Fist-Bumping Chimpanzee Stolen From His Mother and Exploited by Clout Chasers

Published by Zachary Toliver.

This video of a fist-bumping chimpanzee has made the rounds all over Twitter. While some viewers may think it’s “cute,” PETA thinks everyone would feel different if they knew this primate’s story.

The chimpanzee is believed to be a male named Sugriva. That name may ring a bell. Earlier this year, we let readers know how the notorious roadside zoo Myrtle Beach Safari exploits him on a regular basis for social media clout.

If you’re unfamiliar with Sugriva’s story, he was torn away from his mother as an infant—like most primates used for entertainment and encounters with humans. In his early years, trainers likely kept him under the constant threat of physical punishment in order to ensure that he “performed” whenever humans wanted him to.

Throughout his entire life, he’s been paraded around as though he were nothing more than a prop for publicity stunts.

Myrtle Beach Safari treats its animals like inanimate party equipment. Handlers have used Sugriva as a photo prop for tourists at a mall, passing him along from stranger to stranger. His brother, Vali, has even been forced to “play football” with an NFL athlete in one Instagram video.

Experiences like these are unnatural and likely confusing and frightening for a young chimpanzee who should be living in the forest with his family. At Myrtle Beach Safari, these animals have no choices or free will. Their lives are valued only relative to how much money they bring in for the roadside zoo.

For decades, PETA has worked to shut down the sleazy Myrtle Beach Safari. We want the numerous exotic animals held there to be moved to reputable sanctuaries.

Operator and owner Bhagavan “Doc” Antle has a long history of violating the federal Animal Welfare Act, including by endangering the public and by failing to provide animals with needed veterinary care, sufficient cage space, and clean water. He’s also been cited for keeping animals in dangerous, dilapidated enclosures. In 2014, he came under fire from PETA for a shameless—and dangerous—stunt in which he took two chimpanzees to a screening of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Refuse to give money to anyone who would exploit animals in cheap, publicity-driven stunts.

Myrtle Beach Safari is just one of countless roadside zoos that abuse animals for harmful hands-on encounters, photo ops, and clout-chasing videos. PETA urges everyone to stay away from animal circuses, roadside zoos, and all other operations in which animals suffer for the gain of cruel people.

Want to do more? Help PETA save other animals who, like Sugriva, are forced to interact with humans under the constant threat of beatings and whippings:

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind