Archive for the ‘Apes in Entertainment’ Category

Take Action Tuesday! Tell Ramsay to stick to yelling at would-be chefs and leave chimpanzees alone

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

EOA take action tuesday

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay recently posted photos of himself and his family members holding a baby chimpanzee to his Facebook page. The chimpanzee is showing his or her top teeth in this photo, which is actually a fear grin—not a smile.

Chimpanzees are not pets! They are wild animals who should be with their mothers when they are young, and who are dangerous when they get older. Seeing chimpanzees in close contact with humans perpetuates the idea that they can be treated like pets.

We’re so disappointed that Gordon Ramsay is promoting the exotic animal trade rather than using his celebrity status to protect chimpanzees, who are critically endangered in the wild.

We want Gordon Ramsay to remove the Facebook photos of the baby chimpanzee. Please send a polite letter to him, c/o his publicist Staci Wolfe, letting him know that chimps should not be used for photo ops alongside humans. Please urge Ramsay to remove all the photos from his Facebook page and promise to never host a visit with a chimpanzee again.


You may send your letter to Gordon Ramsay c/o Staci Wolfe at

Sample Letter to Gordon Ramsay:

Dear Mr. Ramsay:

I was disappointed to hear that you took photos with your family holding a baby chimpanzee and posted them to your Facebook page. You should know that when chimpanzees show their top teeth it is a sign of distress, not happiness.

Chimpanzees provided for photos ops to pose with humans are torn away from their mothers as infants, often repeatedly beaten during training, and then discarded when they become too strong to be managed.

Using a chimpanzee for a photo op sends the message that these amazing beings are simply props. When people see you holding a baby chimpanzee, they assume that chimpanzees make good pets. Though chimpanzees may seem cute and cuddly when infants, they become dangerous as they get older. They are an endangered species that should be protected, not used for entertainment.

Please make the compassionate decision to remove the photos, and pledge to never pose holding baby chimpanzees again. Thank you for your consideration of my comments on this urgent matter.

[Your name here]

If you send an e-mail to Gordon, please remember to BCC Eyes on Apes at for tracking purposes. Thank you!

Chimpanzees Don’t Belong on Either Side of the Theater Screen

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

A story appeared recently in the Daily Mail and Good Morning America showing images and video of two young chimpanzees, Vali and Sugriva, going to the theater with their “handlers” and watching the film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The irony is that the two young chimpanzees were exploited for this publicity stunt, and brought into a theater to watch a movie that purposefully avoided using live ape actors… (Read more on Care2)

Angel was kept in a Hollywood training facility and routinely beaten and abused into submission by her trainers. She displayed a toothy grin—called a fear grimace—just at the sight of a camera. Angel was rescued by the Center for Great Apes as part of a legal suit against her former trainer.

Angel was kept in a Hollywood training facility and routinely beaten and abused into submission by her trainers. She displayed a toothy grin—called a fear grimace—just at the sight of a camera. Angel was rescued by the Center for Great Apes as part of a legal suit against her former trainer.

For more on the training facility Vali and Sugriva live at, visit our trainer page on Eyes on Apes.

Thank you to Care2 for posting our op-ed on this issue! Please share the article with your friends and get the word out that chimpanzees do not belong on either side of the theater screen.

Eyes on Apes website

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

One of our missions at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest is to advocate for apes everywhere, which is why we developed the program Eyes on Apes. The idea is to have one centralized area for people to learn about issues that apes face both in captivity and in the wild, while providing tools for you to take action.

There’s a lot of great information on the pages for each of the issues (entertainment, pets, roadside zoos, biomedical research, and free-living issues in Africa and Asia).

One thing we just added were some pages on individual trainers in the entertainment industry. This is a really nice resource for people to have when you hear about a chimp in a commercial or movie and are curious what it is like for them with their trainers. Each page lists facts about the trainers, any relevant USDA citations, and links to our action alerts about productions these trainers were involved in.

Please share this site with your friends, and help raise awareness for apes everywhere! You can ask them to sign up for our Take Action list in order to get action alerts and help make a difference for apes everywhere.

Take a look through all the pages—there’s been some makeovers throughout the site, like this informational map showing the current vs. historical population of African apes:


And, since this was a little bit of a wordy post, I thought I’d throw in a picture of Negra from this morning’s breakfast forage on Young’s Hill:


Take Action Tuesday: Chance in Wolf of Wall Street

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

EOA take action tuesday

This action alert went out earlier today. Not on the mailing list? Sign up for Eyes on Apes Take Action list today to get these alerts straight to your inbox!

In the upcoming movie Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio is seen holding an infant chimpanzee, Chance. It is especially disappointing because Mr. DiCaprio is known for his passion for animal conservation—most recently he supported conservation efforts to save tigers in Nepal.

