Posts Tagged ‘doc antle’

Take Action Tuesday: When “cute” animals reveal an ugly truth

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

If you’re reading this, you probably have a love of animals, so when you see videos and photos of animals that make you laugh or melt your heart, you want to share them. Us too! Unfortunately, there’s often an ugly truth behind “cute” videos and photos.

A prime example is the slow loris videos that have circulated. The slow loris is such an adorable primate, and the videos seem to show these animals in a happy environment. But the ugly truth is that these endangered animals are part of the illegal exotic pet trade and the behaviors that may look cute to us are actually signs of fear and stress.

A new example is the Android commercial called “Friends Furever” promoting unlikely animal friendships. Upon first glance, the video clips seem like a heartwarming example of friendship breaking the species barrier, and your first instinct might be to share the commercial with other animal lovers. The ugly reality is that exotic animals such as the orangutan and the elephant seen in the commercial are trained at a very young age (when they should be with their mothers) to pose for photos with humans, and they are forced into relationships with other species for the sole purpose of creating and circulating “cute” photos and videos. The orangutan, Suryia, and the elephant, Bubbles, both live at Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina.


Myrtle Beach Safari, operated by Bhagavan (Doc) Antle, has a history of repeated animal welfare violations. Masked behind what they claim is a sanctuary preserve, the facility regularly exploits their wild animals for a variety of media productions and endangers the public by offering “hands-on” experiences and traveling shows. Apes are wild animals, and without proper enclosures and respect for their true nature, many have attacked and brutally mauled humans.

Just last summer, two young chimpanzees were taken to a movie theater to garner attention for the Safari. Recently, these same chimpanzees, Vali and Sugriva, were seen on an episode of A&E’s Wild Transport, where they were taken to a crowded restaurant—creating yet another public safety risk just for a glorified publicity stunt.


In that episode, Vali and Sugriva were being transported to a facility in Miami called Jungle Island, where they have special “hands-on” encounters with guests, sometimes celebrities, which gains even more attention for the Safari.

After speaking with Eyes on Apes and other advocacy groups about the issues surrounding Vali and Sugriva’s appearance in the show, the A&E Network decided to cancel the series—setting a precedent for other companies to follow.

Unfortunately, actress Hayden Panettiere very recently posted a photo to her Twitter account of her holding the chimpanzee Vali at Jungle Island.


Images like this with humans in contact with chimpanzees perpetuate the misunderstanding about chimpanzees’ true nature and encourage the exotic pet industry.

Vali, Sugriva, Suryia, and dozens of other exotic animals under Antle’s care are living at a romanticized roadside zoo. These animals deserve better—they deserve a true sanctuary home where they can live out their lives without being shuffled from one exhibition to another.

Companies such as Pfizer have responded favorably when they learned the truth about Myrtle Beach Safari. We’d like to call upon Android to make the same compassionate decision.

We urge you to write to Android and Hayden Panettiere and ask that they remove any material that misinforms the public and promotes the Safari.

You can leave comments on Android’s Facebook page or the post of the Friends Furever video, reply to their tweet on Twitter about the commercial, and reply to Panettiere’s photo on Twitter as well. You can also email Panettiere, c/o her publicist, at . We’ve provided examples of what to write below.

In the big picture, when you see “cute” photos and videos of animals, ask yourself where these animals came from, where they are living now, what their future is likely to be like, and if the behaviors you see are the choice of the animal. You might be able to search and find the answers to these questions, or you might be left with more questions. When in doubt, don’t hit that share or forward button, because you might just be perpetuating exploitative, dangerous, or illegal activity.

Sample Facebook comment to Android:

I was disappointed to see that your new “Friends Furever” commercial promotes pseudo-sanctuaries such as Myrtle Beach Safari, where “unlikely animal friendships” like Suryia the orangutan and Roscoe the dog are forced after exotic animals are taken from their mothers at a very young age. In the wild, baby orangutans stay with their mothers until they are eight years old, so you can imagine how important that bond is for them. Not only does the Safari mislead the public into believing that these are “cute” relationships, but they also regularly put people at risk with public exhibitions of wild animals and exploit the animals for entertainment—things a reputable sanctuary would never do. This glorified roadside zoo has also had numerous animal welfare violations (

You’re not the first to be duped by this pseudo-sanctuary. Pfizer chose to alter a Robitussin commercial that was originally aired using Suryia, replacing the live animal scenes with realistic, high-tech computer generated images after they learned the truth behind the Safari. I urge you to make the same decision involving the clips of the exotic animals in your commercial. Thank you for your consideration of my comments on this urgent matter.

