Department Chair, Animal Studies, Humane Society University, United States
“I am an ethologist with Bachelors and Masters degrees in biology, and a Doctorate in animal behavior from the University of Tennessee (1991). I am the author of three books on animal sentience, behavior and emotions, and over 45 peer reviewed journal papers and book chapters. The opinions expressed in this letter are entirely my own and are based on my best efforts to interpret the information provided to me.
"The behavior of chimps in their cages, which includes rocking and yawning stereotypies, coughing, and aggression, indicates that they are bored and in some cases possibly depressed. The aggression directed towards the cameraperson also suggests that these animals have reason to hate humans. These chimps are exposed to abuse by the public, such as throwing objects at them, including cigarettes which some of the chimps then smoke. All the performing chimps wear tight-fitting collars with leashes. There is no joy shown by either the chimps or the humans. Though I did see one photo of an adult cradling a youngster, it appears that most of the infants are kept separate from their mothers. This is as big a social and emotional deficit for chimps as it is for women. All of the chimpanzees appear unhappy, or worse.
The tiger is obese, and of course, grossly confined for a large predator whose natural home range is hundreds of square kilometers.
As a general comment, chimpanzee entertainment shows like this are an anachronism, and they have no place in modern, civilized society. What we now know of these socially sophisticated, highly intelligent great apes makes them utterly inappropriate for spectacles in which they perform silly stunts for human audiences. Chimps are individuals with biographies. We do them, and ultimately ourselves, no service by enslaving them for our amusement. That’s reason enough to have this operation closed down.“
Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, United States
“The powerful footage obtained by Animal Equality revealing chained chimpanzees in human costumes performing in circus shows, motherless chimp babies staring up from the ground of tiny, barren concrete cages, and the ritual pacing of tigers sadly only reveals a snapshot of the animal abuse and suffering at Schwaben Park.
It is clear that there is a dark and abusive relationship between animals and their ‘caregivers’ at the facility. Workers tear chimpanzee infants from their mothers they are only one day old so that they can be trained for the circus shows. Animals trained to perform unnatural and demeaning tricks learn to obey humans through punishment, domination and isolation. The fate of animals deemed too old and dangerous to participate in the shows is unknown, but it is unlikely these individuals would adapt easily back into established chimpanzee groups.
Following this expose, Schwaben Park should be viewed not as an amusement park, but a prison for hundreds of exploited, innocent beings. In this day and age, we should reject facilities such as Schwaben Park. Animals are not objects of entertainment and I urge the public to boycott this dismal facility.“
Ed.D. Licensed psychologist, President New England Anti-Vivisection Society and ‘Project R & R: Release and Restitution for Chimpanzees in U.S. Laboratories‘, United States
“Infants cannot thrive psychologically or physically without a mother or mother substitute, so essential is that bond to their well being. We know that raising infant chimpanzees as surrogate humans to prepare them to act like humans for our "entertainment" or even our research use in areas like sign language acquisition, leaves these chimpanzees with identity confusions so profound that they fail to know with certainty who they are at their core.
When raised as a human, a chimpanzee identifies with being human - so formative is that "mother" or mother substitute bond. We imposed, or if you will, imprinted" a human "mother" and, therefore, a human identity on that chimpanzee child. In the case of future entertainment use, we demanded they identify as human. Then, inevitably comes that fatal day when they can no longer be part of the human world because of their strength and the irrefutable fact that, even in all their confusion, they are after all chimpanzee - in body, will, reason, strength and emotional expression.
In that moment, the cross-fostered chimpanzee is condemned to live on the edges of two worlds – one human, one chimpanzee - neither of which he or she can be fully a part.
We have damaged, perverted his/her chimpanzeeness with a set of human facial expressions, gestures, behaviors and needs that will not serve that chimpanzee in a chimpanzee world of others who were raised as chimps and know who they are in every gene. Chimpanzees raised by and in a chimpanzee world know themselves to be a part of the ancient physical, social and psychological culture of chimpanzees with all of its rules and realities.
