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Apes in Entertainment - funny or tragic?


20 April 2015 (Mon)
6:30 - 8:00


Winston Theatre, 1st Floor University of Bristol Students' Union Queens Road BS8 1NL


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The use of apes in movies, ads and shows continues to this day despite protests. Our panel including Conservation Biologist Ian Redmond OBE & representatives form the advertising industry will discuss the impact of this as well as why and how this should stop.

See our Apes in Entertainment Working Group page for more information on this subject. 

The Panel

Ian Redmond OBE

Ape Alliance Chairman Ian Redmond is a tropical field biologist and conservationist, renowned for his work with great apes and elephants. For more than 30 years he has been associated with Mountain Gorillas, through research, filming, tourism and conservation work. Ian founded Ape Alliance in 1996 to encourage conservation organisations to work together.

Dr Sharon Redrobe 

CEO, Twycross Zoo Sharon is an internationally renowned wildlife vet with a life-long fascination with chimpanzees, and is a recognised authority and advocate on zoological matters. She is also the director of the European Ape Heart Project, a Trustee of Ape Action Africa (Cameroon), and is a personally appointed member of the Zoos Expert Committee, the UK Governmental advisory body. Sharon is now leading the future growth of Twycross Zoo, as CEO spearheading an ambitious redevelopment programme to unlock its potential as a Centre of Excellence for ape conservation and science.

Dr Jo Setchell

Reader in Anthropology, Durham University; Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Primatology; Vice-President (Research) International Primatological Society


Join the discussion on Facebook 


Ian Redmond shares his take home messages from the evening...

In a nutshell, film and ad makers usually respond to criticism by saying the apes/other wild animals were well treated on the set, but this ignores the pre-filming training (which investigations have repeatedly shown to involve physical punishment) and lifetime care needed once the animal is too big to be tractable. The repercussions of using wild animals such as chimpanzees in advertising and films are on several levels:

Individual level:
Cruelty to the individual getting him or her to perform on cue.
Psychological damage caused by pulling infants from mothers long before natural weaning (loss felt by both mother and infant).
Lifetime of suffering in inadequate care once too old to perform – might last 40-50 years!

Species level:
Surveys reveal that people seeing chimpanzees and orangutans in ads and films find it hard to believe they are endangered species.
Commercialisation of infant apes in films perpetuates the idea that they are worth a lot of money, encouraging captive bred infants to be pulled from their mother, and wild infants to be captured by killing the parents.
It promotes the idea that rich people are cool if they have exotic pets, again presenting a cash lure to poachers or breeders, and causing the suffering involved in the trade.
See Stolen Apes report I co-authored the year before last - for details.

Habitat level:
Primates are keystone species in their habitats, the rainforests of Africa and SE Asia, responsible for dispersing seeds of hundreds of species of trees and other plants. Protecting lemurs, monkeys, apes and their habitat not only protects these endangered species, but maintains forests of global significance. We all benefit from the ecosystem services they provide, e.g. carbon sequestration and storage, rain generation, filtration and protection from erosion, etc.
We must educate people to see apes and elephants as essential components of their forest ecosystem, not objects to be traded and trained for use in shows, films or TV commercials. The health of the planet depends on the forests, and the health of tropical forests depends on the ‘Gardeners of the Forest’ - primates, elephants, birds and bats dispersing the seeds that will grow into the trees of tomorrow.

More info at (which we urge actors, advertising agencies and film-makers to sign) and

This event is free to attend but donations are welcome to support our work. Please book your place by filling in your email address below, your email confirmation acts as your ticket.

Registrations are now closed


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