Sample Tweet to Android:

@Android please change #AndroidBFFs ad to exclude clips of animals in roadside zoos. Robitussin did it before! See more at

@Android “cute” #AndroidBFFs animals reveal an ugly truth. Don’t glorify roadside zoos! See more at

*Sample email to Hayden Panettiere:

Dear Ms. Panettiere,

I know that you are an animal lover and have spoken out about the dolphin slaughter in Japan. I applaud you for your passion! Because of your obvious concern for animals, I was shocked and disappointed to see a photo of you and a baby chimpanzee named Vali circulating social media. You should know that when people see you holding a baby chimpanzee it perpetuates the cruel pet and entertainment industries. Baby chimpanzees belong with their mothers, and they shouldn’t be shuffled around to exhibitions or hands-on encounters. Vali was reportedly purchased from an animal breeder, and he belongs in a true sanctuary where the focus would be on his needs, not the desire of the public to have photo-ops with him. I urge you to please remove the photo from your social media and pledge to never participate in hands-on experiences with captive wild animals again.

Sample Tweets to Hayden Panettiere:

@haydenpanettier please remove the photo of you and Vali the chimp. He deserves better! Learn more

@haydenpanettier love chimpanzees like you love dolphins – don’t participate in their exploitation!

RT! Tell @haydenpanettier to remove photo of her w/ chimp – they’re wild animals & shouldn’t be used for publicity.

Lastly, please share this alert with friends and family. Change can only happen with more awareness! Thank you for speaking up for apes in need.

*If you email Hayden, please remember to BCC 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.

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.

Pfizer changes Robitussin ad

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Primate Patrol is an advocacy branch of CSNW that is dedicated to ending the exploitation of great apes in entertainment. If you are not already signed up for Primate Patrol action alerts, sign up here: and be sure to like the Primate Patrol Facebook page.

Volunteer Debbie has been busy this summer and fall sending out alerts to the list, and we’ve seen positive results. Combined with other organizations and activists, we’ve reached Dodge, Whatcom Educational Credit Union, and now Pfizer.

At the end of this post is the alert about Pfizer’s decision to change their recent ad for Robitussin that featured an orangutan. The orangutan, Suryia, is owned by a facility called The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.). You’ve probably seen photos and videos of Suryia with a dog along with a story about their “friendship.”  Photos of a young chimpanzee pictured with a baby white tiger that have circulated widely are also from T.I.G.E.R.S.

T.I.G.E.R.S. is a confusing organization. They claim to work for conservation, yet they train the animals in their care to perform and regularly exploit them for all sorts of entertainment purposes. They breed animals and pride themselves on putting on live shows with exotic animals, including ligers, which are a hybrid species not seen in the wild. They allow visitors to get up close and personal and “cuddle” with potentially dangerous animals, which we all know is a recipe for disaster and not in the best interest of the animals. For film use they offer that if they don’t own a particular species of animal, they “can find it.”  T.I.G.E.R.S. in the business of exploiting exotic animals for profit, and Pfizer was apparently able to see this after being contacted by great ape activists.

The altered ad that Pfizer released could still be considered problematic. The human actor/computer generated chimpanzee that replaced Suyria the orangutan is actually quite good, and people may not realize he is not a real chimpanzee, so the message of great apes being funny creatures to laugh at is still present in the ad. However, Pfizer has agreed to never again use primates in advertising and they have gone to some expense to “walk their talk” by changing the commercial. They have shown that computer animation is as good if not better than using great ape actors, and they explain on the ad on their website that the chimpanzee is a “human actor enhanced by digital effects.”

Personally, I have always drawn inspiration from activist Henry Spira, and I count Peter Singer’s book Ethics into Action as one of my favorites.  I believe that this move by corporations like Dodge and Pfizer and Bodum to use computer generated great apes or other marketing techniques, even if those apes are depicted as silly, is what Spira called “moving the peanut forward.”

We welcome your views on the ad and this new move towards computer animation.

Here’s the Primate Patrol action alert that was sent out yesterday:

November 8, 2010

As many of you may know, Robitussin recently aired two commercials starring Suryia, a young orangutan “actor.” Pfizer, Robitussin’s parent company, listened to great ape advocates regarding the treatment of apes in entertainment. The company chose to remove the scenes featuring Suryia and instead replace him with a computer-generated chimpanzee.

Thank you to all our supporters that contacted Pfizer with their concerns about this marketing campaign! Go here to see Pfizer’s new and progressive commercial. Click on the video link on the right of the page.

The CGI in the new commercial shows that live apes do not need to be exploited for entertainment purposes. Pfizer has made the compassionate pledge to never exploit primates in any of their commercials again.

You may remember that earlier this year Dodge chose to alter a commercial with a chimpanzee “actor” as well. Using alternative marketing images rather than live animals is a growing trend in the advertising community, and we hope that Pfizer has helped set an example for other corporations.

This development would not have been accomplished without a growing public awareness of the inherent cruelty involved in using apes for entertainment purposes. We want to thank you for your involvement in this movement – your efforts are essential in creating a voice for abused and exploited apes. Please share this exciting news with your friends, and continue to spread the word about the issues surrounding primates in entertainment. You can make a difference!

Also take a look at PETA’s press release regarding this campaign.