We rob chimpanzees of their world for our pleasure and needs and then reject them, as we must, as full participants in our human world. I can think of no greater betrayal than this. To welcome someone as family, as a member of our community, and then one day unceremoniously -- even if by necessity -- reject them. We look at them and, with the power we hold over them, we close the doors on them to the world they once knew and believed was theirs. In fact, we lock and chain those doors to make certain they cannot and will not ever enter our world again. In the world of entertainment, this tragic trajectory, condemns them to a life as an entertainer for as long as their will can be controlled.“
Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, Germany
“The presentation of chimpanzees in Schwaben Park is completely unacceptable. The infants have to be separated from their mothers in order to be drilled for the shows (and for the TV appearances that they are forced to do). This early separation from the mother leads to huge problems for the animals. So that much so that, thereafter, they are unable to behave naturally, and form normal social relationships with other chimpanzees. These animals are taken away from conspecifics to entertain humans and as a result suffer psychological disorders.
Furthermore, a completely inaccurate image of chimpanzees is portrayed by the circus shows, and their needs are not respected at all. The shows also do not inform visitors about the threats facing the animals in their natural habitat.
The housing of chimpanzees in Schwaben Park is definitively not appropriate for the species and the management of the park do not consider their species-specific requirements. For this reason I consider it a shame that such an institution is allowed to exhibit these animals.“
Chimpanzee rescue and rehabilitation specialist, UK
“The enclosures at Schwaben Park have few if any areas outside where the chimpanzees can get away from public view. The chimpanzees’ mental health appears to be compromised and this manifests itself in a range of abnormal behaviours as seen in your video clips such as repetitive stereotypical behaviours, raspberry vocalisations and excessive displaying. These behaviours are indicators of psychological suffering and of other disorders associated with inability to have control of environmental impacts, which is typical for zoo-living chimpanzees. I am also shocked and disappointed that Schwaben Park are allowed to conduct their distasteful chimpanzee shows given the stress and trauma that it puts these animals under.“
BSc (Vet Biol), BVMS, CertAW, DipECAWBM (WSEL), PhD, MRCVS, FOCAE, European Veterinary Specialist in Welfare Science and Fellow of Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, UK
“Chimpanzees Chimpanzees are truly remarkable creatures. As our closest living relatives they possess advanced emotional, psychological, and social characteristics. However, these same characteristics markedly increase their ability to suffer when born into unnatural captive environments or captured from the wild, and then subjected to confinement, social disruption, and coercive participation in circus tricks.
The decreasing wild populations of these grievously endangered creatures is also one of the greatest tragedies within the unfolding disaster of modern species extinctions. Clearly, we must do all we can to increase social awareness of the uniqueness and irreplaceability chimpanzees.
Instead, in Schwaben Park, chimpanzees perform a variety of demeaning circus tricks, such as balancing on giant balls, riding tricycles and quad bikes, pretending to use shaving razors and telephones, and wearing human clothes including, in one case, a ridiculous hat, whilst being made to dance.
Unsurprisingly, a recent study published in a leading scientific journal (Schroepfer et al. 2011) has shown that people watching chimpanzees perform in human clothing become less likely to donate to chimpanzee conservation. If chimpanzees are available and permitted to be used in such activities, perhaps they are not endangered after all, people may think. Hence, the activities of Schwaben Park are not only demeaning to and devaluing of chimpanzees, but also harmful to the cause of chimpanzee conservation.
Additionally, experts believe that the advanced psychological and social characteristics of chimpanzees render it impossible in practical terms to provide environments outside of large sanctuaries that satisfactorily meet their minimum psychological and behavioural requirements, which include family preservation, ample opportunities for climbing, exploring, problem solving, and playing, and considerable space (Balls 1995, DeGrazia 1996, Smith & Boyd 2002).
The chimpanzees at Schwaben Park are confined within small internal enclosures, and larger external enclosures. However even the latter provided limited opportunities to climb, and are far too small. Unsurprisingly, therefore, chimpanzees in these cages were filmed exhibiting profoundly depressed postures, and stereotypical behaviours. These are repetitive, apparently purposeless behaviours, believed to indicate psychological distress which is both profound and chronic. At Schwaben Park chimpanzees were observed swaying from side to side, head-rocking, bar-licking, and pacing the borders of their enclosures.
