Wildlife Filmmaker Joins PETA Push Against American Greetings

For Immediate Release:
March 11, 2021

Contact:
Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Cleveland – Emmy Award–winning wildlife documentary producer Chris Palmer—who has written two books on the ethics of photographing wild animals—sent a letter on PETA’s behalf to Joe Arcuri, the CEO of Cleveland-based American Greetings, urging him to end the company’s sale of cards that feature “inappropriate, inaccurate, and unethical” images of great apes, such as chimpanzees wearing costumes or holding hands with humans.

“Such images impede conservation efforts because they lead people to believe that great apes are not endangered when in fact they are,” writes Palmer. “These portrayals also increase the black market demand for apes as pets, which, as I am sure you know, is one of the main forces driving them toward extinction.”

Palmer has won two Emmy Awards and received an Oscar nomination for his wildlife films for IMAX and primetime television. His book Shooting in the Wild—which pulls back the curtain on the dark side of wildlife filmmaking, revealing an industry undermined by sensationalism, fabrication, and animal abuse—was described by Jane Goodall as “a very important and much-needed book.” He is a media and film professor at American University in Washington, D.C.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Palmer’s letter to Arcuri follows.

Dear Mr. Arcuri,

I’ve devoted my career to producing wildlife films, winning Oscar nominations and Emmys, and have written two books on the ethics of photographing wild animals.

I’m writing to you because of the American Greetings cards that feature chimpanzees and other endangered great apes. As I’m sure you know, chimpanzees and orangutans are at risk of extinction, and I would be deeply grateful to you if you could use your influence to help prevent that extinction by ending the sale of cards that feature inappropriate, inaccurate, and unethical images of them.

Such images impede conservation efforts because they lead people to believe that great apes are not endangered when in fact they are. Inaccurate, damaging images of great apes include those that depict the animals wearing clothing or accessories, displayed in a studio or other human environments, or engaging in unnatural behavior and interactions with humans, such as holding hands or being held. These portrayals also increase the black market demand for apes as pets, which, as I am sure you know, is one of the main forces driving them toward extinction.

If you were to take this step, you would be in good company. Chase Bank, Pfizer, TELUS, and Capital One have adopted policies that prohibit the use of wild animals in their ads, and the majority of top ad agencies—including BBDO, Ogilvy, and McCann—have banned the use of great apes. Top stock-image agencies like Getty Images, Shutterstock, and Dreamstime are banning inappropriate images of nonhuman primates. In addition, Moonpig dropped all images of captive great apes.

I would be grateful if American Greetings would follow the new standard set by top corporations by retiring all unnatural, unethical, damaging, and inappropriate images of chimpanzees and other great apes used on its cards.

Thank you for considering this request.

All best wishes,

Professor Chris Palmer

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