Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

Open letter to D&G - stop using chimps

Posted: 6 June 2005

Dear Sir or Madam,

Animal Defenders International is an animal protection group with offices in London UK and Boston USA. We have particular expertise in the use of animals in the entertainment industry and are therefore horrified that Seiko and Dolce & Gabbana have collaborated to produce an advert using a chimpanzee.

We have shown the advert to two Directors of the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute at Central Washington University, who have
commented: “You can see from this photograph that this is a really unhappy chimp.”
Chimpanzees in particular suffer greatly in the entertainment industry - whether this is with traveling circuses or with suppliers of animals for the TV and movie industry. There is an inevitable level of coercion, deprivation, confinement, and lack of appropriate access to their own species.

In the UK, the largest supplier of chimpanzees for television, advertising, and films was Mary Chipperfield Promotions (MCP Ltd). Field Officers from ADI worked on the premises for several months filming and documenting what they saw. When our findings were revealed, the public were horrified at the appalling conditions in which the five chimpanzees lived. Worse still, a young chimpanzee, named Trudy, being prepared for television and cute promotional appearances was, behind the scenes, thrashed and kicked by her trainer Mary Chipperfield. As a result of the ADI investigation Trudy was placed in a sanctuary and Mary Chipperfield was convicted on 13 counts of cruelty. Another Director of the company and a member of staff were both convicted of cruelty to elephants. Mary Chipperfield fled the UK and set up in Spain.

It is important to note that throughout her prosecution Mary Chipperfield claimed that this was how chimpanzees had to be controlled and she did not regret what she had done. No chimpanzee trainers spoke out against her, indeed another former chimpanzee trainer appeared as a defence witness on her behalf.

We are happy to supply video footage of chimpanzee training. This shows, abuse rarely takes place on set, instead it goes on behind the scenes, therefore any on set reassurances you may have received will be worthless.

The great apes ­ orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos, are intelligent, social mammals and our closest relatives in the animal kingdom.
They live in complex societies in which they show co-operation and compassion within their extended family. Yet performing animal suppliers require regular one on one human contact to ensure close control and obedience during performances. This means that social deprivation and stress are an inevitable consequence of their use as performers.

In order to maintain a supply of trained animals for entertainment, baby animals bred in captivity are often pulled from their mothers and reared in human or other inappropriate surroundings: this deprives the mother of her infant, and deprives the infant of an education in its own species’ culture, leading to abnormal behaviour.

Training captive apes to perform on command requires the trainer to dominate the animals, which frequently involves physical punishment and deprives them of their normal social interactions. Even what may be described as “positive reinforcement” or “reward” training can be a form of abuse for these animals. This is because it means emotionally starving the animals so that they appreciate any affection bestowed as a “reward".

Routine mutilations of animals used to perform alongside people are not uncommon, with lions and tigers declawed and apes having teeth removed. A chimpanzee which ADI recently relocated from a circus had been kept in isolation for some 20 years, had his canine teeth pulled out to prevent him biting, and his body was covered in cigarette burns ­ yet his owner maintained in court he treated the animal as a ‘son’.

In the photograph used in the Seiko/D&G advert, the chimpanzee appears to have had teeth removed, although this could be an illusion due to the way the photograph has been taken. We would be grateful if you could tell us if the animal had all its teeth or if any had been removed.

We are sure that you proceeded with this advert without full knowledge of the industry that you are endorsing. Ironically, it is a disgraced and declining industry that has more to gain from this commercial, than the product you seek to promote.

The past decade has uncovered a large number of problems related to the use of all performing animals (and in particular primates), we would therefore ask that you withdraw this advert and adopt a policy of not using animals in future advertising.

I look forward to hearing from yourselves and D&G.

Yours sincerely

Tim Phillips

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Tim Phillips
Campaigns Director
Animal Defenders International

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