Greatly concerning was the very high number of baby chimpanzees supposedly rejected by their mothers, and hand-reared. Maternal-infant bonds are very strong in chimpanzees, and maternal rejection is a rare phenomenon. However, only hand-reared chimpanzees are most suitable for training to participate in the sort of circus tricks audiences pay to see at Schwaben Park. Involuntary removal of baby chimps from mothers is likely to result in extreme stress to both mother and infant.
It was disturbing to see the small enclosure infant chimpanzees were confined in. The large plexiglas window offered no opportunity to hide from the public, who were sometimes filmed banging on the window, which could only be expected to increase the stress experienced by these infants.
Although the stressful interactions with humans are of a different nature, the confinement of chimpanzees within research laboratories has much in common with the conditions witnessed at Schwaben Park. Recent studies have established beyond any reasonable doubt that the effects of laboratory confinement and procedures, especially long term, can be severe. Many captive great apes, including chimpanzees recently retired from US laboratories (Bradshaw et al. 2008), show gross behavioural abnormalities, such as stereotypies, self-mutilation or other self-injurious behaviour, inappropriate aggression, fear, or withdrawal (Brüne et al. 2006, Bourgeois et al. 2007).
It is increasingly acknowledged that such abnormal behaviours resemble symptoms associated with human psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder, and that pharmacological treatment modalities similar to those applied to human patients may be appropriate, and indeed morally compelled, for severely disturbed animal patients (Brüne et al. 2006, Bourgeois et al. 2007). Long-term therapeutic combination with positive reinforcement training, environmental enrichment, and social and environmental modification may be necessary in severe cases (Bourgeois et al. 2007).
The medical condition of some of the chimpanzees at Schwaben Park was also a concern. One was filmed repeatedly and almost violently coughing, in close contact with other chimpanzees. These chimpanzees are also in close contact with human visitors, from who they may contract respiratory illnesses. Another chimpanzee had a swollen and ulcerated ear flap, suggesting the possibility of cancer, although additional tests would be required to achieve a diagnosis. Numerous smaller wounds or ulcers were observed on limb extremities and faces. The causes are unknown, but may include fighting or other traumatic events.
The interaction with park visitors was also potentially harmful to the chimpanzees in other ways. Chimpanzees were filmed handling and chewing an apple juice packet and yoghurt container, raising the possibility of foreign body ingestion and potentially severe gastrointestinal consequences. One was even seen smoking a cigarette, apparently mimicking human behaviour. All of these were probably discarded by visitors – indeed, one was filmed throwing a cigarette into an enclosure. Visitor supervision was clearly inadequate to safeguard the welfare of the chimpanzees.
Hair loss was also visible on several chimpanzees, but it was unclear whether this was from contact with surfaces, skin parasites, age-related, or due to other causes.
Other animals The siberian tiger compound appeared similarly barren and space-limited, given the enormous territories these animals would naturally explore in the wild.
An alpaca was witnessed bar-chewing, and a goat observed chewing trash. These behaviours may reflect hunger, or stress. I understand that around 50 goats, sheep and alpaca are exhibited with no access to food or pasture during opening hours. Instead visitors can pay to feed the animals. The crowd of animal pressing up to the bars revealed a disturbing level of hunger. Also concerning was footage of a visitor trying to catch a goat kid, doubtless causing more stress, and again revealing inadequate visitor supervision.
I also observed one alpaca that may have had overgrown hooves.
Schwaben Park is clearly a commercial enterprise exploiting chimpanzees and other animals for profit. The circus tricks they coerce their chimpanzees to participate in are highly demeaning, and communicate the wrong values about respecting and valuing these amazing, endangered creatures. They are undoubtedly harmful to the cause of chimpanzee conservation.
The Schwaben Park enclosures are relatively small and barren when compared to the wild habitats of the chimpanzees, tigers, goats, sheep and alpacas confined there, and several signs of stress, including disturbing stereotypical behaviours, were witnessed, along with some signs of poor health and nutrition. This was exacerbated by inadequate supervision of visitors, who were filmed throwing a cigarette into an enclosure, followed by a chimpanzee smoking, with another chewing on discarded plastic trash.
