Super Bowl advert under fire for using chimps as actors

Posted on February 1, 2012


It’s Super Bowl time so that must mean we’re in for yet another bout of controversy.

Justin Timberlake after tearing off part of Janet Jackson's clothes during their performance in half time.

What is it with this event that makes people taking part make the biggest faux pas?

We’ve had Boob-gate in 2004 when Justin Trouser-snake, exposed a nipple shield that Janet Jackson was wearing during the half-time entertainment.

Then there was Anthem-gate when Christina Aguilera fluffed a line of the Star-Spangled Banner. The bottle blonde belted out her own version of a line in the US national anthem when she opened last year’s Super Bowl in Texas.

The singer should have sung: “O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?” She later said she got caught up in the moment. WHATEVER!

This year the row is over an advert which will run during the game between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5th.

Some half-wit decided it would be appropriate to use live chimps dressed as actors to take part in the advert.

Scientists at the Lincoln Park Zoo and indeed anyone with a modicum of intelligence would agree, there is nothing funny about the ad and it exploits the animals.

The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched programmes in US television. Last year it pulled an audience of 106.5million!! Surely the messages sent out to the public should be more carefully considered?

The ad shows an executive chimpanzee and will air during the Super Bowl

Dr. Steve Ross, from the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Center for the Conservation of Apes, said: “If people see the chimpanzees that way they are less likely to try to conserve them.”

The local company who has made adverts using chimps in the past, said it had an animal welfare expert on hand during the filming to monitor the chimps’ care, which Ross said he does not doubt.

Dr Ross added: “Research has shown that chimpanzees in entertainment suffer from the experience and aren’t cared for properly. The problem is how the chimps are trained and taken care of the rest of the year when they aren’t actively filming. Individual chimps are being harmed and wild populations are being harmed by this frivolous use of an endangered species.”

A long-term study carried out by Dr Ross and lead author, Dr  Brian Hare, an assistant professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University suggests that commercialised chimps dressed as people – even when running up big banana daiquiri bar tabs – makes viewers less concerned about the plight of wild chimps.

Dr Hare is concerned that this sort of advert will further encourage poachers in Africa to fuel the illegal pet-trade for these endangered apes: “This advertisement teaches them there is a market for these animals, that there are some crazy people in America and Europe who would want them as pets,” he said. “Even if there isn’t a market, they think there’s a market.”

This is an advert that was made by last year.

Chimpanzees can be kept legally as pets in the  United States, which is just ludicrous. They are wild animals and once they reach sexual maturity there is no way anyone can predict how they will behave. They are highly social primates so by yanking an infant away from its family group (which usually involves slaughtering at least ten of them) it will be traumatised. Chimps are incredibly strong and are very aggressive. In 2009 a chimpanzee attacked a woman from Connecticut woman, ripping off her nose, lips, eyelids and hands. It was then shot dead by police.

I honestly thought we’d moved on from the 1980’s when using chimps in adverts was considered PC. Sadly this is still not the case some parts of the western world. declined to comment on the study or any suggestion that the commercials put wild chimpanzees in danger.