A boycott of the fashion label Dolce & Gabbana is being urged by animal campaigners in protest at the use of a chimpanzee in its advertising.
The campaign group Animal Defenders International (ADI) has criticised the ads, which show the chimpanzee wearing a Seiko watch. Professor Roger Fouts, a primatologist at Central Washington University, spoke of his "shock", describing the creatureas "noticeably unhappy".
The campaign comes at a crucial time for primates in the UK. The 1976 Dangerous Wild Animals (DWA) Act is currently under review, and Defra is considering the "delisting" of several species of small primate. Animal sanctuaries fear this will make it easier and cheaper to buy them as pets. An early day motion tabled by Labour's Eric Martlew and signed by 88 MPs last week warned of "a significant increase in the trade" in primates. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) released its own report last week supporting this warning.
A long-term IFAW investigation into the trade in primates as pets found that between 1999 and 2002 more than 320 primates, including endangered cotton-top tamarinds, were advertised for sale in Cage & Aviary magazine. In one week in January 2005, 146 primates were for sale on 24 websites - including chimpanzees, a gibbon and a gorilla. Of 750 pet shops questioned, one in 15 was willing to source a "pet" primate, including endangered species. Many retailers did not ask to see the DWA licence required.
"Primates are cute as babies, but that changes enormously when they reach adolescence," said Gill Maltby of the Monkey Sanctuary Trust.
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