Chimps in Super Bowl ads cause controversy

February 2, 2012

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Chicago-based CareerBuilder is coming under fire for its latest Super Bowl ad featuring chimpanzees. This is not the first year CareerBuilder has featured chimpanzees as actors in its ads, and it's not the first time Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo has spoken out against the ads.

But this is the first year a study has been published showing that chimps used in entertainment has a negative impact. Brian Hare at Duke University led the study.

"Seeing chimpanzees in TV like this actually makes people think they're great pets - that they're not endangered," Hare said.

Hare said the bigger issue, though, is the international reach of Super Bowl ads. He said people watching in countries where endangered chimps live put the animals in further peril.

"If they see that there's a market, that there's people who are interested in these animals, that people in the United States dress them up and want to treat them as pets - it will not be but one second before they're out going to collect some so they can then sell them," Hare said.

Hare added that there is already a great apes trade active in Africa, but that this exposure does not help matters. Hare would like CareerBuilder to explore other options like using animation.

Career Builder said the chimps were treated humanely and that the ads are effective.