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.

Activists Run Semi-Nude to Protest Pamplona Running of the Bulls

In early July, Pamplona once again held its centuries old — and world famous thanks to Ernest Hemingway — running of the bulls. Along with thousands of spectators and runners, about 200-300 animal rights activists from 15 countries showed up to protest the event.

Sponsored by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, the activists protested by running the route the day before the event topless and in underwear. According to The Associated Press,

They had planned to run the route totally nude but did not have the necessary town hall permit, the Efe news agency reported.

So Pamplona actually has a permit allowing people to run through the streets nude? How cool is that?

Anyway, according to PETA (emphasis added),

Every year, thousands of visitors from around the world arrive in Pamplona, Spain, to join in the annual spectacle of the “Running of the Bulls.” But tourists are appalled to see the terrified animals racing through streets crawling with drinking, brawling people. The bulls’ hooves slip on the pavement as they race frantically, trying to escape the chaos. Sometimes, in their confusion, they bash into doors or the sides of buildings, breaking horns or legs. Human runners and spectators gouge them with sticks or pull their tails, and they, too, are sometimes injured, gored, or trampled by bulls desperate to escape.

So on the one hand, according to PETA, its tourists — especially Americans — responsible for the continuation of bullfighting and the running of the bulls, but on the other hand these very same tourists “are appalled” at what they see. Okay, then why do they keep on coming?

Regardless of whether or not the event is cruel, it is certainly extremely popular (in fact, according to the Associated Press, the event is so popular that there are no less than eight separate runnings of the bulls over a weeklong period).


Protesters decry bullfighting in Spain. Associated Press, July 5, 2004.

Running of the Bulls Starts in Spain. Associated Press, July 6, 2004.

Thousands run with Pamplona bulls. The BBC, July 7, 2004.

Running of the Nudes. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Undated.

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.

Friends of Animals Unhappy with Proposed Pig Race

Derby, Connecticut is planning to hold a pig race as part of its Derby Day festivities on June 29, which has drawn fire from Friends of Animals which considers it cruel to allow spectators to watch pigs race around a track.

Friends of Animals’ Jessica Rae Patton told The Connecticut Post,

It’s inhumane to pigs because pigs can’t sweat; they have no sweat glands and can’t pant. They need pools of water and mud holes to keep cool, and they shouldn’t be made to run in the summer heat. It’s ludicrous

John Coscia, a member of the Derby Cultural Commission, countered that the animals are treated humanely and have access to wallowing pools and rest areas. Coscia told The Connecticut Post,

I don’t think it is inhumane like they say. I’ve seen these pig races before and they’re fine.

Of course Friends of Animals thinks it is cruel to ever have animals perform for entertainment purposes. According to Patton,

We don’t think any animal should be forced to perform for entertainment.

That is a sentiment that Friends of Animals’ Priscilla Feral reinforced, saying,

I don’t think the pigs should be used for entertainment purposes in spectator sport. Pig should be left alone.


Pig race promotion prompts complaints. Associated Press, May 25, 2003.

Official: Pig racers for Derby Day not mistreated. Anthony Spinelli, The Connecticut Post, May 12, 2003.