It has come to my attention that Chicago-based company CareerBuilder will again use chimpanzees in advertisements during the SuperBowl this year. Just like last year, I am upset by this news and disappointed with those who have chosen to use chimpanzees—dressed like humans—for comedic effect.
Several recent scientific studies published in notable, peer-reviewed journals including Science and PLoS One demonstrate a direct correlation between people viewing chimpanzees in commercials, such as CareerBuilder’s, and their conservation actions and attitudes after viewing. A pattern is clear—people who view chimpanzees in human settings are less inclined to think the species is endangered and less inclined to support conservation efforts to save them. Unfortunately, the fact is that chimpanzees are in rapid decline and experts fear they may be extinct within the next 50 years if significant conservation action isn’t taken.
Using chimpanzees in entertainment is also rife with welfare concerns. As our assistant director of the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, Steve Ross, Ph.D., explains, these animals are often taken from their mothers at a young age, which can result in tremendous emotional and psychological distress. The “acting” careers of chimpanzees are typically only a few short years, after which they become too large, strong and unmanageable. Because chimps can live 60 years, those deemed no longer useful to the media may end up in suboptimal housing for the next several decades.
“These are endangered species we’re talking about,” adds Ross. “CareerBuilder is well aware that their commercials are contributing to negative outcomes for this species and yet they continue this damaging and archaic practice. It’s very disappointing.”
So what can you do? Educate yourself, learn ways to take action by visiting ChimpCARE
, and if you have a youngster, download
the free iPad children’s book, “Chimps Should Be Chimps,” which helps the next generation better understand what chimps need so that they can make our world a better place for wildlife. Keep your eye out for media coverage of these commercials, which might spur change. And lastly, express your feelings in the comment section below this post. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Here’s hoping that public reaction to CareerBuilder’s commercials is vocal and negative. I will keep you posted.