In short, Schwaben Park is clearly an anachronism within modern Europe. It is an affront to near universally-accepted values supporting animal welfare and the conservation of endangered species, and should be closed down.“
- Balls M. (1995). Chimpanzee medical experiments: moral, legal, and scientific concerns. In Poor Model Man: Experimenting on Chimpanzees: Proceedings of the First PACE (People Against Chimpanzee Experiments) Conference on the Use of Chimpanzees in Biomedical Research. Alternatives to Laboratory Animals 23: 607–614
- Bourgeois S. R., Vazquez M. and Brasky K. (2007) Combination therapy reduces self- injurious behavior in a chimpanzee (Pan Troglodytes Troglodytes): a case report. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 10 (2): 123–140
- Bradshaw G. A., Capaldo T., Lindner L. and Grow G. (2008) Building an inner sanctuary: complex PTSD in chimpanzees. Journal of Trauma and Dissociation 9 (1): 9–34
- Brüne M., Brüne-Cohrs U., McGrew W. C. and Preuschoft S. (2006) Psychopathology in great apes: concepts, treatment options and possible homologies to human psychiatric disorders. Neuroscience & Biobehavioural Reviews 30: 1246–1259
- DeGrazia D. (1996) Taking Animals Seriously: Mental Life and Moral Status. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: Cambridge
- Schroepfer K. K., Rosati A. G., Chartrand T. and Hare B. (2011) Use of “entertainment” chimpanzees in commercials distorts public perception regarding their conservation status. PLoS ONE 6 (10): e26048
- Smith J. A and Boyd K. M (eds) (2002) The Boyd Group Papers on the Use of Non-Human Primates in Research and Testing. The British Psychological Society: UK
Assistant Professor of Psychology, Marymount University, United States
“My name is Dr. Stacy Lopresti-Goodman and I am an assistant professor of psychology at Marymount University, in Arlington, VA, USA. My research focuses on abnormal behavior and symptoms of psychological distress and psychopathology in chimpanzees who have been rescued from the exotic pet trade, entertainment industry, and biomedical research. My research has been presented at scientific conferences around the world. I have also have served as an expert consultant to two chimpanzee sanctuaries.
After reviewing video footage and photographs taken at Schwaben Park by Animal Equality Germany, it is evident that many of the chimpanzees at Schwaben Park display symptoms of psychological distress and engage in a variety of abnormal, stress induced behaviors, which are detailed below. This is not surprising given recent observational research at zoos revealed that 100% of the chimpanzees living there engage in at least one abnormal behavior . Given the many similarities in brain structures that are affected by distress in humans and chimpanzees (e.g. the hippocampus, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis), and psychosocial and behavioral similarities between the two, many chimpanzees living in captivity display symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), and depression similar to that seen in humans [2-7]. These symptoms are brought about by maternal separation and deprivation, inadequate environmental conditions that lack cognitive enrichment, the confusing behaviors chimpanzees are forced to perform (e.g. wearing clothing and riding a motor bike), and the constant presence of and interaction with humans [8, 9].
During the chimpanzee performance at Schwaben Park recorded by Animal Equality, as well as in photographs taken in the chimpanzees’ outdoor enclosure, it appears that many of the chimpanzees have hair loss on their faces, heads, chests, and the back of their shoulders. An increase in the stress hormone cortisol can result in alopecia universalis, or hair loss on parts of, or even the entire surface of, the body. This has been seen in other captive living chimpanzees, such as in Guru, a now completely hairless chimpanzee living in the Mysore Zoo in southern India. The hair loss may also be the result of stress induced self-directed behaviors, such as the chimpanzees stereotypically plucking their hair from their body [1, 10, 11]. This self-depilation is similar to trichotillomania in humans, and is a form of obsessive compulsive disorders.
