For the past few months, Iâ€™ve been working on broadening our advocacy program, Primate Patrol, which currently focuses on the use of chimpanzees in entertainment. Our goal is to be a good resource for information about all chimpanzee issues, and to provide ways for you to take action and help. Stay tuned in the coming months for lots of great new stuff!
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Now that Iâ€™ve introduced our plans for expansion, Iâ€™ll start what will be a regular blog entry: Take Action Tuesday. Every week, I will post advocacy related news and ways you can help.
This weekâ€™s topic is about roadside zoos and pseudo-sanctuaries, often a dumping ground for ex-pet or ex-entertainment chimps. This video on Facebook shows two chimps, Rocky and Kelby, who were both used in entertainment. Kelby was in movies such as Babe, Pig in the City and Buddy. Rocky was once owned by former chimp trainer Sid Yost. As you can see in the video, the cages are small and dirty.
Rocky and Kelby have lived in a number of different facilities. These two are currently living at Suncoast Primate Sanctuary (AKA Chimp Farm) â€“ a substandard roadside zoo that puts its residents on display.
Suncoast Primate Sanctuary is also home to at least one infant chimpanzee. Many roadside zoos breed animals and advertise the babies as attractions. Facilities that breed their animals are perpetuating the sad cycle of captivity. The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.) is another pseudo-sanctuary, home to the orangutan Suryia (who was used in a commercial). The Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary, run by the last remaining circus trainers (the Rosaire-Zoppes) is home to Ricky the chimpanzee (featured on a book cover). All of these facilities breed their exotic animals and continue to exploit them for entertainment purposes. Reputable sanctuaries do not intentionally breedâ€”producing babies whose fate is a lifetime of confinement is simply wrong.
What can you do to help chimps in roadside zoos? Speak up for these exploited animals, and spread the word. If a friend sends you a â€œcuteâ€ picture of a baby chimpanzee holding a tiger cub, take a moment to educate them about the truth behind pseudo-sanctuaries that promote those types of photos (See below for a sample message to send to your friends). Do your research before donating to any sanctuary and support rescue organizations that are committed to providing quality lifetime care.
Sample response to â€œcuteâ€ pictures from a pseudo-sanctuary:
Sadly, this picture is not cute and cuddly as it may appear. Portraying these exotic animals as cute and cuddly attractions seriously misinforms people about the true nature of these beings and perpetuates the pet and entertainment industries. Simply put, chimpanzees are not meant for our world and should not be in captivity. Infant chimpanzees should be with their chimpanzee mothers — not tiger cubs, dogs, or humans. Unfortunately, the facilities where these pictures originate are breeding exotic animals, which leads to a lifetime of unwarranted imprisonment for those animals. No respectable sanctuary would intentionally breed, nor would they put their animals on display or exploit them for entertainment purposes.