Great Ape Trust of Iowa, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Lobby Against Apes in Ads

Researchers at the Great Ape Trust of Iowa and colleagues from major zoos are teaming up to discourage the use of apes in advertisements and entertainment.

Robert Shumaker, director of orangutan research at the Great Ape Trust of Iowa, said that for awhile the use of monkeys in advertisements and entertainment seemed to have died down. He told the Des Moines Register,

It seemed like it was dying down for a while, but now it’s coming back. . . . I think that the commercial use of great apes, whether in entertainment or pet trade or photo ops, is impossible without some kind of abuse. . . . The abuse comes when no one is looking.

Companies that use apes in advertisements defend the practice and note that regardless of welfare issues, apes in ads work. Erin Fifield of Taco John’s, which has been running an ad campaign the past couple years featuring Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey, told the Des Moines Register,

People love him. Whiplash has a fan base worldwide. He’s just a lovable character who, even before he joined Taco John’s campaign, was appearing at rodeos riding around on his dog. Since he joined Taco John’s, sales are up and visibility is up. . . . This little monkey is treated better than most people. He has his own trailer. He’s like another kid. . . . Someone will always find a reason to complain, but he is not abused.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ Amy Rhodes told the Des Moines Register that it has had some success in convincing companies to not use apes in advertising. She cited Honda, Puma, Keds and USA Warehouse as companies that agreed to pull ads featuring apes or monkeys after PETA raised objections.

I suspect this is one area where the animal rights movement is likely hurting the cause of animal welfare. It would be preferable, in my opinion, that non-human primates not be used in entertainment. The problem is that thanks to the actions of groups like PETA with their whining about renaming Fishkill, New York or their comparison of animal agriculture to the Holocaust/slavery, serious animal welfare issues will get swept away as just another ridiculous animal rights complaint (as Fifield clearly dismisses the animal welfare concerns).


Use of apes in ads worries scientists. Perry Beeman, Des Moines Register, August 15, 2005.

Sled Dog Action Coalition/PETA Unsuccessfully Try to Stop Appearance by Dog Sled Racer

In September The Sled Dog Action Coalition and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals led an e-mail and letter campaign to convince a women’s empowerment workshop in New York to drop an appearance by dog sled race DeeDee Jonrowe. Jonrowe is best known for holding the fastest women’s time in the Iditarod.

Yvonne Kopy, director of the Wild Women Unite conference held in Pulaski, New York, told the Associated Press that she received about 30 e-mails a day — some as far away as Europe — asking her to cancel Jonrowe’s scheduled appearance. Kopy told the Associated Press,

I’ve fought many battles, but I didn’t expect this one. The U.K., Italy, France, Scotland. That they really care who comes to Pulaski, New York, I had to laugh.

In an e-mail to the Associated Press, Margery Glickman of the Sled Dog Action Coalition said,

The Iditarod is animal abuse. And animal abuse is not motivational for women.

Similarly, PETA’s Amy Rhodes told the Associated Press,

Driving dogs into the ground and literally working them to death is certainly not a true sport.

Organizers went ahead with Jonrowe’s appearance and she led a parade through Pulaski.


Protest targets dog sled racer. Associated Press, September 13, 2004.

Wild women unite in Pulaski. Edwin Acevedo, The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York), September 18, 2004.

PETA Takes On Pig Racing

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has been trying to stop a couple who bring the Robinson’s Racing Pigs and Paddling Porkers act to state and county fairs.

Mike and Kathy Warren are promoters for the act that features eight pigs who race on a miniature race track, and the pigs also race across a 24-foot long, 2-foot-deep swimming tank.

PETA objects to the pig racing maintaining that it is unnatural for pigs to swim and that the Warrens might be using cruel methods to train the pigs. But several news stories on the pig racing competition reported that local law enforcement officials in several states inspected the operation and found no evidence of animal cruelty.

Which, of course, to PETA is simply more proof that there must be some cruelty going on. As Amy Rhodes told the Boston Globe,

Oftentimes, these people use food deprivation or electric shock or beatings to train them. But we don’t get to see that, and law enforcement officials don’t get to see that.

Got that — animal law enforcement officers across the country regularly inspect these pigs and this operation and the fact that they don’t find evidence of any animal cruelty is simply a sign of just how insidious and deceitful this act must be!

For their part, the Warrens say they never use physical coercion to force the pigs to race. MIke Warren told the Boston Globe,

We had a pig last year who didn’t want to go into the water. She would just go to the edge of the tank and just look left and right. We called her Pokeyhontas. But the crowds seemed to love it. Because she wouldn’t swim, it was so funny.

