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Ape Advocate Cries Foul Over Super Bowl Simians


24 February 2009 Science News
Ape Advocate Cries Foul Over Super Bowl Simians

What do chimpanzees and motor oil have in common? If you said nothing, you probably missed Super Bowl 43, when these otherwise
incongruent entities shared the screen in a 30-second commercial for Castrol Edge.

In the spot (titled "Grease Monkeys" despite the fact that its simian stars are not monkeys but apes), a slacker lounges in his garage as
chimpanzee "mechanics" work on his car. Crowned with an oil filter, the man tells his neighbor that the chimps have made him their king.
The half-minute commercial may have generated a few laughs, and somehow even spiked motor oil sales, but the price paid by the animal
actors isn't worth it, according to Patti Ragan, founder of the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Florida.

Ragan's facility is home to 42 chimpanzees and orangutans, many of whom are retired from show business. Some starred in previous Super Bowl
commercials, including popular spots for E-Trade and CareerBuilder.com. It's because she is caring for these former Super Bowl stars that Ragan
was troubled by the new Castrol spot.

"Having animals that have appeared in Super Bowl commercials before, and knowing what the issues are, it made me very sad to see those chimps, and to see that we haven't moved beyond that," Ragan said in a phone interview. "People don't think about what happens to these animals after they appear in these commercials. They don't know that we're sacrificing an endangered animal's future to make money for a company selling a product."

The use of apes in entertainment is nothing new (just ask Bonzo), but thanks to recent campaigns by Jane Goodall and other primatologists, we now know the problems inherent in the practice. On her website, Goodall points out that performing primates are separated from their mothers as infants and discarded by the time they reach puberty. Since chimpanzees live 50 to 60 years in captivity, that means these hirsute has-beens will require decades of costly care after the end of their short show-biz careers.

To see the full story please visit: http://ewerl.com/i0U8pU

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