Though the nation’s top ad agencies as well as several companies have pledged to never use great apes in commercials because of public outcry, there are still chimpanzees being actively used in entertainment, forced to perform for a cheap laugh. Last November, a TV show on Nick Jr. called the Fresh Beat Band featured an episode with two young chimpanzees, dressed in human clothes, side-by-side with humans. Since this show is geared toward children, it could potentially influence young minds to believe that having a chimpanzee as a pet in a human household is an acceptable—and even fun—thing to do. Portraying chimpanzees as cute and cuddly attractions seriously misinforms the public about their true nature. As you may remember from a few years ago, Travis, a “pet” chimpanzee, brutally mauled a woman—which was not surprising for those who are chimpanzee experts and know that they should not live with humans due to their natural aggressive behavior. Very recently, reports came from Japan about an entertainment chimpanzee who attacked a woman. Chimpanzees simply do not belong in a human environment! Since this episode of the Fresh Beat Band is still running on Nick Jr., it is still influencing children into thinking pet ownership is OK. Please write to the producer to ask them to pull the episode from rotation and pledge to never work with apes again.
Sample letter to write to the producer of the Fresh Beat Band: email@example.com
I recently became aware that last November, you aired an episode of the Fresh Beat Band with young chimpanzees dressed in human clothing, and that the episode is still airing. You should know that great apes used in entertainment are torn away from their mothers as infants, often repeatedly beaten during training, and then discarded when they become too strong to be managed.
Showing a chimpanzee side-by-side with humans sends the message that they are cute and cuddly attractions, and especially since your show is targeted toward children, your audience is easily influenced by what you portray. Chimpanzees do not make good pets as they should be with their mothers when they’re young, and when they are older they become very strong and are potentially violent. Surely you have heard about recent chimp attacks in the news? This episode portrays chimpanzees in a human environment, making it seem like pet ownership is OK when it is not.
Please make the compassionate decision to stop re-running the episode called “Chimps in Charge,” and please consider to never exploit great apes for entertainment purposes again. Thank you for your consideration of my comments on this urgent matter.
Live action TV shows and films that feature entertainment chimpanzees are not the only forms of media that can have an influence on public perception—print ads are just as influential. Tieks, a popular shoe company, has several pictures from a photo shoot done with an infant chimpanzee a couple years ago posted on their Facebook page. The images can potentially mislead people into thinking that chimpanzees dressed up in clothes, “smiling,” and being side-by-side with humans is funny. Unfortunately, the “smile” we see on greeting cards as well as in television shows, advertisements, and movies is not funny at all—it’s a fear response. Please ask Tieks to take the photos of a young chimpanzee off their Facebook page, and encourage them to make a pledge to never use chimpanzees in future marketing campaigns.
Sample letter to write to Tieks shoe company: firstname.lastname@example.org
I was shocked and disappointed to hear that there are images on your Facebook page of a chimpanzee dressed in human clothes and “smiling” with their top teeth. In reality, that is a “fear grimace”—chimpanzees make this face when they are afraid, which indicates that this chimpanzees has likely been threatened or abused during their training.
Using a chimpanzee for a cheap laugh sends the message that these amazing beings are simply props. Surely you are aware that chimpanzees are endangered species in critical need of protection? You are exploiting chimpanzees for your own profits and this is an unacceptable business practice.
Please make the compassionate decision to remove the photos currently posted on your Facebook page. They are scattered throughout several of your albums. I also hope that you will commit to never using images that exploit great apes for promotion purposes again. Thank you for your consideration of my comments on this urgent matter, and I look forward to your response.
**If you send a letter to the Fresh Beat Band producer and/or Tieks, please BCC PrimatePatrol@ChimpSanctuaryNW.org for tracking purposes. Thank you!