Primate welfare charities condemn use of a performing monkey in Pirates of the Caribbean 5
Wild Futures and campaign partners Humane Society International Australia, Born Free Foundation, and the Captive Animals' Protection Society and have raised serious concerns over rumours of the use of capuchin monkeys in the up-coming “Pirates of the Caribbean 5” film, which is due to start filming in Australia this month. The production team has requested approval from the Australian Government to import two capuchins for the filming, which animal welfare groups say will seriously compromise their welfare. The Australian Government has however not yet issued the necessary import permit.
In the well-known film sequels ‘Jack the monkey’ is the pet monkey owned by the black-hearted Captain Barbossa and is played by a capuchin monkey. Although it may appear that this monkey is having a blast playing ‘pirates’ on set to the untrained eye, it is widely agreed by experts and leading animal welfare charities that the use of wild animals in the entertainment industry is detrimental to both animal welfare and public attitudes to animals. Wild Futures run a sanctuary in Cornwall, England for monkeys rescued from the pet and entertainment industries and say that concerns go far beyond the treatment of the animals on set. The use of wild animals as actors is in many cases highly detrimental to welfare of the individuals involved in ways that can manifest throughout their lifetimes, while studies show that the use of wild animals as actors may even have a negative impact on the survival of animal populations in the wild, by increasing demand for that species as pets and by diminishing concern for their conservation in the wild. The organisations are encouraging the authorities to set Australia as an example for many other countries in this field.
Cordelia Britton, Wild Futures’ Campaigns Officer, said, “It is not too late for the Pirates of the Caribbean production team to commit to end the use of wild animals in the entertainment business. Capuchin monkeys naturally live in large family groups in the rainforests of South and Central America and have complex physical and psychological needs - a film set is no place for such an intelligent, social animal and the life of a monkey ‘actor’ is sadly far removed from the life they should have. With the technology currently available, fantastic films can be produced without the need to exploit animals.”
Alexia Wellbelove, Humane Society International Australia’s Senior Program Manager commented that, “The use of primates for entertainment is old fashioned and unnecessary particularly when it will involve a long journey from California to Queensland, Australia. We hope the Production team will listen to public opinion and refuse to import these monkeys to Australia.”
Nicola O’Brien, Director of the Captive Animals' Protection Society, said, “As well as serious welfare concerns, there is also evidence that the use of wild animals in films contributes to the trade in wildlife, damages conservation efforts and leads to trends in exotic pet ownership; which regularly ends in animals being abandoned in rescue centres and sanctuaries. We would call on the producers to set an example to the industry by not using this capuchin monkey or any other wild animal in their next film.”