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Puma attacked over use of baby chimp in TV commercial

LONDON – A coalition of leading animal protection groups have called on German sportswear brand Puma to pull its new TV ad, which features a young chimpanzee dressed in a nappy.

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More than 30 international animal protection groups, including the RSPCA, Captive Animals Protection Society and primate conservationist Dr Jane Goodall, have signed a letter to Puma expressing their disapproval and calling for the ad, which was made in-house, to be pulled.

Goodall, who has spent her life studying and campaigning for apes, said: "Chimpanzees and other apes suffer horribly for society's entertainment.

"Performing chimps are frequently abused during training and typically only 'work' until the age of seven. Once these animals reach adolescence and become too strong and aggressive to be used, they spend the rest of their lives in poor captive conditions."

Craig Redmond, campaigns officer for CAPS, added: "Many companies have come to realise that exploiting great apes in commercials is not good for their corporate image."

In May this year, animal right group CAPS condemned an ad, created by M&C Saatchi for the Portman Group, which used performing chimpanzees to tell young people not to be "drunken monkeys". The ad was pulled before broadcast.

CAPS has a record of having ads pulled after applying pressure and has complained in the past about a spot for Grolsch, which the brewer pulled in February 2002.

Last year, Halfords backed down in the war of words with CAPS and agreed not to use chimpanzees in its television advertising again following a campaign created by Abott Mead Vickers BBDO.

A Puma spokeswoman said: "Puma has taken great care, before and during the filming of the advertising, to ensure the well-being and safety of the chimpanzee. The agency that provided the chimpanzee for the spot is very reputable. The chimpanzee has been given incredible care throughout both his career in commercials and his life with his human parents. As we were told, his parents adopted him after his mother died and they have raised him from a baby.

"The American Humane Society attended the photoshoot. We also, of course, had the animal's trainer managing his activities the entire time -- as an integral member of the team."

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