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August 20, 2009

Humane Society International Applauds European Commission Decision to Stop Anti-Smoking Monkey Advert

Humane Society International/UK

Following a complaint by Humane Society International, the European Commission has decided within the last few days to withdraw an EU-funded anti-smoking TV advertisement. 

The advert in question, broadcast throughout the European Union, featured a woman in a park with a collared monkey sitting on her shoulder. When she attempts to smoke, the monkey grabs the packet and rips it to shreds.

HSI argued that this advertisement was both highly irresponsible and incompatible with EU animal protection policy. Moreover, the advert suggested that the EU condones the use of exotic animals as pets, thus undermining existing efforts to stamp out the cruel exotic pet trade.

In his response, the European Commission's Health & Consumer Protection Directorate-General acknowledged that animal protection, and the illegal pet trade in particular, was an important concern at the European Commission and has consequently pulled the offending advertisement.

"We are pleased that the Commission has pulled this advert. The trade in non-domesticated exotic animals, such as primates, is currently a major animal welfare problem within the EU," said Mark Glover, director Humane Society International/UK.

"The trade can have far-reaching consequences for the wild populations from which these animals are obtained at an early age. The young animals are primarily destined for the illegal pet trade and will generally go on to lead miserable lives in captivity. Whether taken from the wild or born in captivity, primates are totally unsuitable for being kept as pets."

Animal welfare organisations throughout Europe are working to end the trade in non-domesticated exotic species not just as pets, but also for the entertainment industry. Awareness campaigns educate the public, particularly young people, with regard to the unsuitability of keeping exotic animals, such as monkeys, as pets.

Barbary macaques, a species similar to the monkey exploited in the EU-funded advert, are the most common victims of the illegal trade in exotic pets in Europe. Young Barbary macaques are smuggled from Morocco to Europe on a relatively large scale. The trade in these animals is so extensive that it has threatened the very survival of the species in their native Atlas Mountain habitat. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has consequently classified the Barbary macaque as endangered in its Red List.

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Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations — backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — On the Web at hsi.org

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