Developed and initiated by CAPS in coalition with a number of leading animal charities and NGOs, AnimalPledge.org was established in 2012. AnimalPledge.org is a scheme by which companies and individuals can learn about and commit to reducing their negative impact on animals as a result of their use in the entertainment industry.
The primary aim of the AnimalPledge.org is to raise awareness about the unseen suffering of animals used in the media. We do this by helping companies and individuals alike to learn more about what life is like for animal actors when the cameras are not rolling. An advert depicting a performing animal might take just days to film, with the final cut lasting less than a minute. For those fleeting moments on our screens, the animals portrayed might endure a lifetime of unnecssary suffering.
Marco was born in captivity in around 1984 and arrived at the Mona Foundation primate sanctuary in Spain in 2001. For over 17 years, before being rescued, Marco starred in many TV commercials that promoted many products, including telephone (Telefónica) and beer (Estrella Damm) companies. He was owned by a very well-known animal trainer in Spain who bred and trained many chimps to be used in the entertainment industry. Typically during the training process, the infant chimp is taken from the mother as soon as it is born and then the humanisation process begins resulting in the chimpanzee being deprived of the maternal care, which is essential for the infant to thrive physically and psychologically. This training and exploitation continues until adolescence at around 7 years of age when the chimpanzee becomes more unpredictable and difficult to handle. This is the stage when most chimpanzees end up locked away for the rest of their lives, often in cramped and inappropriate living conditions. Since chimpanzees can live for more than fifty years in captivity, this makes this practice even more disturbing.
Marco lived with his father and six other chimpanzees in an old dilapidated truck in Valencia. Within the truck each chimpanzee was housed individually in very small 2.5m2 cages in total darkness. The chimpanzees had no choice but to sit in their own faeces and leftover food. Marco spent the majority of his time inside the truck. In fact the only time he was any light of day was when he had to “star” in the commercials.
Today Marco is safe from exploitation and lives at the Mona Foundation primate sanctuary in Spain. His early experience from living in sub-standard living conditions have left him with psychological and physical problems. He suffers from heart problems likely resulting from poor nutrition. This was detected when he came to the sanctuary but this is kept under control with daily medication. Today Marco is the alpha male of the bachelor group and although he was humanised and trained to perform, 9 years on he is a fully rehabilitated and social individual who has gained the respect of his group. Today Marco is a well-adjusted and contented chimpanzee. However there are still many chimpanzees that are being used in the entertainment industry and there are very few that are fortunate enough to be rescued.
Visit the AnimalPledge.org website to find out more about the scheme and how you or your organisation can get involved.