Animal advocacy groups have contacted Mr. DiCaprio and the movie producers, however our efforts to reach out have not resulted in Chance’s scenes getting removed from the movie. Now it is time for the public to speak up!


Chance was once a pet, and his previous owners discarded him to a pseudo-sanctuary called the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary. The animal attraction claims to be a reserve for animals, but they regularly exploit their residents for entertainment purposes. In fact, Chance’s owners (the Rosaire-Zoppe family) are the only remaining trainers that continue to use chimpanzees in circuses. No respectable reserve or animal sanctuary would lease out their animals for media productions such as this movie.

Even if the AHA was present for filming, they have no authority over Chance’s treatment off-set, making the “no animals were harmed” disclaimer misleading.

Portraying chimpanzees as cute and cuddly attractions seriously misinforms the public on the true nature of these beings and perpetuates the pet and entertainment industries. Studies have shown that showing chimpanzees alongside humans in film and TV mask their endangered status, and these scenes hurt conservation efforts.

Despite hearing these facts from advocacy groups, the Wolf of Wall Street producers have not removed Chance’s scenes from the movie, which will be released on December 25. We encourage you to please post on the movie’s poster on their Facebook page and Twitter to let them know that because of the issues with Chance’s scenes you will not be going to see the movie, and you will tell all your friends to boycott it with you.

Sample Facebook Post:

I’m boycotting Wolf of Wall Street because of the chimpanzee scenes! Even Hollywood knows that abuse occurs when animals are used in movies ( Chimpanzees don’t belong in movies unless they are CGI. Chimpanzees are an endangered species and showing them as cute and cuddly props hurts conservation efforts and perpetuates the pet trade.

Sample Tweets:

Pls RT! Join @EyesOnApes and tell @LeoDiCaprio chimps should not be in movies & you won’t see @TheWolfofWallSt!

RT! @LeoDiCaprio I will boycott @TheWolfofWallSt because of Chance’s scenes. Chimps do not belong in movies!

Don’t support animal abuse. Refuse to see @LeoDiCaprio in @TheWolfofWallSt and tell all your friends. Pls RT!

The final thing you can do to help Chance is to spread the word! Please share this alert on social media and encourage your friends to boycott the movie with you.

Take Action Tuesday: Billy chimp on Chelsea Lately

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

EOA take action tuesday

This Action Alert was sent out today to our Eyes on Apes Take Action list—have you joined? Sign up for the list today to get these alerts straight to your inbox!

Many of you might have seen that a chimpanzee named Billy was on the show Chelsea Lately last week. Billy was seen rocking and showing his top teeth—a clear sign of distress. The show said they would have Billy back the next night, and despite hearing from thousands of people to please not air Billy again, they went ahead with the segment anyway.

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 12.18.45 PM

We want to continue to put pressure on the show and on Chelsea Handler, the host of the show. Please send a polite letter to her, c/o Tom Brunelle, letting her know that chimps like Billy should not be used in entertainment. Not only are there numerous welfare concerns, but seeing chimpanzees alongside humans perpetuates the pet trade. Studies also show that since chimpanzees are so prevalent in media, people aren’t aware of their endangered status. Please speak up for Billy and all chimpanzees still used in entertainment and ask Chelsea to issue a mea culpa about Billy’s appearance and promise to never use apes on her production again.

You may send your letter to the Chelsea Handler c/o Tom Brunelle at

Sample Letter to Chelsea Lately:

Dear Ms. Handler:

I was disappointed to hear that Chelsea Lately had Billy the chimpanzee on the show, and despite hearing from concerned advocates, aired a second appearance by Billy. 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.

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?

Please make the compassionate decision to issue a mea culpa for airing Billy’s segments two nights in a row, and pledge to never exploit great apes for entertainment purposes again. Thank you for your consideration of my comments on this urgent matter.

[Your name here]
[Your city & state]

If you send an e-mail to Chelsea, please remember to BCC Eyes on Apes at for tracking purposes. Thank you!

In honor of Sarah Baeckler

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored in honor of Sarah Baeckler by Patty Wilkerson! As Patty appropriately summed up when asked about sponsoring the day, “Who doesn’t love Sarah?!” And we couldn’t agree more! Sarah is the former Executive Director of Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest and recently moved out of state and into the next chapter of her life as Executive Director of the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance. And though she works tirelessly to improve the lives of primates everywhere, she still manages to come back to volunteer her time at the sanctuary as a volunteer caregiver. (As a side note, Patty is a chimp house volunteer who also comes from out of state. We have the most dedicated volunteers!).

