Primate Rescue Center

In Entertainment

PhotoThey perform in circuses, movies, and TV commercials, and they perch atop entertainers’ shoulders at county fairs or, dressed as tiny jockeys, are strapped atop dogs who traverse an oval race course. It’s all meant to entertain us, but the use of primates in entertainment has a dark side that’s not quite so amusing: these young animals are usually coerced to perform their tricks via the use of negative reinforcement—i.e., they’re beaten or otherwise punished when they don’t get with the program. And there are no show-business roles for these youngsters when they reach adolescence; dangerous, and therefore no longer able to earn money for their owners, they’re usually dumped into the pet trade, where they’ll live out their lives in another kind of misery.


  • Primates used in entertainment are usually taken from their mothers just days after birth, causing both parent and offspring enormous stress and confusion.
  • While being trained for entertainment, primates are typically subjected to isolation and abuse.
  • Movie producers are now successfully using animatronics and digital techniques in place of live apes and monkeys—techniques viewers should applaud and demand.
  • The cute and cuddly young primates that viewers see in TV commercials help reinforce the idea that these animals are tame and easy to handle. This not only further fuels the pet trade, but it may encourage even more poaching from the wild to help meet demand.
  • Those who supply primates to Hollywood and Madison Avenue often sell them—or even give them gratis—to breeders, dealers, and substandard “sanctuaries” when the animals become too large to handle.

Bottom Line
Nonhuman primates should not be forced, against their will, to perform in circuses, movies, TV shows, or photos shoots, particularly since their training involves cruelty.

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