Another juvenile chimpanzee captured on video and in photographs was observed self-clasping while sitting in a depressed, hunched posture on top of a small climbing structure. He/she also has what appears to be gouges all over his/her head. This is possibly the result of self-injurious behaviors. Chimpanzees, like humans who meet the criteria for CPTSD, which is brought about by prolonged and repetitive trauma such as being held captive as opposed to singular traumatic events, are more likely to engage in self-injurious behaviors as a way to physically relieve psychological distress [12-16]. It is possible that the chimpanzees at Schwaben Park are experiencing symptoms of CPTSD and this is what is resulting in their self-injurious behaviors. There are also photographs of other juvenile and adult chimpanzees self-clasping while sitting in a depressed hunched posture, also indicating distress.
In the video three different chimpanzees in their enclosure sat and rocked and bobbed their heads repetitively. Multiple other chimpanzees were recorded making raspberry noises with their mouths. All of these behaviors are abnormal behaviors that only occur in captive-living chimpanzees and may indicate psychological distress or boredom [1, 11, 17]. Typically chimpanzees engage in these kinds of behavior as a way to self-soothe if upset, or to self-stimulate in the absence of enrichment [1, 2, 17-22]. In the wild chimpanzees live in social groups of up to 150 individuals and roam areas as large as 250 square miles. In captivity, they are deprived of these rich social interactions and of ample space. By looking at the small, barren cages the chimpanzees are forced to live in, which lack natural foliage, opportunities for foraging, and places for the chimpanzees to hide from constant onlookers, it is apparent that they are not provided with appropriate living conditions and this could be resulting in the documented abnormal behaviors.
The chimpanzees are also made visibly upset by the presence of humans, as evidenced by their running towards humans, spitting and throwing objects in their direction. Humans in the video are recorded banging on and yelling at the window of an infant chimpanzees’ enclosure, and are even seen throwing objects at an adult chimpanzee inside of his/her outdoor enclosure. These are behaviors that chimpanzees perceive as a provocation and a threat. While some chimpanzees display aggression and frustration in response to these unsympathetic and callous humans, others are simply seen sitting quietly. This suggests learned helplessness, where the chimpanzee has learned to accept this abusive behavior and their adverse situations as a result of being unable to escape, change, or avoid the stressful situation . An adult human male was even documented throwing a lit cigarette at a chimpanzee, which the chimpanzee proceeded to smoke and cough in response to. This is evidence of neglect on the caregivers’ part.
In addition to not having places to hide or avoid noisy onlookers in their outdoor enclosures, the chimpanzees are forced to endure a loud, squeaky tramcar that passes by their enclosure multiple times a day. In response to this, you see one chimpanzee who becomes physically and emotionally distressed evidenced by piloerection (hair standing on end), him/her standing on their hind legs, rocking back and forth, clapping their hands, making raspberry noises, and hitting the fence. Previous research has documented that abnormal and stereotypical behavior such as rocking and swaying increases as the amount of environmental noise increases . Having to endure such noisy conditions on a daily basis will result in prolonged periods of elevated stress hormones which will have a detrimental effect on their physical health in addition to their psychological health.
Another chimpanzee was documented as repetitively spitting on the bars of their enclosure and then reingesting their spit. This is another one of the most common abnormal behaviors observed in captive living chimpanzees and might be indicative of an obsessive compulsion, may be a way for the chimpanzee to alleviate boredom, or might be the result of the lack of an adequate diet [1, 11, 18, 25].
It was reported to me that approximately 30 of the 44 chimpanzees currently living in Schwaben Park have been hand-reared by humans, 18 of whom were born at the park and were reportedly either rejected by their mothers, or the mothers were not in sufficient health to raise them. While this number seems very high, much higher than any other rate of mother-infant rejection I have ever encountered, research shows that chimpanzees and other primates who have been human reared in captivity often lack many species specific behaviors, such as normal mothering behaviors [26-30]. Research also shows that chimpanzees who are stressed are more likely to reject their infants .
Given the majority of the chimpanzees at Schwaben Park are human reared and under constant stress as a result of human presence and being forced to perform unnatural behaviors for humans’ amusement, it would be no surprise if some of the chimpanzee mothers at Schwaben Park have rejected their infants.
