Chimpanzee Sit-Ups

From time to time I like to put up a funny primate related piece of media to break the monotony that sometimes is ‘hardcore’ science. Considering, we just had a row of such material, here’s a video that you may enjoy. I for one got a good chuckle out of it.

Though sometimes the animals behind these videos go thru excruciating training regiments (which are sometimes very abusive), I can’t help but love the Japanese for making the most amusing and creative game/comedy shows ever… especially when they involve chimpanzees and bulldogs.

Hat tip to Betsy!

7 thoughts on “Chimpanzee Sit-Ups

  1. Kambiz, I can’t agree. I watched, and didn’t chuckle. I thought of my visit to the people at the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Florida, who provide safe havens for the many apes (too many for them to house all) abused and exploited in the entertainment industry. There I met chimpanzees and orangutans who had been treated very badly emotionally and physically, in the television and film industries, and needed so much care, patience, and love to recover. Is it really possible to know that there’s excruciating treatment and abuse behind a video– and still laugh? Do we scientists– far from a humorless bunch in my opinion–not have a primary responsibility to the public, and even more importantly to the apes, not to further this kind of thing? This stuff is all over YouTube, and that’s bad enough… Perhaps people could spend a few moments looking up the Center for Great Apes, Gorilla Haven, or a comparable, amazingly caring sanctuary instead…. Thanks for listening.

  2. With all due respect, I’m going to have to agree with Barbara. That video isn’t amusing–it’s exploitation. Chimpanzee aren’t short, funny-looking people, and it isn’t appropriate to dress them up and parade them around like they are.

  3. To both Dr. King and Dave, and everyone else, I am sorry if I have offended you by sharing this video.

    As I stated in the post, I know animals used in comedic performances like this are most often abused. I am aware of how the entertainment industry has trained performance animals. Sometimes they detooth chimps, sometimes they pierce bears by the nose, for example. The extent of their abuse is also psychological.

    But we really don’t know the exact story behind this chimpanzee and dog to be jumping to conclusions that they endured abuse to film it. Dr. King raised this point above,

    “Is it really possible to know that there’s excruciating treatment and abuse behind a video– and still laugh?”

    It is likely that short films like this have starred abused animals, but it is also likely that these animals were well treated. Probably sounds naive, but I have seen and meet several animal trainers who do not abuse their animals. I don’t know how animal training practices are carried out in Japan but many modern animal trainers adopt new codes of ethics and morals that differ from older traditional ways of animal training. If this is the case, if animals were not physically nor psychologically abused, I feel like it is okay to laugh. But that’s my personal opinion. So that makes me curious to ask, as scientists and public advocates for animal welfare, do we stand against any sort of animal training or use of animals in entertainment?

    That’s for us to think about and discuss, I hope.

    And about not finding it humorous, I guess I’ve learned that’s all relative to the audience. So this post hasn’t gartered the comedic relief I intended for it… but I feel at least we may agree on when or when it is not ethical to use animals in entertainment.

  4. OK, let me rephrase: Is it really possible to know (to a certainty) that there’s excruciating treatment and abuse of apes in the entertainment industry– and still laugh at this video, a video that a) stars an ape whose treatment during filming is unknown to us AND b) perpetuates the idea that it’s perfectly acceptable to use apes in that same entertainment industry?

    I hope Kambiz, that you are right and this ape was in no way abused; I can’t help but wonder what is ahead for the rest of his/her life, once s/he is no longer so young and controllable….Do we have enough sanctuaries to care for all the apes, those abused plus others treated acceptably but who grow up…. and no longer are either so cute or so tractable, and thus no longer wanted on set?

    Thanks for facilitating this discussion, Kambiz.

  5. No worries, Kambiz. I wasn’t offended. Personally, I’m not against any or all animal training or use of animals in entertainment, but I do disagree with the using any apes for commercials, tv shows, movies, etc.

    Jane Goodall expresses my thoughts on this topic better than I could here.

  6. Dave, I’m curious as to why the cut off at apes? In no way do I mean to come off like a smart alec… but researchers have documented that non-ape primates are social, and psychologically advanced individuals.

    So what’s the speciescriteria for animal use in entertainment?

    I ask because, as with almost any use of animals in human society and culture, there’s a lot of objectivity and opinion regarding treatment. For example, some cultures, say in India, cows are revered beings while here in the USA they aren’t sacred. Therefore, is the ape criteria a construct of our culture?

    Dr. King, you bring up an excellent point that I forgot to even integrate into my comment. I want to state that no amount of ethical animal training is really important if the animal is not insured a happy, healthy future. Currently, I do see the entertainment industry moving away from unethical training regiments but with little focus on what they will do with the animals after they are ‘retired’ from showbiz.

  7. Kambiz,
    My choice to draw the line at apes is, admittedly, somewhat arbitrary (I was actually going to mention this in my earlier post, but neglected to), but not, I think, completely so. Depending on the specifics of what we might be discussing, I wouldn’t be opposed to extending the “cut off” point to encompass non-ape primates (and perhaps some other highly-intelligent and potentially self-aware mammals like elephants and dolphins). Wherever a line is drawn, though, that line will necessarily be somewhat subjective. After all, if we really wanted to, we could pass insect protection laws, but we haven’t and never will. But because apes are our closest relatives, I believe that their ethical and respectful treatment (that was my main beef with the video–not that I believe the chimpanzee is necessarily being physically or mentally abused, but that I feel putting a chimpanzee in that situation is inherently disrespectful) is the bare minimum standard for decency.

    Anyway, that was vague and rambling, and I’m not sure I’ve adequately answered your question, but it’s late, and I’m tired. 🙂

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