ForeverWild: Pause before posting
Written By: ForeverWild Campaign, JGI Global
Category: Great Apes
Last year, Dr. Jane Goodall and the Jane Goodall Institute weighed in on a viral video depicting a young chimpanzee scrolling through a cellphone. Some people find videos like this one captivating as they demonstrate the remarkable intelligence and behaviour of chimps – what most viewers don’t realize is how inappropriate and traumatic it is to treat wild animals in this way.
Unfortunately, portrayals of chimpanzees and other great apes in domestic environments, wearing clothes, performing human-like activities or in close proximity or interacting with people who are not experts are easily found online and across social media platforms. This content misleads people to wrongly believe these species could be safe to interact with, or suited to such environments, and people stop perceiving them as endangered wildlife. These false impressions not only hurt wild species by normalizing appalling captive care, they create health risks for both wildlife and humans. By promoting these depictions as cute or fun, they boost the illegal poaching and trafficking of infant and juvenile apes, with potentially devastating consequences for wild populations.
Through our ForeverWild campaign, we hope to use the power of social media and digital communications to increase understanding of chimpanzees and other primates, promote best practices in captive care and help protect species in the wild. If you’re an animal lover, extend your love online and share wildlife imagery with care, here’s how:
Chimpanzees are NOT pets
Sharing content of great apes kept as pets, wearing human clothing, or in a human environment the extremely dangerous idea that chimpanzees make cute “pets”.
Wild-caught chimpanzees kept captive in private homes suffer miserable lives. Their basic needs are ignored, they are often restrained, especially as they grow older and stronger, and in attempts at control they may be punished and mutilated. Prematurely separating an infant from its mother leads to long-term social and psychological damage. Sadly, many trafficked infants never recover from their capture and the loss of their mother and may not survive to maturity.
Humans should NEVER closely interact with chimpanzees and other great apes
Images of close interaction between humans and chimpanzees promote the idea that any person can handle chimpanzees and other wildlife. This is very untrue and very dangerous, as humans and chimpanzees are so biologically similar, we can spread disease to one another very easily.
Professional caregivers, veterinarians and other wildlife experts have the specific skills and knowledge of how to treat
Chimpanzees are NOT performers or photo props
Animals intended for performance typically start training as infants, using harsh methods while kept in isolation. This separation, cruelty and neglect usually leads to long-term social and psychological damage. Once apes reach maturity they may no longer be controllable but they cannot be safely released. They may become chronically isolated, suffer mental illness or become very aggressive.
One more thing, chimpanzees don’t smile to indicate happiness – what may look like a human grin is in fact a stress-related grimace.
The Jane Goodall Institute does not endorse handling, interacting or close proximity to chimpanzees or other wildlife. All images here are used to illustrate how not to treat wild animals.