Statement against the inappropriate rearing and exhibition of chimpanzees

Content published: July 18, 2016

On July 16, 2016, there was a report that a chimpanzee infant, named “Purin", made a stage debut at "Miyazawa Theater." (www.sankei.com) The report claimed that Purin appeared on a ride, to quote "Mr. Miyazawa said Purin is more than perfect, and has the potential to be a star. I want her to become an initiator to attract tourists to Aso."

In November 2015, "Support for African/Asian Great Apes (SAGA)" published a statement against the inappropriate artificial rearing of Purin, born on September 22 2015, at Aso Cuddly Dominion. This statement appeared on our website and was sent to the Director of Aso Cuddly Dominion, Mr. Eiji Kamiyama.

We have also issued statements against the inappropriate use of great apes in the entertainment industry on three previous occasions December 2006, October 2007, and November 2012. In these past statements, we have repeatedly stated the following:

Inappropriate care of chimpanzees, especially through artificial rearing, results in serious problems in their social development. It is highly inappropriate to train a chimpanzee for an entertainment show in this anthropomorphic way. It is particularly problematic to isolate the infant from the other chimpanzees. It is far better, for both public education and for the chimpanzee, to show the natural life of an infant chimpanzee living with its mother and friends. This give an important message to the public.

Regardless of our previous claims, the current situation has arisen, and the repeated appearances of Purin on a TV program suggests that the inappropriate care and training that have been used in order to have Purin perform on stage, still continues. We, SAGA members, express strong concern about the acts taking place in Cuddly Dominion. Further, in the Miyazawa Theater, there has been an accident that resulted in injury to a person during the animal show. We suspect that this accident was caused by the unnatural training of an 11-year-old male chimpanzee to behave like a human for the show. We are worried that similar accidents will occur in the future if the current situation continues.

Chimpanzees are endangered wild animal and are listed in CITES Annex I (species in danger of extinction). They are also listed as EN (endangered) by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In Japan, chimpanzees are listed as a species belonging to Hominid in the Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Act and the Welfare and Management of Animals Act. In 2013, the following was added to the Conservation Act, that every person shall “enhance scientific knowledge of the animal and plant species applicable to this law". Also, in the Animal Welfare Act, it is clearly stated that "every person shall treat animals properly by taking into account their natural habits".

The International Primatological Society (IPS) prohibits the use of nonhuman primates in the entertainment industry, including appearing on shows. Such international standards should also be complied with in our country. The presentation of Purin on this show distorts the public perception of chimpanzees and obstructs the promotion and public understanding of the social nature of chimpanzees. It gives the incorrect impression that chimpanzees can be reared as pets. We strongly protest the appearance of chimpanzee Purin in the Miyazawa Theater and urge all the staff to promptly deal with it.

July 18, 2016
Support for African/Asian Great Apes
(Transleted in English with assistance of Dr. Anna Wilkinson)