Hall of Shame and Fame

We all like to smile at cute pictures or video of animals doing funny things. Or dressed in funny clothes, or making funny faces. I won’t put a costume on my cairn terrier, but I don’t begrudge others who do it to their pets. When it comes to the great apes, however, we need to just STOP IT, as I tried to convey in my video, Chimpanzee Smiles.

Exploiting great apes for human entertainment is wrong on so many different levels. Rather than harangue like a harridan, however, I’ve started the Great Ape Hall of Shame and Fame. In this hall, we will expose the exploiters and honor the honorable.
Hall of Shame

CareerBuilder appears to have abandoned its shameful multi-year Superbowl ad campaign using chimpanzees. The company has refused to swear off any future use, however, so they remain the most infamous marketing exploiter of chimpanzees for profit. One of the organizations most qualified to speak to this exploitation is Center for Great Apes, which has assumed the responsibility of providing lifetime care for many of the chimpanzees used by CareerBuilder in their ridiculous and infantile Super Bowl advertisements. As CFGA explains, many people (and several animal welfare groups) concerned about the use and exploitation of chimpanzees for TV commercials have written, signed petitions, and voiced their opposition to the company. CareerBuilder's utter disregard for chimpanzee welfare, and scorn for people who care about the issue, is evident again in the 2012 Super Bowl. This time, however, we are turning up the heat.

SHAME ON YOU, BILL MAHER (is shame about to change to fame??) 
Bill Maher is reportedly a board member of PETA, a group that pushes producers and marketers to sign the Great Ape Humane Pledge not to use live great apes for advertising, entertainment, or any other purpose. I understand that PETA has conveyed their concern to Maher, and asked him to stop using silly chimp photos, but he persists in gratuitous efforts to promote his movie, even though images like his actually hurts conservation education efforts. Research shows that when people see images like this (used by Maher as recently as December 2011), they are less likely to understand that chimpanzees are an endangered species.

Update (March 10, 2012): Maher posted a note on his Facebook page, informing fans that Religulous is now available streaming on Netflix -- and he didn't use the chimpanzee photo! Instead, he is using a 2008 promo piece showing his face on a piece of toast. Good move! I don't know why he changed, or if it is a permanent change in promotions, but I hope I can soon change his status to "Hall of Fame."

For the cover of his book, Earth (The Book), Jon chose an image of Ricky, a circus chimp, sitting at a desk. Research shows that when people see images of chimps with humans, they are less likely to understand that these animals do not make good pets and that they should not be housed in garages and basements. By the time chimpanzee advocates saw the book, it was too late to do anything about it, at least for the edition that had already been printed, so hundreds of people asked Stewart to at least have a guest who could talk about the problem of using chimps as promotional gimmicks. As far as I know, no one was asked to appear on the Daily Show.

Honestly, what is it with these late night comics?? Conan is evidently following in Maher and Stewart's shoes and, as always, trying to up them one better (lower), by using this picture for his Twitter account. Hey Conan, this could have worked with Milton Berle, but today it just demonstrates a paucity of comedic creativity.

One would think that a premiere science magazine would refrain from the tired and cheap exploitation of apes, and that a solid scientific article would not want to depend on chimp-and-pretty-girl images to attract readers. One would be wrong to think that. The February 2012 issue of Psychology Today used a plethora of photos of a chimpanzee in gentleman's garb, kissing a girl, to “illustrate” the points an author was making about finding the right mate, or something. (I refused to read the article.) As Marc Bekoff points out, it is a misuse of chimpanzees that damages the public’s perception of them. And it’s not even amusing.

The Shriners announced that they have added a new chimpanzee act to their circus, after 20 years of going without a chimp. Instead of moving forward, the Elf Khurafeh Shriners are moving back to the bad old times. It is so sad that a caring organization doesn't seem to care about exploiting this young chimpanzee. See how not funny the act is, in their YouTube ad. The chimp is likely one of the Rosaire-Zoppe Chimpanzees. (Now, that's a name to Google if you want to be utterly and totally disgusted, which I don't recommend before breakfast.)

You've probably seen one of Doc Antle's "cute" - but totally despicable - photos going viral on the internet. The baby orangutan with the dog? His. The young chimpanzee and white tiger? His. The deliberate, money-grubbing self promotion that takes animal exploitation to a new level? His. He calls his outfit The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (get it? TIGER). A tumblr post by naturepunk nicely summarizes Doc's scams and shams.

Founded in the 1930s, this "classic" fast food company remains mired in the juvenile thinking of the last century, as evidenced by its use of a costumed chimpanzee in one of its ads. Several animal welfare organizations have asked them to take the ad off the air, and to pledge not to exploit apes in any future ads. So far, Steak 'n Shake has ignored the requests. Anjelica Huston has blasted the company.

In a February 11, 2013 broadcast,  WHO TV reporter Sonya Heitshusen joins a decades-long line of television "news" personalities who sell their objectivity for the opportunity to hold a cute ape baby. Reporting that concerned former Great Ape Trust/Bonobo Hope/Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary professional caregivers and researchers were mere "volunteers" who complained about Savage-Rumbaugh, and effectively dismissing concerns expressed by other professionals, Heitshusen becomes the latest public relations and fundraising tool of the faux "sanctuary."

If I was to make a list of people least likely to exploit chimpanzees, DiCaprio would have been on it -- until today. I cannot believe that he is clueless enough to actually act with a chimp in his new movie, Wolf of Wall Street. Unfortunately, now that Leo has taken the cheap road to movie yuks, he joins the Hall of Shame. And let's not forget Martin Scorsese's ignorance as director of the movie.