Not that PETA’s complaints didn’t have any effect. Here’s how the Globe described the results of PETA’s complaints when the pig racing act appeared in Spencer, Mass., (emphasis added),

A law enforcement officer from the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reviewed the charge on Thursday, but after witnessing a mock race, inspecting the horse trailer the pigs were transported in, and interviewing the Warrens, Sergeant Peter Oberton found no cause to press charges.

Still, thanks to the PETA complaint and the ensuing media coverage, this year’s pig races have been a bigger draw than ever. At yesterday’s 2 p.m. race, about 125 fair-goers filled a section of bleachers and encircled the track.

. . .

“They end up complaining about it, and it increases my business,” said Mike Warren.


PETA protests pig races, but MSPCA finds no fault. Peter DeMarco, Boston Globe, August 31, 2003.

PEA protests pig swimming race. News 14 Carolina, September 7, 2003.

More Cow Bingo Madness

Connellsville Area High School plans on using a “Cow Bingo” event as a fund raiser, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has already sent letters to the school complaining that the event is cruel to the cow.

The event will involve marking the front lawn of the school into 3,025 squares, allowing people to buy a square for $10, with the winner being decided on where the cow decides to do her business.

PETA’s Amy Rhodes sent a letter saying, “We are writing to ask that you ensure that this event is immediately replaced with a more humane and truly entertaining one.”

Principal Robert McLuckey told the Associated Press that the show will go on. “People have already bought tickets for it,” McLuckey said. “We have had a positive response to it overall.”


Despite PETA opposition, prom fund-raiser goes on. The Associated Press, March 26, 2002.

Owner of Cow Used in Fundraiser Says PETA Wrong about Mistreatment Allegations

The owner of a cow used as part of a fundraiser for Florida Southern College called People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ claims that the cow was mistreated are “ridiculous.”

The animal was used in a game of Cow Bingo, where participants bought $10 tickets corresponding to parts of a field where the cow would heed the call of nature. PETA claimed that the cow was fed laxatives and gave birth shortly after the event. The cow’s owner, Mike Hiestand, says neither of those claims is true.

“The cow did not give birth,” Hiestand told the Lakeland Ledger. “Why would I take a chance on hurting a calf and feed a cow laxatives? Some of the kids asked me if I could use laxatives to make the game move along faster, but I refused.”

Hiestand also disputed claims by PETA’s Amy Rhodes that the cow was stressed by the event. “If she was stressed, she would have torn down the pen,” Hiestand said. “She doesn’t know the difference — whether you take her to a pasture or the Lakeland Square Mall.”

Hiestand challenged PETA up or shut up. “I’d like them to prove there was any mistreatment of the cow,” Hiestand told the Lakeland Ledger. “My family spends more money on that cow than some people spend on their kids.”

Whatever you do, Mr. Heistand, just do not let PETA “rescue” your cow. Animals given that treatment by PETA do not tend to live long enough to be stressed out.


Owner: Cow was treated fine. Erik Ortiz, The Lakeland Ledger, February 17, 2002.

PETA: Laughter Stresses Out Cows

On Feb. 12 I wrote about People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals complaining about a game of cow bingo organized as a fundraiser by students at Florida Southern College. A large field was marked off into a grid, and prizes awarded based on where the cow heeded the call of nature. PETA claimed that the cow was fed laxatives, a claim with Florida Southern College denied. Now, PETA is back for round 2 with FSC.

PETA’s Amy Rhodes complains that, “All they [FSC] did was deny the cow was fed laxatives. And they quoted [to the effect that the game was not cruel] someone who wasn’t even there .”

Hmmm. PETA complains that the cow was fed laxatives and when FSC denies that, PETA whines, “is that all you’ve got.” Rhodes should either put up or shut up by providing some sort of evidence that FSC is wrong on this point.

As to whether or not having a crowd watch a cow wander around a field is cruel or not, Rhodes maintains that it is, claiming her initial complaints were misunderstood. According to Rhodes,

I was not talking about the cow being embarrassed. That’s just silly, but I would assume that she was stressed in that situation. … I am told there were a hundred people laughing at (the cow), some children. You don’t teach children to ridicule animals or degrade them because they may do the same to people. It’s a dangerous message to send to children.

Perhaps she has a point — it might be better to laugh at and ridicule Rhodes for offering up such a ludicrous argument. It’s interesting, though, that Rhodes criticizes FSC for asking a local SPCA official who wasn’t at the event about whether or not it was cruel, but then herself launches into an argument prefaced by “I would assume that she was stressed.” What a convenient sort of hypocrisy that is.

I would assume in that situation that Rhodes doesn’t know what she’s talking about.


PETA still critical of college’s use of a cow. Erik Ortiz, The Lakeland Ledger (Florida), February 14, 2002.