Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

My Mate

Posted: 2 June 2005

Animal Defenders International (ADI), the campaigning organisation for animal protection, will today launch a new drive, ‘My Mate’s a Primate’, for action to save primates from extinction. Chimpanzee numbers have dwindled from around 2 million at the beginning of the last century in 25 countries in West and Central Africa, to barely 150,000 today in 4 countries. The Launch takes place at the Flett Theatre, Natural History Museum, at 10.30am on Thursday, 2nd June 2005, when the banned TV launch ad and campaign video will be shown.

At the launch, ADI will be raising awareness of the crisis facing other primates with whom we share our planet, with a new hard-hitting report that calls for action against primates being used for bushmeat, entertainment (films, TV, advertising, circuses, zoos), laboratory experiments and in the pet trade.

Comedian and TV star, Alexei Sayle, who will be present to lend his support to the campaign, said: “I abhor all cruelty to animals but ill-treatment of primates fills me with a special horror. They are so obviously related to us that we can be in no doubt that they can know fear, pain and suffering."

World-renowned primatologists, Professor Roger Fouts and his wife, Deborah, who pioneered teaching chimpanzees to use sign language in the late 60s, will also be at the launch.

THE REPORT covers:
Bushmeat, wild animal meat, now poses the greatest threat to the existence of apes in the wild and to their habitat. Hunters are killing 6,000 western lowland gorillas, 15,000 chimpanzees and 7.5 million colobus monkeys for food each year.

Entertainment using primates is exploitation on show, whereby apes and monkeys are enslaved, chained and caged to make them perform for the camera, in shows and circuses. The chimpanzee’s smile, which you so often see in films, advertising or circuses, is actually a grimace of fear.

Experiments using animals, scientific reports have shown, produce misleading results and can actually hold up scientific progress. They are flawed because of the anatomical and physiological differences between species. The UK, with 4,799 primate experiments in 2003, is Europe’s largest user of laboratory monkeys. Globally an estimated 1.7 million primates are used in experiments each year.

The ‘exotic’ pet trade in rare and exotic animals has become a huge global business, valued at $12 billion a year. Europe is one of the world’s largest markets for wildlife and wildlife products, with demand for pets, fashion accessories, ornaments and medicines. Smuggling wildlife, including many endangered species, is now the third largest illegal cross-border activity after the arms and drug trades. Poachers are stealing an estimated 38 million animals a year from Brazil’s Amazon forests.

The campaign draws attention to the way we are encroaching on more and more of the planet. We consume, pollute, destroy - not only animals such as
primates, but also their habitat. Our actions are having a devastating effect on our environment as the ‘empty forest’ syndrome in parts of Africa bears witness.

Primates are primarily found in tropical rainforests and play an important part in the ecosystem helping to disperse seeds and pollinate plants. To meet the demands of the global trade in endangered species nearly 40,000 primates are taken out of their habitat. Their removal upsets the balance of nature and presents a major threat to the environment.

Chimpanzees are our closest relatives and share 98% of human genes. As studies have shown, they have personalities and the ability to express
emotions such as happiness, compassion, sadness, affection and anger. They are so intelligent they have been taught to communicate in human sign language.

How You Can Help: http://www.mymatesaprimate.org

  • Support conservation, don’t buy primates as pets and ask your friends to do the same.
  • Don’t eat ‘exotic’ meats at restaurants, and tell the owner you don’t approve of eating wildlife.
  • Use recycled paper to sustain our forests and ask your friends to do the same.
  • Make sure that the wood in garden furniture and in other similar products is from a sustainable source and not from the rainforest.

Reference:
The campaign TV ad has been refused being shown on TV stations by the BACC.

-ENDS-
NOTES FOR EDITORS:

Prof Roger Fouts and Deborah Fouts
Roger and Deborah Fouts are co-directors of the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute at Central Washington University. In addition, Roger is a Professor of Psychology. The Foutses have been a part of Project Washoe since 1967. Washoe was the very first nonhuman animal to acquire a human language, American Sign Language for the Deaf (ASL). The project now focuses on five sign language-using chimpanzees, who live together as a social group: Washoe, Moja, Tatu, Dar and Loulis and use the signs of ASL in their interactions with humans and with each other.

