Jane Goodall condemns viral video showing chimpanzee scrolling through social media

Jane Goodall condemns viral video showing chimpanzee scrolling through social media
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Renowned chimpanzee expert Dr. Jane Goodall this week condemned a viral video of a young chimpanzee scrolling through social media, arguing that it perpetuates the inappropriate handling of the animals and drives the illegal trade of chimpanzees as pets.

The video, which shows a young chimpanzee scrolling through Instagram, began circulating this week and quickly went viral, racking up more than 1.7 million views. Commenters called the video "legitimately incredible" and wrote that it was "so amazing how they are just like humans."

Goodall, however, released a statement through the Jane Goodall Institute that called the video “highly problematic.”

“I am very disappointed to see the inappropriate portrayal of a juvenile chimpanzee in this video which is currently circulating on social media,” Goodall said. “Chimpanzees are highly social animals, very intelligent and have complex emotions like humans – it is imperative that we portray them appropriately and that they receive the best possible care in captive environments.”

Her organization said the chimpanzee in the video is likely from a safari in South Carolina and claimed the safari has used animals inappropriately in the past.

The video was posted by influencer Mike Holston, known online as @therealtarzann. Holston describes himself as an animal education and conservation activist and has 5.3 million Instagram followers.

Other videos Holston has posted showcase a chimpanzee named Limbani who is “continuously inappropriately handled” and showcased on social media, Goodall's institute asserted, pointing to instances of the animal being brought out in public for paid appearances or dressed in clothing.

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“It is unclear why they continue to do this or how it is permitted, but it is certainly harmful to the long term psychological and physical needs of this young chimpanzee,” the institute wrote.

The Hill has reached out to Holston for comment.

Goodall wrote that portraying animals in this way on social media perpetuates the illegal pet trade of great apes.

Because they cannot be domesticated, “interactions with humans as displayed by this video are highly dangerous, as well as harmful to the well-being of the chimpanzee,” the English primatologist explained.

Such social media content also perpetuates the idea that chimpanzees “make cute pets.”

“Despite potentially benign intentions, it is part of the larger issue of social media videos and posts of this kind driving the illegal trade in chimpanzees and other great apes as pets,” the institute wrote. “This is not only causing them great individual suffering as they are often not cared for properly and then abandoned but is also stealing great apes (which are endangered) from the wild. 3,000 great apes are stolen from the wild every year.

The institute also warned humans against thinking they can handle or kiss chimpanzees and other wildlife, saying the apes can grow to be stronger and potentially aggressive.