I suspect Foxie is going to be doing a lot of pirouettes and back flips when she sees her good friend, Sarah, today. We humans might as well, but that would just be awkward, so we’ll leave it to Foxie.

Foxie with a playface

Patty, thank you so much for honoring Sarah and the chimpanzees in such a thoughtful way!

Take Action Tuesday: New children’s book exploits Anjana and tiger cubs

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

EOA take action tuesday

Exploitation comes in many forms, and, unfortunately, it isn’t always obvious at first glance. Many of you have seen the “cute” pictures of a baby chimpanzee holding white tiger cubs or the photos and videos of an orangutan with a hound dog. These images and stories have been circulating and re-released in many forms over the last six years. All of these animals reside at a facility called The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.).

Although T.I.G.E.R.S preaches about species conservation and they claim to contribute toward helping endangered species, the source of their money-making is nowhere near ethical. The premise of their facility revolves around photo ops and up-close and hands-on interaction with these animals, using them in traveling shows, and leasing them out for a variety of media productions. Displaying wild animals in this way involves numerous animal welfare concerns and poses serious public safety risks.

Suryia, the same orangutan who is seen with the hound dog, appeared in a Robitussin ad in 2010. You may remember that this ad was altered as a result of our advocacy efforts and other public pressure – Suryia was replaced by a CGI chimpanzee in the ad.

T.I.G.E.R.S. director Bhagavan “Doc” Antle continues to use the “unlikely animal friendships” angle to exploit endangered species and give the wrong impression of the proper care of these animals. He has published children’s books about Suryia and the hound dog, and now has a new book about Anjana the chimpanzee and the tiger cubs. It is scheduled to release in November, just in time for the holidays.

The books present children with the misleading notion that T.I.G.E.R.S. is a sanctuary preserve, when in truth it is a glorified roadside zoo with a history of violations for improper housing and care for the animals. Antle is also famous for showcasing ligers (a lion-tiger cross) who notoriously have genetic abnormalities, neurological disorders, and short life expectancies due to their unnatural breeding.

Doc Antle's children's books

Don’t support this exploitation. When you receive an email or see images of baby apes with other animals on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc, take the opportunity to investigate where the animals are living, and politely educate people on the true circumstances behind the photos. If the image is an orangutan with a dog or a chimpanzee with tiger cubs, now you know the real story.

Encourage your friends and family to avoid purchasing Antle’s children’s books. As an alternative, we suggest purchasing an educational children’s book about chimpanzee behavior like “A Chimpanzee Tale.” You can also give the books negative ratings on Amazon, which may deter others from purchasing them.

Sample response to emails and Facebook posts with “cute” pictures of baby apes:

Sadly, this picture is not cute and cuddly as it may appear. Portraying these exotic animals as cute and cuddly attractions seriously misinforms people about the true nature of these beings and perpetuates the pet and entertainment industries. Infant apes should be with their mothers — not tiger cubs, dogs, or humans. Unfortunately, the facilities where these pictures originate are breeding exotic animals, which leads to a lifetime of unwarranted imprisonment for those animals. No respectable sanctuary would intentionally breed, nor would they put their animals on display or exploit them for entertainment purposes.

Sample negative feedback for Amazon’s listing of Anjana and Suryia’s books:

This book paints a false picture of a hopeful, loving environment for Anjana and the other exotic animals at T.I.G.E.R.S. Unfortunately, the facility regularly exploits these animals for entertainment purposes, endangers the public by offering “hands-on” experiences, and breeds exotic animals, leading to a lifetime of unwarranted imprisonment. No reputable sanctuary would intentionally breed, nor would they put their animals on display or exploit them for entertainment purposes. Please do not buy this book for your children. It is highly misleading and purchasing it will only contribute to the continued exploitation of these highly intelligent beings.

Chimpanzee smiles

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

One of the very first things I learned about chimpanzees when I started working in this field was how they smile. I went to a presentation before visiting the chimps that I eventually worked for at the (now former) CHCI, and they explained that when we were around the chimpanzees we needed to cover our top teeth.

This sounded so strange to me at the time. We tried a “chimpanzee smile” by covering our top teeth and showing our bottom teeth. It felt pretty silly to do, but they explained that a human smile is seen as a threatening expression to chimpanzees. When they are afraid or when they are trying to be intimidating, they will show all their top teeth and do what we call a “fear grimace.”

I was stunned. I knew I had laughed at commercials with “smiling” chimpanzees, gone to movies and even bought birthday cards because they were funny to me. I was upset with the fact that I had contributed to the industry that threatens and abuses chimpanzees in order to get that “funny” expression. I quickly learned that there’s a reason we call it a fear grimace—my first time seeing a chimpanzee conflict was when I truly knew that chimpanzees do not smile with happiness the same way we do.

