Monday, August 05, 2002

These newspapers gave chimp pimps free publicity.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR ON CHIMP PIMPS

Shame, shame!

SHAME ON YOU for promoting Amazing Animal Actors ("Talking with the animals," June 28).

These chimpanzee babies belong with their mothers, not with a chimp pimp renting them for $200 an hour. Chimpanzees have long childhoods, like us; in the wild they are not weaned until about 5 years old and stay near mother until about 9.

Chimpanzees are not furry little humans, and must not be treated like animated toys for human amusement. What will really happen to these youngsters when they are no longer cute and cuddly? Raised away from chimpanzee society, they have not learned to act like chimpanzees, and no reputable zoo will take such misfits.

Sadly, when chimpanzee children have grown too big and strong to be easily controlled, they are typically sold into biomedical research or to ramshackle roadside zoos, or are forced to breed a new generation of performers. Chimpanzees can live to be 60 years old, but entertainers are usually discarded before they reach 8.

Because chimpanzees are just like us in all the ways that matter, it is wrong to use them for amusement. Shame on your newspaper for giving free advertising to a chimp pimp.

Cyn Krueger
Stop Experimentation on & Exploitation of Chimpanzees (SEEC), Mercer Island, Wash.

'Pay to play' chimp program is the problem
Re: A chimp play date, story, July 5.

On behalf of the Chimpanzee Collaboratory, I would like to point out that your July 5 article on Gini Valbuena's "pay to play" chimpanzee program in Clearwater omitted a few important details.

We are a group of scientists, public policy experts and attorneys that includes world-renowned primatologist and advocate Jane Goodall. We are dedicated to improving the lives of chimpanzees and other great apes. Programs such as Valbuena's are exactly what we are trying to protect chimpanzees and other great apes from.

Captive chimpanzees in this type of situation are usually taken from their mothers at infancy and are denied the opportunity to grow up in a normal chimpanzee family. Later in life, they become too strong for a "hands-on" approach by even the most caring human guardian.

Chimpanzees are extremely social beings, but they become so humanized when raised in this manner that, once placed in a sanctuary with other chimpanzees, they do not know how to interact and they suffer horribly from social isolation. Those are the lucky ones. More often than not, chimpanzees used in entertainment end up being sold to biomedical laboratories or roadside zoos, where they may remain for decades.

Readers who wish to learn about the true nature of chimpanzees and their plight can contact the Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care in Boynton Beach (www.savethechimps.org). This sanctuary, run by Chimpanzee Collaboratory member Dr. Carole Noon, is home to chimpanzees who previously lived in an Air Force laboratory. She also provides sanctuary for chimpanzees who were orphaned by their owners, who initially kept them as pets but were no longer able to take care of them.

Noon provides true sanctuary for these individuals and allows them to be who they are - chimpanzees, not props for our entertainment.

Liz Clancy Lyons,
The Chimpanzee Collaboratory, Washington, D.C.