CELEBRITIES SUPPORT MY MATE’S A PRIMATE
"The time has come for drastic action to save primates from their cruel fate. ‘My Mate’s a Primate’ needs our full support to champion the cause of these defenseless ‘cousins’ of ours and preserve the environment before it’s too late."
Jenny Seagrove, actress.

"My Mate’s a Primate gives us a real chance to educate ourselves to change the world to save primates from extinction. They share our planet and as our nearest relatives in the animal kingdom, they deserve our respect and protection. Apart from anything, their plight and brutal removal from their habitat affects our whole ecosystem and ultimately, our survival. We hurt them and we hurt ourselves."
Helen Chamberlain, TV sports presenter.

"The pain and suffering we are capable of inflicting upon our fellow creatures makes one feel ashamed to be part of the human race! I find the use of primates in zoos, circuses and research laboratories absolutely sickening and urge everyone to support this vital Animal Defenders International’s campaign to bring about a better future for our wonderful ‘mates’."
Wendy Turner Webster, ‘Pet Rescue’ TV presenter.

"I give my wholehearted support to Animal Defenders International’s campaign, which highlights the appalling cruelty meted out in so many different ways to these wonderful animals, which are so closely-related to man. When will we learn that we must share what’s left of this planet with our fellow creatures."
Celia Hammond, founder of Celia Hammond Animal Trust (C.H.A.T.) and animal welfare campaigner.

"I’m a primate. Let’s get together and protect my family."
Benjamin Zephaniah, poet and author.

"My mate’s a primate is yet another potent and imaginative campaign from Animal Defenders International helping to highlight the plight of some of our primate relatives. I fully endorse the campaign and all the work they do. Keep it up guys. The world’s wildlife would be at even greater risk without you".
Mark Radcliffe, BBC Radio 2 Presenter of the Mark Radcliffe Show.

"I’d like to wish Animal Defenders International the best of luck with their new campaign. Protecting primates from abuse and the very real danger of extinction is a cause that deserves support and attention from the media and public alike."
Jamiroquai - Jay Kay, singer songwriter popstar.

ADI RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTION:

Bushmeat
1. An international levy for companies continuing to extract materials from the forest to set up agriculture for local communities, educational programmes about diet and sustainable use of their resources.
2. Organisations such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, should fully involve environmental groups and conservationists in discussions on all proposed projects in sensitive areas, before decisions are made.
3. Restrictions, even prohibitions, on logging and road building in certain areas; information for local communities about the link between such activity, ecological protection, and food security for future generations.

Entertainment
1. Training primates for any kind of performance should be prohibited. This would not prevent the filming of captive animals performing natural behaviours or enhanced by the use of computer-generated special effects.
2. The use of force during training should be banned.
3. The use of primates in travelling shows and circuses should be banned.
4. All captive primates should be micro chipped and passport-style identification papers should be introduced to track the movement of the animals around the globe - to include parentage, ownership details, CITES documentation, and record of movements. Failure to match documentation to a unique microchip number should be grounds for confiscation.

Pets
1. UK government should ban the import and sale of primates for the pet trade, in light of the inevitable suffering involved in the capture, transport and social isolation of these animals, the damage caused to wild populations by the trade and the risk to human health from unknown monkey viruses.
2. The current review of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 should include provision for a national licensing of all privately-owned primates which would set standards of welfare and environmental enrichment, and make provision for removal of animals being kept in unsuitable conditions.
3. A working group is established to set up an equitable and workable system for dealing with the offspring of privately owned primates.

Primates for Research
1. A moratorium on the import of primates for research, pending a full and open investigation of the use of primates in research and the alternative techniques available, with a view to devising a strategy to replace the use of primates in research and testing at an early date.
2. In the UK, conditions should be attached to licences to use primates to the effect that applicants are obliged to contribute to an international database of primate research and testing, in order to share data and avoid duplication of experiments. This database should involve input from all stakeholders, non-governmental organisations, government agencies, pharmaceutical industry and others.
3. Pharmaceutical companies should be encouraged to share data on primate testing and the alternatives, perhaps by means of incentives.
4. The UK government should press for international registration, micro chipping and passport-style system of control over captive-bred primates, to ensure that animals do not continue to be taken from the wild.
5. Stricter checks should be made of foreign primate suppliers and Home Office reports on visits to foreign suppliers should be published on the Internet.
6. These steps should be seen as swift moves towards the prohibition of experiments on primates.

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