Levi Strauss stop using great apes in ads

5 May 2009 Science News

Company Sets New Policy After PETA Appeal

For Immediate Release:
May 5, 2009  

Contact:Kristie Phelps 757-622-7382   San Francisco --

After learning from PETA about the abuse that chimpanzees and orangutans who are used in advertising endure as part of their behind-the-scenes training, San Francisco-based clothing giants Levi Strauss & Co. and Gap Inc. have pledged never to use great apes in their ads again, and Levi Strauss has also extended the pledge to cover any other endangered animals. In 2008, Levi Strauss created a viral video that featured a live orangutan, and Gap Inc. used Travis--the chimpanzee who recently attacked and severely maimed a Connecticut woman--in an Old Navy ad.   Eyewitnesses--including a primatologist who spent 14 months working in a California facility--have said that trainers beat and kick willful young apes and sometimes use electric prods to force them to sit still under hot studio lights for hours and obey commands that are confusing and meaningless to them. Chimpanzees and orangutans who are used in ads are usually only a few years old. They are separated from their mothers prematurely, which causes severe trauma to both the mothers and babies. When they reach adolescence at around 8 years old, they become too powerful to control and are often discarded at roadside zoos or sent to cheap traveling shows.   Levi Strauss and Gap Inc. join Subaru, Honda, Keds, PUMA, Young & Rubicam (the fourth-largest ad agency in the U.S. by revenue), Yahoo!, SEGA, the Ad Council, and other companies and organizations that have pledged not to use great apes in ads. As a token of its appreciation, PETA sent Levi Strauss vegan-chocolate great apes.   "Chimpanzee and orangutan infants, like human babies, deserve to be safe with their mothers, not beaten behind the scenes or sitting alone and scared on a set somewhere," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "By recognizing that these animals need protection, not exploitation, Levi Strauss and Gap Inc. will help PETA end cruelty in advertising."


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