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August 25, 2009

EU-Funded Monkey Advert Pulled

Humane Society International/Europe

HSI UK has secured the commitment of the European Commission to replace a television advertisement that featured a monkey on a leash.

The trade in non-domesticated exotic animals, including primates, is currently a major animal welfare problem within the European Union and HSI is keen to see an end to the supply of these types of animals for the pet and entertainment industries. Indeed, the illegal pet trade is an important concern of the European Commission.

Collared monkey

HSI was troubled when we were alerted to a EU-funded television advertisement, being broadcast across the European Union, showing a collared monkey sitting on a woman’s shoulder and ripping a cigarette packet out of her hand.

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

This trade can have far-reaching consequences for the wild populations from which these animals are obtained at an early age. Animals involved generally go on to lead miserable lives in captivity.

Whether taken from the wild or born in captivity, primates are totally unsuitable as pets.

Classified as endangered

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 habit. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has consequently classified the Barbary macaque as endangered on its Red List.

HSI was pleased to receive a response from the Commission, reiterating that “animal protection, and in particular illegal pet trade” is “an important concern at the European Commission.” The Commission has now requested that its agency replace the monkey advert.

You can help

  • Do not buy any type of primate as a pet, discourage others from buying one and don’t condone it if they already have one.
  • Oppose the use of primates in entertainment such as movies, commercials, television shows, circuses and the like: Don’t spend money on entertainment or products that exploit primates.
  • Avoid profiteers who use primates as photo props (sometimes found at tourist attractions).
  • Support projects to protect primates in the wild or their habitats.
  • Don't visit roadside type zoos that keep primates in small cages.
  • Don't frequent markets that sell primates as pets or hotels that keep them.
  • Educate others about the plight of primates.
  • Do not buy any type of primate product: bushmeat, hides, limbs, medicine, etc.
  • When buying wood products or products from rainforests and other primate habitat, make sure you seek out companies that use sustainable logging and farming practices. For example, palm oil plantations in Borneo are delving into orangutans’ natural habitat. Palm oil is used in things like soap, processed foods, and personal care products. By checking labels on these products, you can make sure you’re not contributing to the destruction.
  • Sign our Don't Buy Wild Pledge.