Chimpanzees used in commercials are mostly infants and juveniles who were taken away from their mothers (a traumatic act for mother and infant) so they can be trained to perform for entertainment and advertising. This changes their futures forever. Since they usually only have a working “shelf life” of about 6 to 8 years (while still juveniles), they rarely can be handled and worked as adolescents and adults, and most often end up discarded out of show business.
Accredited zoos won’t usually accept performing or human-raised chimpanzees because they are difficult to mix with the zoos’ more naturally behaving groups. Many of these former “stars” end up in roadside zoos, backyard cages, or breeder compounds. Those lucky enough to end up in an established sanctuary have to be supported for the rest of their lives by donations from people who don’t know them, but care about them.
The public is more aware today than six years ago of what the cost is to these intelligent great apes used as pets and entertainers (simply to make us laugh or pitch sales for a company). Today, at least 15 advertising agencies, including ten of the top 15 agencies in the world, and the top three agencies in this country (McCann Erickson, BBDO, and Young & Rubicam) have pledged not to use great apes in commercials and advertisements any longer. And the list is growing.