Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Use of apes in entertainment & ads can harm conservation efforts

Regular readers of this blog don’t need to be told how wrong it is to use great apes in advertisements or farcical videos (especially “discovering” an orangutan’s attachment to a certain dog, for instance), or in shows. We know that taking young apes from their mothers is bad for them. We know that training apes to perform unnatural acts is wrong. We know that putting entertainment apes under lights, under stressful conditions, is inhumane. But now, thanks to research conducted by Lincoln Park Zoo’s Steve Ross, we know something more.

We now have evidence that using chimpanzees (and orangutans as well, most likely) in advertisements and entertainment can play a huge role in the public misconceptions about the endangerment of great apes in the wild. 

Ross’ newly published study, Specific Image Characteristics Influence Attitudes about Chimpanzee Conservation and Use as Pets, found that people seeing a photograph of a chimpanzee with a human standing nearby were 35.5% more likely to consider wild populations to be stable/healthy, compared to those seeing the exact same picture without a human. Wow, that’s a lot of misconception. A 10% swing in perceptions would be substantial, 20% is big, but 35% is huge!

Wild populations are not stable, nor are they healthy. In fact, chimpanzees have been classified as endangered since 1996.

Please take a few minutes to read the report Specific Image Characteristics Influence Attitudes about Chimpanzee Conservation and Use as Pets, just published in Plos One. Share the article, and help spread the word: Stop using great apes in entertainment and advertising.

-- Dawn @ Chimp Trainer's Daughter
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