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Florida Chimpanzee Sanctuary explains Hollywood's positive shift away from use of real animals in movies

Posted at 1:06 PM, Aug 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-08 13:32:02-04

When watching popular TV shows and films like the Umbrella Academy or Jordan Peele's latest film Nope, you may notice one of the stars is a chimpanzee, but this one is a computer-generated image, or CGI.

For years, many big productions would use real animals to star in their films, but as the Director of Chimpanzee Behavior and Care at Save the Chimps Andrew Halloran says, they're steering away from that.

"The major studios do not use chimps so much anymore, but it still happens occasionally, and monkeys still get used quite a bit," Halloran said. "For chimpanzees that are in movies they have a number of issues. They may have been kept as pets. They may have been isolated from other chimpanzees, and they really haven't been able to do what we would consider 'thriving' as a chimpanzee."

Save the Chimps is one of the largest chimpanzee sanctuaries in the world, with a mission to provide refuge and exemplary care to chimpanzees in need.

Many of the 229 residents at Save the Chimps were discarded by productions. For example, Tonka, the celebrated chimp from “George of the Jungle”, ended up at the sanctuary in June after years of solitary confinement when he grew too strong to be used in productions.

"Chimpanzees, like us, are an extremely cognitive species. They're an extremely social species and when that gets deprived to them it does immeasurable damage," Halloran said. "What we do at Save the Chimps is work with them to help them get to a place with they can thrive."

Halloran said many of those discarded by Hollywood find the resilience to lead happy lives in retirement at Save the Chimps after being carefully socialized and integrated by our primatologist and care staff.

The 150-acre sanctuary is home to 12 chimpanzee families totaling 221 residents in 12 separate families, living on separate islands. This gives the chimpanzees choices and control over their own lives, something many of our residents had never experienced. An enriched outdoor environment allows them to roam, visit with friends, bask in the sun, or curl up in the shade. These freedoms provide them with the dignified and peaceful retirement they deserve.

To learn more about Save the Chimps here.