Schwaben Park also claims that many of the mothers were not capable of raising their infants given insufficient health. If this is the case, it is most likely the result of the inadequate and stressful environment they find themselves living in. By no means should Schwaben Park be allowed to continue breeding chimpanzees. If the chimpanzees are not retired to an accredited sanctuary, then as is done at many chimpanzee sanctuaries who provide lifelong care to abused and neglected chimpanzees, the female chimpanzees should be put on some form of birth control, like Depo-Provera, and the male chimpanzees should be vasectomized to prevent future chimpanzees from being brought into the world only to be rejected by their mothers and forced to perform unnatural behaviors that induce stress.“
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MBMS and primatologist, UK
“Many people have seen chimpanzees in the zoo or dressed up performing tricks, such as riding bicycles and having tea parties. It can be an amusing form of entertainment and makes our kids laugh. It all seems a bit of fun, for us humans that is. Few people realize that behind the scenes these attractions are hugely exploitative. To force any wild animal to perform such unnatural behaviors and actions involves training, usually of the punitive form, more often than not by food and water depravation at a minimum. On many occasions more forceful training methods are employed. In this example at Schwaben Park, we are talking about animals that are capable of displaying remarkable levels of intelligence, and depth of emotions and communication. In fact, the chimpanzees are considered the most intelligent of all animals which is no surprise given they are the closest extant species to man and share 98% of our DNA.
For a western zoo in the 21st century like Schwaben Park, therefore, to be hand rearing juvenile chimpanzees specifically to force them to wear clothes, perform unnatural and demeaning tricks and provide all kinds of entertainment is not only heart breaking but a grossly unethical form of abuse. Any such show which exploits living animals in this way is a form of violation and the animals suffer.
There is no getting away from the truth that abuse of these animals in this way is unnecessary and unacceptable and serves no purpose other than to raise profits while their welfare is being severely compromised. Who really thinks it is normal for a chimpanzee to wear human clothes, ride a bicycle, wear silly hats or play games? For this is the kind of distorted misinformation such attractions are teaching children. These tricks have nothing to do with how these highly intelligent apes behave and live in the wild.
Please take a positive step and ban all forms of animal exploitation and abuse like this.“
Canadian Representative, Born Free Foundation, United States
“Upon reviewing video provided by Animal Equality, purported to show exhibits at Schwaben Park, Germany, I would like to make the following observations, based on more than four decades of work, as a naturalist, on wild animal welfare issues. I am the Canadian Representative and Senior Programme Associate of Born Free USA, as well as a director of Animal Alliance of Canada Environment Voters, and a director of Zoocheck-Canada, and a member of various natural history and zoology organizations, including the Ontario Field Ornithologists, the Toronto Ornithological Club and the Wilson Ornithological Society. I am the author of numerous columns, articles and books dealing with wildlife, particularly birds, and have examined captive animal facilities in North, Central and South America, the West Indies, Europe, Africa and Asia, and have had extensive hands-on experience with the rehabilitation of native Canadian birds and other wildlife species.
I am sorry to see that such exhibits as the parrot show held at Schwaben Park, where parrots and cockatoos and other bird species, including a chicken, are made to perform silly tricks in a Bavarian-themed stage show that in no way addresses what are often claimed by the international zoo community to be the two most important and socially valid rationales for keeping in captivity.
Any claims of the show being ‘educational’ cannot be true. Beyond, at most, perhaps implying that birds are capable of being trained. On the contrary, the shows rob the animals involved of the dignity inherent to them, and evident as they occur naturally in the wild. It implies that they function for the amusement of onlookers, and to attract paying customers. I am especially concerned that small children will be misled and confused as to the nature of these birds, by suggesting that they are part of some sort of human community and by anthropomorphizing them.
There is no hint as to their natural circumstances; on the contrary, species from various habitats and ecozones are mixed together in a trite and very contrived setting entirely to amuse. There is another concern, and that is that they reinforce the concept of these birds making ideal and willing “pets”. In fact, they are very poorly suited to be companion animals, and the species featured (cockatoos, macaws and other larger parrots) are notoriously given to self-mutilation as a function of the stress imposed upon them by typical pet-keeping circumstances. This silly show should not continue.