From that moment on, I decided that I wanted to help educate others about what I had learned that day, and now I am very fortunate to be working not only as a caregiver at CSNW but also the advocacy coordinator for the sanctuary. I am very passionate about helping all of you help them! So in the future, try to avoid buying media that exploits chimpanzees and definitely subscribe to the Eyes on Apes Take Action alerts so you will know when there’s something you can help out with.

Here’s an example of a fear grimace during a conflict from a few years ago. Notice how Annie is showing all of her teeth:


And Foxie then responds in fear as well:


Chimpanzees rely so much on nonverbal behaviors (actually—so do humans, it’s just that we talk so much you don’t always notice the nonverbal stuff) so it’s really important to send social cues to convey what the context is. Since they can’t say “I’m really scared” they use all the nonverbal cues to let everyone around them know. They scream, they show all their teeth, they stand up to look intimidating, sometimes reach out for reassurance, and so on. The very opposite of these behaviors is covering their top teeth, play bowing instead of standing up, and laughing instead of screaming (amongst many other social signals to communicate “I’m being playful!”)

Here’s Burrito demonstrating a perfect playface:




Jamie and Foxie:

web jamie foxie laugh play box play face playroom IMG_0132

Missy and Jody:

web Missy JOdy playfaces YH IMG_1172


Annie with a huge playface (Missy's hand)

Negra and Missy:

Negra and Missy playing

Take Action Tuesday: Split-listing may be removed!

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

EOA take action tuesday

This morning the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)  announced that they are proposing to remove the split listing between captive and free-living chimpanzees, making ALL chimpanzees endangered. This potentially will have a major influence on how chimpanzees are treated in this country. It will certainly have an impact on invasive research and most likely entertainment as well.

Read our press release on the proposal and see this news article featuring a photo of CSNW’s resident, Jody (read her story here).

At this moment, the FWS  has only made a proposal and this does not guarantee that it will be passed.  The FWS is currently accepting public comment, so we need your help! Please leave a comment here to express your thoughts on this issue. Let them know that chimpanzees should be regarded as an endangered species and that the hundreds of chimps still in labs and entertainment truly deserve to be in sanctuaries. Spread the word!


Jamie’s story

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Jamie is probably the smartest primate you’ll ever meet. Her exact birthdate is unknown, but she was likely born in 1977. We celebrate her birthday on Halloween every year – it fits her mischievous personality. Jamie’s early years were spent around humans. She lived with a trainer and was probably used in some form of entertainment. She was clearly exposed to a lot more human-like things than most lab chimpanzees are.

Jamie’s records are really scarce. What we can decipher is that Buckshire likely purchased Jamie in the mid 80s, after she was with a trainer for about nine years. After that, she may have been leased to the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP) in New York, where she was given the tattoo “#CH522.” She was likely used in hepatitis B vaccine trials, and possibly as a breeder, though we have no records of any offspring.

Jamie’s tattoo on her chest reads “522.” On her first day at CSNW, you could still make it out on her pale skin:

web jamie tattoo early Picture 020

All of the technician notes from Jamie’s physicals including something along the lines of “pulls hair from stomach.” In captivity, and especially in dismal conditions, chimpanzees will develop stereotypic behaviors such as over-grooming by pulling their hair. Diana noted Jamie’s bare belly on their first visit to Buckshire. In the lab, Jamie had very little choices and zero control over her life. She resorted to pulling her hair out due to pure boredom.

web jamie bare belly early

Unfortunately, Jamie still exhibits this behavior. For the first year she was at the sanctuary, we saw no sign of her hair plucking. Now it varies from no sign at all to a small, bare patch. Though her environment has improved exponentially, the habits that chimpanzees pick up in situations of deprivation often continue even when their environment improves. And no captive situation can provide the rich social, emotional, and mental stimulation that chimpanzees evolved to experience. It is unfair that Jamie has to live in captivity, and we think she knows that.

It’s impossible to imagine Jamie in a small biomedical cage with nothing to keep her mind stimulated, and we’re so happy that we can now provide ways for her to stay active. Whether it’s drawing, putting together tools, taking things apart, working on a tricky project, getting a new boot, or expressing her innate chimpanzee-ness on Young’s Hill, these are all things that she did not have during her decades when she was viewed as a mere tool for biomedical progress.

Jamie enjoying a piece of fruit from her breakfast forage:

web Jamie stand eat food orange peel look at camera YH (ek) IMG_8958

Jamie and Jody investigating something on the hill:

web Jamie Jody search for critter log bridge YH IMG_6791

Jamie, quite content, taking a nap with a boot:

Jamie with her boot

Celebrate the “boss lady” and her amazing new freedom she has in sanctuary. Give Five today and share with your friends!