Hall of Fame

Tropicana did the right thing when they
took down this ad featuring Aiden/Chance
and Jane Krakowski.
We have a great example of a corporation doing the right thing. Tropicana’s Trop50 Orange Juice put up a disgraceful ad in April 2012, using a costumed baby chimpanzee (Aiden/Chance, owned by notorious ape exploiter Pam Rosaire Zappo) with B-list actress Jane Krakowski. When over 200 ape advocates quickly went to Tropicana’s Facebook pages to complain, Trop50 compounded their error by defending their exploitation as a rescue for this poor chimpanzee. Of course, that ignorant PR fantasy enraged the community even more. (See Hey Tropicana, stop exploiting litte Aiden!) But within 72 hours, sane adults at Pepsico/Tropicana stepped in. “Dawn, we really appreciate your taking the time post on our wall. Wanted to take this opportunity to reiterate that Tropicana is a company that takes animal welfare seriously,” Tropicana posted. “Our advertising is intended to focus first and foremost on communicating the value of our premium quality brands. In the case of this ad, we have taken steps to re-arrange our media schedule to have it replaced. Regards.”

On behalf of the hundreds who spoke up, I send regards back to the compassionate and caring people at Tropicana. (But I recommend remedial training for the marketing team and the PR folks at Trop50. And get rid of advertising firm Contagious Content, for pete’s sake!!) We never heard from Krakowski, so she is not admitted to the Hall of Fame.

Vanessa Woods blogged at Psychology Today, until they plastered their ignorant chimpanzee-and-pretty-girl photos all over their February 2012 issue. Vanessa ended her affiliation with PT on January 12, saying that she can’t write for an organization that promotes the abuse of chimpanzees. Vanessa’s blog will be returning to http://bonobohandshake.blogspot.com/, she writes.

In 2010, Robitussin started a new advertising campaign featuring Suriya, a young exploited orangutan made famous in that “orangutan and hound dog are best friends” YouTube video staged by her owner. Animal advocates went bonkers, and Robitussin responded immediately and pledged not use live orangutans again. When Robitussin ads started appearing in 2011, people were curious. That looks like Suriya, but is it? No, it isn’t. It is computer generated imagery. As a spokeswoman for Pfizer wrote me on Nov 17, 2011:

Hi Dawn -
Thank you for your recent inquiry. Yes, we can confirm that the orangutan in all of the new Robitussin advertisements is computer-generated imagery (CGI). Pfizer Consumer Healthcare made the decision in November of last year to always use a CGI orangutan in marketing and advertising materials moving forward.
We hope this eases your concerns and please let us know if you have any further questions.
All the best,
Kristy Parker
Communications Manager, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare


  1. I wish you people would get this emotional an care this much about real issues that really affect our nation then aninamls in freaking movies an commercials. How about dissabled an homeless vetrans or child hunger in the U.S.

    1. It isn't an "either/or" situation. People who care about the exploitation of animals also care about child hunger and homelessness -- and more. "Caring" is the operative word.

    2. I get very tired of people always saying we animal advocates should care about "real issues". You choose yours. I choose mine. It is definitely not an either/or. If we waited until all "people problems" were solved before turning our eyes to animal suffering, they would never get any attention.

    3. P.S. Anyone with spelling that atrocious (even in the age of spell-check) can't be taken very seriously in the first place.

  2. I did a post on The Wolf of Wall Street a few weeks ago, and someone who states that he is in the film industry and who knows that particular chimp responded telling me how well taken care of this monkey is. You can read the entry and comments here: http://vegancinephile.com/2013/10/16/an-open-letter-to-leonardo-dicaprio-why-i-wont-be-seeing-the-wolf-of-wall-street/

    What I want to know is where a chimp that age was rescued from -- clearly he's a baby, so unless his captive mother gave birth to him and someone found out that they were living in horrific situations, it makes me suspicious.

    1. DiCaprio is exploiting a young chimp named "Chance." Chance’s real name, before he got a name change in the grand Hollywood tradition, was Aiden. A family bought him as an infant from Savannahland, but decided to dump him. A renowned chimp welfare advocate tried, but failed, to convince them to send Aiden to an accredited zoo or sanctuary. The family refused. Instead, they sold him to Pam Rosaire, in order to recoup some of the money they spent on him. Pam and her sister Kay call themselves a sanctuary, but Big Cat Habitat continues to stage chimp shows and market their chimps for show biz gigs.

  3. I worked in a circus years ago (1986) with Roger and Pam Zoppe. If you're a chimp, you don't want to end up with them. They keep them isolated in small cages( there's not much room in a traveling circus) and they have to isolate them for many reasons, one being the stress of confinement that leads to fights and injuries.Trainers like the Zoppes inevitably have to use physical punishment to manage chimpanzees, who are enormously strong even when young so they must remain intimidated by their trainers.I've researched the subject and I realize there is no way to have chimps perform on demand humanely.Dawn knows what she's talking about. Years ago, I was one of those people who saw performing chimps as harmless fun.Like many, I never thought about or considered how people got them, never thought about how they were stolen from their mothers or possibly abused,until I joined circuses that used chimps and educated myself.I hope to see chimp and other animal acts come to an end soon.

  4. I know Dawn has already told you how chimps live and are abused in training by entertainers, I posted the previous message about the Rosaire - Zoppe trainers. I hope those who still want to believe that there isn't anything wrong with exploiting these apes will go to YouTube and other sites and see the overwhelming evidence of mistreatment of apes and other wildlife by animal trainers.I don't see how any decent person could justify what they endure to perform tricks for us.The circus will live on for families and children,only this time it will be only human acrobats and clowns!


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