Does the use of chimps in movies distort the conservation message?
Lots of people mistake bonobos for chimpanzees, despite the fact that they’re really two different species. But that people are familiar with chimpanzees in the first place is actually somewhat remarkable, given how rare these primates truly are. TheIUCN’s most recent estimate (in 2003) for the global population of wild chimpanzees is only 172,700 to 299,700 individuals. Indeed, all African countries in which chimpanzees reside have laws against their capture and trade as food or as pets. It should be somewhat surprising, then, that its actually legal for individuals or businesses in the United States to purchase and own chimpanzees as pets, for use in entertainment, and for biomedical research. The question of chimpanzee use for biomedical research is fraught, but the irresponsibility of using chimpanzees in movies and commercials seems fairly straightforward. But not everyone seems to agree – they would argue that it is chimpanzees’ appearance in mainstream media that has actually allowed for the increased public awareness of the existence of chimpanzees.
Please see the rest of the blog here
For more information:
Read the open-access paper in PLoS ONE
See the specific videos used in this study here.
Chimps Are Not Pets, a website by Dr. Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods
The Jane Goodall Institute
My review of an excellent book, Bonobo Handshake
Extinction Countdown: Should Captive-Bred Chimpanzees Have Full Endangered Species Act Protection?
“Use of ‘entertainment’ chimpanzees in commercials distorts public perception regarding their conservation status,” Kara K. Schroepfer, Alexandra G. Rosati, Tanya Chartrand & Brian Hare. PLoS ONE, Oct. 12, 2011. 10.1371/journal.pone.0026048