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Magic Show for a Monkey

All right, it’s not really a monkey, it’s a chimp. But here we get to see a full fucking TEN MINUTES of a low-rent magician tricking a chimpanzee with simple magic. The chimpanzee is repeatedly freaked out by the tricks, and the large audience is equally delighted by how much smarter we are than a chimpanzee.  Wow.

As funny as I think this video is, there’s a dark side to it – and it may be strange to bring it up here, but, oh well. I personally oppose the use of chimpanzees (or any other ape) in any sort of entertainment endeavors – whether it be movies, circuses, or stage shows. ALL chimps that you see in shows are young/adolescent chimps. And they usually live lives surrounded by humans, and they think of these people as their family. But when chimps get older they become unpredictable and, just as important, eight times as strong as a human being, and they need to be “retired” – sent away to some sanctuary or roadside zoo. The trainers will then replace them with new, young chimps. These retired adults then feel confused and abandoned and sometimes out of place surrounded by other chimps as opposed to human beings. So it’s not so surprising that they get kind of fucked up and eat someone’s face/scrotum every once in a while.

Anyway, every time I see a trained chimp I know that it’s going to have a few good years of showmanship only to live the majority of its life in a likely sad and uneasy state. They’re so similar to us genetically, and relatively so intelligent, it just doesn’t seem right to treat them in that way. A tiger or a lion will likely forget about the people who raised them – a chimpanzee probably never will.

I guess I just sort of ruined everything tat was potentially funny about the video above!

For those of you who really want to hear a harrowing story about what it’s like for one of these chimps in particular, check out the second half of this This American Life Podcast “The Parent Trap”.

Thanks once again to the folks at the great WTF Japan Seriously? for the above video.

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  • Paultera

    Lancelot Link? I forgot that existed. Now I have to find it.

  • CinemaJunkie

    I want to get a Humanzee tattoo…

  • Bob Mussolini

    Says the man who made a movie called “Humanzee.”

  • Also, let me make clear – I think there are chimps in captivity in certain zoos that are perfectly happy. I’m not against that – it’s simply the performing chimps that I have a problem with. As far as aquatic mammals go, it seems to be difficult to keep them in captivity at all with their well-being in mind.

  • John – I totally agree.

  • Imagine how fucked up the lives of those chimps that were in “Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp” must have been. BTW, slightly related, ALL aquatic mammals should be set free. The death of that killer whale trainer recently shows that these magnificent animals deserve to be in the wild and not in underwater cages (aquariums). I feel bad for the woman that died, but I feel just as bad (if not worse) for the killer whales, dolphins, etc.