- Wild Future insists primates should not be used in the entertainment industry
- Video for Feels is latest to feature a black capuchin monkey as an ‘actor’
- Primates have appeared in Wolf Of Wall Street and Pirates of the Caribbean
- Removing primates from social group causes long-lasting impact
A leading primate welfare charity has called on Katy Perry to pull the video for her latest track, which features a black-capped capuchin monkey as an ‘actor’.
Wild Futures, which runs The Monkey Sanctuary based in Looe Cornwall, insists that using primates in the entertainment industry is both detrimental to both animal welfare and public attitudes to animals.
The charity has sent an open letter to Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, and Big Sean about their music video Feels, which has been viewed more than 89 million times on YouTube, asking them to pull it.
While the animals may not appear to be suffering, they have likely been removed from their social group, causing ‘long-lasting negative psychological and physiological effects’.
Additionally, seeing primates acting in films and music videos may fuel the pet trade and diminish the concern for conservation in the wild, by reinforcing the idea that they can live alongside humans and be taught tricks.
‘All of the artists in the Feels video are extremely influential, and they should think carefully about using primates in this way,’ Wild Futures campaign officer Sarah Hanson told FEMAIL. ‘They could use their status in a much more positive way.’
MailOnline has contacted a representative for Sony for further comment.
Sarah explained that most primate actors we see in music videos or films, are most likely specifically bred for either the pet or entertainment trade – and this is inherently detrimental.
A leading primate welfare charity has criticised the music video for Katy Perry, Calvin Harris and Pharrell Williams son Feels for featuring a black capuchin monkey as an ‘actor’
Pirates Of The Caribbean character Jack the monkey, has been portrayed by four different capuchins
‘Primates are long-lived, intelligent, socially complex animals,’ Sarah explained.
‘They engage in imaginative problem solving, form intricate social relationships and display complex patterns of behaviour.
‘Being social is a striking feature of primates, and perhaps the most important in terms of meeting their needs. With few exceptions, they live in complex societies that can comprise tens of individual animals.
‘In relation to their total life history, primates have long infant and juvenile phases, with social independence occurring long after nutritional weaning.
‘This period is crucial for learning about the physical and social environment, and about parenting, for survival and reproduction.
Eco activist Leonardo Di Caprio toted a chimp dressed in human clothing in his hit film The Wolf Of Wall Street
Dressed up chimps featured in the video for Fall Out Boy’s Thnks fr th Mmrs
‘It is highly likely that primates have an awareness of pain, suffering and distress similar to us and, at least in some species, an ability to think and reflect on these things. Such abilities could enhance their capacity for suffering.
‘Primates used for entertainment and in the media are often removed from their social group and hand-reared, causing distress to the infant, mother and other members of the group.
‘Curtailing the period in which young primates are dependent on their mothers is known to have profound and long-lasting negative psychological and physiological effects. Hand rearing by humans does not make up for this loss, and is associated with a range of welfare issues.
‘The effect of the trade and entertainment industry on individuals is witnessed by us every day at the Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary.
Steven Tyler’s video for (It) Feels So Good features a chimp driving a cart across a film set
‘Every monkey at the Sanctuary arrives with physical and or psychological damage, be it metabolic bone disease, diabetes, pacing, comfort eating or self-harming.’
Even if the primate has been born in captivity, it does not negate the stress the animal feels if it’s brought up in a different habitat to the one for which it evolved.
‘Those who work in the industry claim that no cruelty is involved in the training of primate actors,’ Sarah explained.
‘But, the fact that in order to be trained for such purposes, primates are likely to be removed from their social groups, subjected to frequent and sometimes extended transport, which is known to be highly stressful to primates, and denied the opportunity to express natural behaviour in a suitable environment, are all issues indicative of cruel treatment.
One Direction previously came under fire for featuring a chimp actor in the video for Steal My Girl
‘When these needs are not met, the individuals suffer. The on-set supervision of a vet and absence of obvious physical abuse does not mitigate the “backstage” suffering.
‘The primates are trained to perform unnatural behaviours and are deprived of normal and natural social lives with their families and other monkeys.’
As well as causing suffering to the primate, seeing them dressed up for entertainment can negatively influence public attitudes.
‘The use of primates as actors or entertainers may directly influence the audience, reinforcing the idea that primates can live alongside humans, be dressed up like dolls and can be taught tricks to amuse us,’ Sarah said.
A chimp in the video forFall Out Boy’s Thnks fr th Mmrs. Seeing primates dressed up makes people increasingly likely to view them as playthings, according to activists
Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik with a ‘chimp’ actor on the set of Steal My Girl
‘This sets back the work of organisations such as ours who have been trying to end such practices for years.
‘Every time a primate is used as an actor or entertainer, there appears to be a rise in demand from potential pet owners who want to take a monkey home. This in turn boosts the pet trade in exotic animals and is a direct blow to the welfare and conservation work across the world.’
Sarah points out that developments in CGI mean that it’s hardly necessary to use a real animal anymore, but it still comes with issues.
‘Of course we much prefer the use of CGI to using a real animal,’ Sarah said. ‘But the irony is that CGI has advanced so much and is so realistic that we are now concerned that the message to the viewer is similar – that non-human primates, monkey and apes, can live in a domestic human environment.