October 29th, 2009 by Jackie

For me, going to Blockbuster or Hollywood Video to look for a movie is always an interesting experience. It never fails- I will see a movie with a chimp on the cover “smiling”. This facial expression that we, as humans, understand as a happy face is not a happy face for a chimpanzee. A “human smile” displayed by a chimpanzee is actually a “fear grimace” and is displayed when a chimp is afraid or excited. When a chimpanzee is used for entertainment purposes, they are trained to fear grimace for the camera. I thought, in this regard, I would post some pictures to demonstrate the difference between a fear grimace and a chimpanzee smile.


Below is an older picture of Jody displaying a fear grimace. If I had to guess, I would say she was afraid someone might steal her watermelon…

Here is a picture of Jody with a playface or a chimpanzee smile. THIS is a happy chimpanzee:

and a happy Foxie:

12 Responses to “Smiling?”

  1. Margaret and Karen says:

    I am so glad you posted this, Jackie. This is one of the most important facts to get out about chimpanzees IMO.

  2. Theresa says:

    It doesn’t take long to differentiate between a fear grimace and true chimp smile when watching them but many people don’t know the difference. This is a good example and way of showing people that difference. Good education value!

  3. Candy (Tyler, TX) says:

    Thank you Jackie, this information is so important. Chimpanzees in print should have their smiles photoshopped, gosh, why not make a computerized chimpanzee.

    Sarah, what a very brave thing you did when you went undercover to expose training practices of entertainment chimpanzees. I can’t even imagine what is done to the chimps to get them to show this face, the face that is suppose to be a smile.

  4. Rachel J says:

    Yay, thanks Jackie! Seeing such movies always realllly bugs me too.. as well as greeting cards. I always hide the ‘smiling’ chimp cards with other cards when I see them, although I’m sure it doesn’t help that much! It just makes me feel al little better. Of course, such cards, movies or books are also entitled something like “MONKEY business” or “just MONKEYing around.” Arrrggghhhh.

  5. Amy M. says:

    Yes — excellent educational post!!

  6. Jackie says:

    Rachel- re: greeting cards- I do the same thing…

  7. Meredith Buist says:

    I’m so glad I know the difference now. Good to know so we do not feed into the misuse of animals in entertainment.

  8. Sarah says:

    Thanks Candy! Getting a happy ending for most of the chimps I worked with and spreading the word on behalf of the rest makes it all worthwhile. We can make a difference for them!

  9. Linda (Portland, OR) says:

    Thank you so much Jackie, these pics are excellent examples. Once you’ve learned the difference, it’s easy to spot and the Happy Face is so much better!!

    Chimps hugs!!

  10. Gayle says:

    I just received a bday card from my sister with a chimp showing a fear face. I know she meant well and thought I would love it but I cringed when I opened it. I thanked her very much and, in conversation later on, I “gently” explained to her that this chimp was not happy. She understood and even promised me she would not buy anything being marketed using chimps. She’ll pass this on to the people in her office and they’ll pass it on from there. As insignificant as this was it made me feel good.

  11. Jackie says:

    Good for you, Gayle. Every bit counts!

  12. Margaret and Karen says:

    From Karen: Very important post regarding chimps on cards etc. It may help if hose of us concerned contact directly the card companies who use chimps in their merchandise and tell them we will boycott their cards and publicize for others to do so as long as they continue to use chimps. Also, contacting Safeway, Kroger, Hallmark and other stores displaying such cards for sale may be helpful. It can be very effective to say you will boycott their stores until this stops. Also, I send the names of companies who are selling them to PeTA as they are working on this too. We CAN stop this. Great posts.