Did you hear the one about the Instagramming chimp?
Well if not, consider yourself lucky. A video has been floating around the web showing a chimpanzee agilely scrolling through an Instagram feed which shows other animals both wild and domestic. As so often happens, this video of "animals doing human things" went viral and was then picked up by news outlets that highlighted just how cute it was to see an ape play with a cell phone like a pro.
But there really is nothing cute about what's going on. The video is of a juvenile chimp at The Myrtle Beach Safari, a private South Carolina zoo that holds over 100 animals captive and charges visitors to come to have up close and personal experiences with wild animals.
PETA has claimed that the zoo exploits animals and calls it "a highway hellhole", an allegation that the park denies. But when Myrtle Beach Safari exploits its animals for publicity stunts and viral videos ... what other explanation is there?
Sign the petition calling on The Myrtle Beach Safari to STOP exploiting captive animals through its "encounters" and viral videos!
From forcing their chimps to play football with a real NFL star, to taking them to see Tarzan in a theater to uploading videos of a juvenile chimp scrolling through Instagram. These stunts and gimmicks send the wrong message about animals and how they should be treated. They are not human, and shouldn't be treated as such.
Take the Instagramming chimp. Several conservationists and news outlets alike have repeatedly warned that posting "cute" videos of chimps and other animals on social media further endanger their survival.
In fact, when legendary primatologist Jane Goodall saw the most recent chimp video her foundation issued a plea for news outlets and others to stop sharing it altogether: "Social media videos and posts of this kind [drive] the illegal trade in chimpanzees and other great apes as pets.
When it comes to its mission of helping endangered animals, the Myrtle Beach Safari is actually doing the opposite. Their "wild encounter" and "preservation station" tours let people get up close and personal to baby tigers and others, giving the impression that these captive animals are just like any other pet and their Instagram posts further imperil their future.
If the owner Doc Antle really cared about the future of these incredible creatures he would stop exploiting them. Sign the petition and ask Doc Antle and The Myrtle Beach Safari to stop encouraging the illegal trade in wild animals through his Instagram and animal encounter tours.