Chimps in Entertainment

Chimpanzees who are exploited for human entertainment (television, movies, circuses, commercials, etc.) have been taken from their mothers at an early age. They are then forced to behave in ways that are not natural and are sometimes painful.  Chimpanzee entertainers may be beaten, shocked, drugged or have their teeth pulled out to make them behave.  Once primates reach adolescence, they are discarded, because they have grown too large to manage.

 Most people don’t realize that the chimpanzee grin people find so amusing and cute in movies and commercials is actually an expression of fear.

In addition to the negative impact on the chimpanzees’ welfare, the use of chimpanzees in entertainment has another serious consequence.  When people see chimpanzees in the media, dressed up in clothes or made to look silly, they mistakenly assume that chimpanzees are common and not an endangered species like other great apes.  This may negatively impact conservation efforts to help chimpanzees in the wild avoid extinction.

Chimp Haven is home to several chimpanzees that were formerly used in the entertainment industry. Please consider making a donation so that Chimp Haven can rescue more entertainment chimpanzees like John.


 Meet John!

John is a 44 year old male chimpanzee who was born in Africa in the late 1960’s.  He was brought to the United States to be used as a performer in rodeos. Like many chimpanzees in the entertainment industry, John experienced heartbreaking tragedy. During his time on the rodeo circuit, he fell out of a tree, leaving him with a permanently malformed face and blindness in one eye. In 1991, John was transferred to a biomedical research facility, probably after becoming too difficult for his owner to handle.  After years in entertainment and research, John finally came to Chimp Haven in 2006. After John arrived at Chimp Haven, he met and helped a chimpanzee named Paul. Paul had recently lost his best friend and was depressed.  John cheered Paul up with play invitations and grooming. John still lives with Paul. For fun, John likes to look at cowboys and horses in magazines and will sometimes scrape one of his back legs as if he is imitating a bull getting ready to charge. He was probably trained to perform this behavior while in the rodeo.  John also likes to make nests and rest high in his hammock in the evenings.  Unfortunately, John now suffers from kidney issues and is currently being treated with supplements by our veterinary staff.