I was also concerned about the condition of a domestic goat seen on the video provided. I am familiar, as a result of my investigations, with the manner in which petting zoos too often allow such animals to go hungry, or to be badly nourished by inadequate food, so that they will approach visitors for food purchased to the profit of the facility. The goat was clearly and alarmingly emaciated; a cruel abuse.
Finally, the tiger exhibited classic stereotypic pacing within his cage, again and again tracing the exact same path along the side of the cage’s interior. This indicates stress, and animal behaviour experts are essentially united in the opinion that such behavior indicates serious stress. I am further concerned that the caging poses a risk, most particularly to young children by virtue of inadequate barrier protection.
And no less than the parrots, the maintenance of a tiger in a cage contributes only negatively to either the serious cause of tiger conservation or education.”
Founding Director, Center for Great Apes, Florida, United States
“I viewed the video by Animal Equality and saw many things that we deal with everyday. Stereotypical behaviors such as rocking, scooting, swaying, making odd noises, and over-grooming resulting in loss of hair are frequently present in chimpanzees who have not had the benefit of being raised for their first five or six years by their own chimp mothers. I recommend that Schwaben Park stop their breeding program, and stop pulling infants from their mothers. Those coming to our sanctuary from entertainment (circuses, movies, advertisements)…. as well as those who were once kept as private ‘pets’ and raised as humans, usually develop some form of these abnormal behaviours.
I would hope that the young chimpanzee with the cough was under medical treatment with the veterinarian… they do catch colds from time to time and this could have been the result of a cold. But, it could also have been something much more severe.
The most disturbing things I noticed in the video were the circus-like show and the close proximity to the visitors. I recommend that Schwaben Park show be stopped immediately. To train these great apes to do these very unnatural behaviours is an issue in itself. The methods used to train and discipline a chimpanzee this size are often abusive and harsh. But even if the trainer used the kindest and most positive manner of training, the show does nothing at all to educate the public about the true nature of chimpanzees… their normal behaviours… and the crisis facing them in the wild as they become more and more endangered. In fact, dressing them up and making them perform like little pseudo-humans is archaic and disrespectful. These types of shows ended decades ago. The close access to the chimpanzees outside their exhibit cage is very alarming. People throwing in food to the chimps are also throwing in their germs from their hands… transmitting all kinds of bacteria and possible diseases. And throwing in the cigarette in was awful!“
Department of Sociology, Brock University, Canada
“I have reviewed the photographic and video evidence from Animal Equality’s investigation of captive chimpanzees at Schwaben Park in Germany. It is an extremely sad comment on human depravity that such medieval conditions should continue to exist in one of the most advanced countries in Europe. The daily show, in which the chimpanzees are required to dress in costume and perform various human activities, such as riding a toy car, answering the telephone and doing a slappy dance, merely provides audiences with an opportunity to laugh at these animals and removes their natural dignity. When not performing, the chimpanzees are kept in squalid conditions with few enrichments to hold the interest of these intelligent animals. Some are housed in close proximity to a small noisy train that transports visitors through the park. As a result of these conditions, the animals are extremely stressed, reduced to apathy and listlessness, huddled or engaged in repetitive rocking motions indicative of psychological breakdown. Several of the animals have open wounds and are suffering hair loss while others appear to have respiratory problems. Infants are separated from their mothers and kept on display with no opportunity to evade the constant gaze of visitors. Those visitors, apparently frustrated when the chimpanzees do not provide them with constant amusement, can be seen throwing objects at the animals and one man tosses a lit cigarette for a chimpanzee to smoke. A large and growing body of work in cognitive ethology demonstrates the mental complexity of chimpanzees and it is clear that conditions such as these are agonizing to them. Of course it is not merely their biological closeness to ourselves that should engage our ethical concern: alpacas, goats and a pair of tigers are also kept on display at the park for public amusement and it appears that these animals are also under stress. There can be no argument that any vital human purpose is served by keeping these animals on display and, indeed, such institutions only encourage the worst aspects of our own character.“