years old
when his trainer left the business and

gave his chimps to the Center for Great Apes.
CareerBuilder contributes nothing towards his care.
After the chimpanzees spend two, three, maybe five years in show biz, they become too strong to handle and are relegated to the trash heap known as retirement. No one pays for their care for the 40 or 50 years that remain in their lives. They are put into research programs or, if they are very lucky, they may be rescued by increasingly overstressed and underfunded sanctuaries. In a magnificent turn-around since my dad’s day, zoos are also rescuing entertainment chimps.
But the concern about the CareerBuilder ads goes beyond the welfare of these individual chimps. Using chimps in advertising actually hurts conservation education efforts. In a study published last summer, chimpanzee expert Steve Ross followed up on 2008 survey data showing that “the public is less likely to think that chimpanzees are endangered compared to other great apes, and that this is likely the result of media mis-portrayals in movies, television and advertisements.”
Dr. Ross’ new research found that people “seeing images in which chimpanzees are shown in typically human settings (such as an office space as shown in the CareerBuilder ads) were more likely to perceive wild populations as being stable and healthy compared to those seeing chimpanzees in other contexts.”
Wild populations are not stable, nor are they healthy. In fact, the United States has classified wild chimpanzees as an endangered species since 1996.
For many years, chimpanzee advocates have begged CareerBuilder to stop using live chimpanzees in its ads. We are trying again this year, and the company’s refusal is stunning.
CareerBuilder is not relying on chimp ads for their success as a company. Job seekers don’t think, “I need to use that chimp company to find a job!” CareerBuilder’s continuing intransigence isn’t even due to ignorance, because experts have been explaining this to the company over the years. No, it is exploiting chimpanzees for its own enjoyment, but it’s not funny. It is sad.


Friday, February 3, 2012

The brutality that CareerBuilder doesn't want you to know about

I don’t know if CareerBuilder is deliberately misrepresenting the situation with the chimpanzees they used in their Super Bowl ad, or if their social media manager just doesn’t understand. 
On CareerBuilder's Facebook page today, somebody posted the brilliant statement from Wayne Pacelle, Humane Society president,that tore into CareerBuilder’s use of chimpanzees in advertising. The CB social media manager replied that “the Humane Society was present on set.”
Uh, no they weren’t. And you, Mr. or Ms. Social Media Manager, should know that. The organization that was “on set” was the American Humane Association, the much smaller group that gives companies the seal of approval that says “no animals were harmed during the filming…” yadda, yadda, yadda. Which is beside the point anyway when you talk about the years of training – and brutality – a chimpanzee has to endure before the filming starts.

I know the kind of training they receive. I know the terror chimps feel. My dad was a violent man, punching mom and whipping us kids and, as a chimp trainer, he was no less brutal. Ah, you say, but that was in the 1950s and 1960s, and the chimp training profession is so much more humane these days.
In the 1930s, the Detroit Zoo made
Jo Mendi carry the cane he was beat with.
Just as CareerBuilder has not progressed beyond the slapstick ridicule of chimpanzees that was so popular during the last century, chimpanzee training reeks today like it stunk 60 years ago.
But don’t take my word for it. Read testimony delivered by Sarah Baeckler in October 2003, after she spent more than a year as a volunteer at Amazing Animal Actors, a chimpanzee training compound that provides performers for film and television. I warn you, it isn’t easy reading.
“The events I witnessed horrified me,” Sarah testified. “I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I saw sickening acts of emotional, psychological, and physical abuse every single day on the job.”
“The trainers physically abuse the chimpanzees for various reasons, but often for no reason at all. If the chimpanzees try to run away from a trainer, they are beaten. If they bite someone, they are beaten. If they don’t pay attention, they are beaten. Sometimes they are beaten without any provocation or for things that are completely out of their control.”
Sarah goes on to relate the brutality that she saw. It is so difficult to stomach the violence. I don’t know why, but my heart especially broke when she talked about Sable.  
“Sable is another of the younger chimpanzees. She is very inquisitive and is always watching what you are doing, taking it all in. I was warned that she would not hesitate to bite me if she thought she could get away with it, and that I should feel free to ‘clock’ her if she did. I played with Sable fairly easily inside the cage and didn’t have any major problems with her, but when I took her out to change her diaper, I had very little control over her.”
“One day in August 2002, a female trainer who was watching me said, ‘don’t be afraid to just hit her.’ I hesitated, so the trainer demonstrated for me: she made a fist and punched Sable in the head with her right hand, just above her left eye. Sable screamed and jumped tighter into my arms, no longer squirming. The trainer had to wave her hand like this to shake off the pain – she had hit Sable that hard.”
And it gets worse.
“Because Sable has such a curious nature, she continued to test her limits, and she continued to suffer for it. Over several months between September 2002 and June 2003, I witnessed trainers punching her in the back, kicking her in the head, and throwing objects at her including a rock, a mallet, and a sawed-off broom handle.”
I’m sure that when Sable got to her job, on the set, she was a good little performer. When the American Humane Association watched, they could attest that her trainers didn’t beat her on the set. Just as they did for the chimpanzees in the CareerBuilder ad.
But AHA won't speak of the brutality the chimpanzees go through when they are not on the set. And CareerBuilder doesn't want you to know that.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Who are the real CareerBuilder clowns?

On Super Bowl Sunday, CareerBuilder will air another one of its ads that use live chimpanzees, despite the continuing (and growing) outrage from chimpanzee advocates and animal lovers everywhere.
CareerBuilder spokespeople say they treat the chimpanzees “with respect” and yet they turn them into clowns for the world to laugh at.
I’d like to point out that mocking sentient beings is hardly a sign of respect. And I say this with all due respect.

Cartoon by Herman the Chimp (with a tiny assist from Dawn Forsythe)