Every now and then a video of a cute animal doing something cute goes viral and we have the horrible job of informing you all that it is, in fact, terrible.
Last year it was shower rat, the adorable Internet rat that likes to have people showers, but in actuality, had probably been trying to get some sort of irritant off its skin.
This year we regret to inform you that the video of a chimpanzee having a whale of a time on Instagram is also ghastly.
In case you’ve somehow missed it, this video has been making the rounds online.
The video shows a chimpanzee apparently expertly scrolling through Instagram looking at adorable animal videos just like humans do.
But some people have been conflicted about it (rightly so as it turns out).
Largely, people are finding it cute and/or (oh god) “relatable”.
Enjoy it one last time, untainted by the knowledge of why it is terrible and why you should feel bad for sharing it.
OK, done? Then sit down because we have bad news. Primatologists are not happy with it at all, as Motherboard first reported.
The behavior seen in the video is unnatural to the animals, and helps to encourage the illegal pet trade.
“This is an awful portrayal of a captive live juvenile chimpanzee,” the Jane Goodall Institute said in a statement about the video.
“The behavior demonstrated would not be considered a natural behavior for wild infant chimpanzees. Play and tool use, as Dr. Goodall discovered, is common in chimpanzees – but in the case of chimpanzees in inappropriate captive environments being introduced to behaviors they would not typically demonstrate, there is a large amount of research around how that may cause detrimental long-term effects to the individual animal.”
Jane Goodall herself said that she hoped people would stop uncritically sharing the video, because of how damaging it is to the animals.
“I am very disappointed to see the inappropriate portrayal of a juvenile chimpanzee in this video which is currently circulating on social media,” she said, pointing out that chimpanzees are intelligent, social animals with complex emotions and should be portrayed appropriately, and treated with the best possible care in captive environments.
“Portraying chimpanzees in this way on social media [perpetuates] the illegal pet trade in great apes, and as they cannot be domesticated, interactions with humans as displayed by this video are highly dangerous, as well as harmful to the well-being of the chimpanzee.”
Chimps kept as pets in inappropriate environments can become highly dangerous, and have been known to bite fingers off and cause severe damage to peoples’ faces.
Goodall pleads for people to behave responsibly, refusing to like and share the video, and for media coverage to highlight the irresponsibility and cruelty of producing this type of video by people who have chimps in their care. “[J]oin those of us who are working to end the cruel treatment of chimpanzees in entertainment,” she said.
The video likely came from Myrtle Beach Safari Wild Encounters, the Institute suggests. This isn’t the first time it has produced videos of chimpanzees in inappropriate environments displaying behaviors they wouldn’t naturally do in the wild. In 2016 they shared a widely criticized video of a chimp wearing a VR headset, unaware of what it was experiencing and possibly in distress.
So if you care about animals, look again at ones that “star” in videos, before you immediately respond. And next time you see one like this, don’t share it. Or at least only share it to point out to others why it’s probably not what it seems.