Inappropriate Use and Portrayal of Chimpanzees

14 March 2008 Science News

In North America alone, about 2300 chimpanzees live in a variety of settings from accredited zoological parks to laboratories and sanctuaries. However, in 44 of the 50 states in America, chimpanzees can also be privately owned as pets and/or used as actors and photographer's props in the entertainment and media industry. In movies, television shows, and advertisements, chimpanzees are often depicted as caricatures of humans, dressed in clothes and/or photographed in contrived poses. For example, chimpanzees are portrayed as misbehaving business executives in the popular "Careerbuilder" advertisements. More recently, chimpanzees were shown dressed in hats while reading an issue of Science magazine in a promotional campaign by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (although, it should be noted that the campaign was halted when AAAS was made aware of objections). Such inappropriate portrayals are viewed by millions of people annually and may influence the way in which members of the general public perceive this endangered great ape.

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Ross, S. R., Lukas, K. E., Lonsdorf, E. V., Stoinski, T. S., Hare, B., Shumaker, R. & Goodall, J. (2008). Inappropriate use and portrayal of chimpanzees. Science 319: 1487

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