Zoo Asks That Chimpanzees Not Be Shown in Super Bowl Commercials
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org


Marc Bekoff
February 2012

The misrepresentation of chimpanzees by dressing them up as if they're human beings, for example, can harm them because people don't see them as being imperiled or endangered. Now, the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, is asking CareerBuilder.com not to run a Super Bowl commercial that misrepresent chimpanzees. The commercial shows "mischievous suit-and-tie wearing chimpanzees playing tricks on their human co-worker ..."

The request is stronger than previous ones because it's known from research performed at Duke University that "Commercialized chimps dressed as people -- even when running up big banana daiquiri bar tabs -- makes viewers less concerned about the plight of wild chimps." Other research projects support this finding.

In response to the request to pull the commercial, CareerBuilder.com claimed the chimpanzees were not harmed in the making of the commercial. However, this is not the point of the request to remove it. Rather, the concern is that tens of millions of viewers will take away the wrong message that chimpanzees are doing fine and that it's okay to use them in this way. There's also concern that people will think that chimpanzees make good pets. They don't!

It's also known that the commercials using chimpanzees aren't all that effective despite what CareerBuilder.com claims. "Contrary to Careerbuilder.com's suggestion that the commercials helped their business, [Brian] Hare [of Duke University, one of the researchers involved in the study mentioned above] said people who watched the commercials reported that they found commercials with chimpanzees less interesting than those that featured athletes, music and other things."


Marc Bekoff is a former professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, a Fellow of the Animal
Behavior Society, and a former Guggenheim Fellow. In 2000 Marc and Jane Goodall co‐founded Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and in 2009 Marc was presented with the Saint Francis of Assisi Award by the New Zealand SPCA. Marc has published numerous scientific and popular essays and twenty‐two books including The Emotional Lives of Animals, Animals Matter, Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals, The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding Our Compassion Footprint, and the Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare. His websites are marcbekoff.com and, with Jane Goodall, Ethologicalethics.org.

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