News from Sit. Stay. Read.

Funny chimps on TV no laughing matter

Chimps form strong family bonds that are severed when young chimps are used as actors. SOURCE: LINCOLN PARK ZOO

CareerBuilder is standing behind its controversial ad featuring business-suited chimps, scheduled to air during the Super Bowl this Sunday.

Animal advocates are speaking out, saying that those 30 seconds of viewer smiles can harm our closest primate relatives by severing them from maternal care, giving false perceptions about chimps as pets and undermining conservation efforts.

The chimps in the ad represent annoying co-workers whose pranks sabotage their colleagues' efforts. One way out and up is to post a resume and find a new job through the CareerBuilder website, the ad suggests.

"CareerBuilder supports the fair and humane treatment of all animals," noted the Chicago-based job search site in a statement. “During the production of our ad, we followed the strictest guidelines to ensure our chimpanzee stars were treated well and not harmed in any way. We hired top trainers known to provide the highest standard of care for their animals. We also had a member of animal rights group, the American Humane Association, on set during the entire filming to ensure the chimpanzees were treated with respect. This was very important to us.”

CareerBuilder has no plans to pull the ad, according to company spokesperson Jennifer Grasz. "Yes, our ad will run in the Super Bowl."

More than what happens on set

Experts are saying that the issue involves more than following care guidelines on sets, however.

"American Humane Association realizes that there are complex issues regarding the use of all wild animals, including primates, in filmed media and we endeavor to educate producers on these issues," said Jone Bouman, director of communications for the American Humane Association's Film & TV Unit. "However, while the animals are on the set, we ensure that they receive a very high standard of care and that no cruelty is ever used to accomplish a performance."

"We would argue that using chimps in this way is frivolous and impacts conservation," said Kathleen Conlee, senior director for animal research issues at the Humane Society of the United States.

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And the Oscar goes to the ... dogs?

As Oscar nominations rolled in this morning, the multiple nods to “War Horse” and “The Artist” left few surprises. But the two films have no nominees for Best Animal Actor.

Of course, this is probably because there is no such award offered by the academy, despite their scene-stealing antics and their chorus of supporters.

Known for work in several movies, including “Water for Elephants,” Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier in “The Artist” even has a Facebook page. With 8,724 "likes" and counting, the page is dedicated to seeing the pup’s name on an award.

Movieline editor S.T. VanAirsdale launched the "Consider Uggie" page late one night as a way to cure his own Oscar-season boredom, he said. The venture keeps garnering both positive and negative opinions for an animal-inclusive Oscar night where Uggie gets to take a bow - wow.

“The reality is that Oscar season sucks,” VanAirsdale said. “The minute that you can introduce some unexpected wrinkle to the project is the minute you can capture imagination.”

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Angry birds could give way to happy pigs

Now in development, 'Pig Chase' could provide pigs with a much-needed outlet for their curious minds. SOURCE: PLAYING WITH PIGS WEBSITE

A new game called 'Pig Chase,' being developed in the Netherlands, is intended to stimulate the minds and enrich the lives of some of the smartest members of the animal kingdom: pigs.

“Pigs are inherently known for being curious, playful and interactive,” said Suzzane McMillan, director of Farm Animal Welfare for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Unfortunately, when this natural inquisitiveness meets with the confined living conditions often found on farms, McMillan said boredom and frustration lead them to act out in ways that are dangerous to both themselves and others.

Designers and researchers from the Utrecht School of the Arts, Wageningen University and Wageningen UR Livestock Research are hoping to enrich the lives of the pigs and change the way people think about the animals behind their food. In the game, players will team up with real-life four-legged players that respond to the lights projected on the wall of their enclosure.

“Initially, the motivation was to create more interesting play materials for pigs, and this was something that the folks we collaborate with at the Wageningen University have been doing research on for a while,” said Kars Alfrink, one of the game’s designers.

The team has attempted to bring in as many perspectives as they can in the development of the game, including farmers.

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