February 6, 2020

BBC Earth just Wrecked my entire Day.

Reasons why baby chimps make good pets:

  1. They don’t.
  2. They’re not dogs and cats.
  3. Just never even entertain the thought.

This video broke my heart. Watching Jenny Desmond’s emotional telling of an all-too-common story—how baby Poppy was ripped away from her mother—speaks volumes. As one of the founders of Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection, she understands the realities far better than most of us.

From Jane Goodall on the reality of making a chimp a pet:

“The day will come when despite all best efforts the chimpanzee must go. The owners often feel betrayed by the animals that they raised and devoted so much attention to. Sadly, they cannot be sent back to Africa. Most zoos will not take ex-pets because human reared chimpanzees do not know chimp etiquette and tend not to fit into established groups. Tragically, many pet chimps end up in medical research laboratories. Because owners are asked not to visit the chimps—so as not to disturb them in their ‘new-found happiness’—the former chimp owners never realise the horrendous conditions to which they have condemned their friend.”

Now, most of us reading here at Elephant are likely not the kinds of people who think a chimp as a pet is a super cute, oh-my-gawd-the-outfits idea. We know better. We also know about the horrendous effects of palm oil, why going meatless helps Earth, and we’re pretty in-the-know about general animal welfare.

But did you know that the chimpanzee population has declined from around one million at the start of the 20th century to under 300,000? Scary. The poaching that is happening is less about the bush meat of an adult chimp, and more about satisfying a wealthy person’s pursuit of something cute and exotic to show off.

So, heart broken? Did you just spend a solid three minutes crying in front of your screen like I did? Want to help?

Here’s what we can do: 

Donate. Even five bucks. Did you see that viral tree-planting thing that happened on YouTube recently? Lots of people and tiny amounts makes a huge difference. You can donate right through the Jane Goodall Institute or the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, but there are many other worthwhile rescues and charities. Do your research so you know who you’re giving your hard-earned bucks to.

Don’t participate in animal and wildlife tourism—for the most part. Some rescues allow visitors and tourism (like Lek Chailert’s Elephant Nature Park in Thailand) but they ensure that boundaries are firm, the animals are never exploited, and ultimately, the animals are the ones who benefit. Never participate in any animal activity or exhibit while traveling unless you’ve diligently done your homework.

Be an armchair activist. Yes, even that can help in a small way. Just knowing about the issue and spreading that knowledge can initiate big changes in the world. Write about it. Post it on your social media feeds. Maybe one of your other friends will want to give five bucks too, after they realize. Tagging someone in a meme because it’s so damn relatable? Tag them on a post that matters, too.


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