Lincoln Park Zoo Responds to CVS’ Promise to Stop Selling Problematic Greeting Cards Featuring Chimpanzees

Animals & Gardens

December 03, 2021

Lincoln Park Zoo applauds this week’s decision by CVS to ban the selling of greeting cards featuring unnatural images of great apes. Although this seems like a small step, this action will have a positive and enduring impact on chimpanzee conservation efforts.

Chimpanzee, Cashew, at Regenstein Center for African Apes 

Since 2010, the zoo’s Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, led by Steve Ross, Ph.D., has pioneered research on the effects that seeing inaccurate media portrayals of chimpanzees has on the public. This research found that when people experience chimpanzees depicted as actors in movies and on greeting cards wearing clothes or in human-like settings, they are less likely to understand the true endangered status of these animals. This undermines conservation programs designed to assist chimpanzees and other great apes.

Chimpanzees are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with a decreasing population that can be attributed to habitat loss and hunting, with climate change serving to only worsen alterations to their native environments.

While the media has significantly curtailed the use of live chimpanzees in new film and photography projects, stock footage still exists and continues to be used. Earlier in 2021, drug store chain Rite Aid promised it would top selling greeting cards with problematic images of chimpanzees, which the company said were sourced from American Greetings.

Chimpanzee, Eli, who was previously used in entertainment and now receives lifelong care alongside other chimpanzees at Lincoln Park  Zoo

“The news that CVS has ceased to sell these products is one more sign that we, as a society, are becoming increasingly aware of the fact that chimpanzee populations are in need of our help,” Ross said. “Small changes in consumer behavior can have a significant impact on wild populations. Whether it’s buying Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood products or rejecting media that inaccurately portray ape species, consumers can and do influence the future for these endangered species.”