"Wonderful Friends" Hunan TV and Chimelong Safari Park

"Wonderful Friends"

Orangutan Appeal UK condemns the use of infant great apes in the Chinese TV show called "Wonderful Friends" that has recently aired on Hunan TV. The show perpetuates the totally incorrect and damaging myth that young apes make for good pets. It features Chinese celebrities acting as intern zookeepers at Chimelong Safari Park. These celebrities are required to perform various tasks in attempting to ‘care’ for a host of animals including an infant orangutan and chimpanzee. In doing so the apes are subjected to a host of demeaning and stressful situations that bear no similarities to either a life in the wild or even within a stable captive group of its peers. The animals are dressed as humans, used as photo props and thrust into a variety of unnatural situations that leads them to exhibit overt signs of stress and anxiety, such as screaming and biting.

The domestic and international illegal pet trade for orangutans is already one of the main reasons why their numbers have fallen so dramatically in recent decades, so for a TV channel, with a viewership in the tens of millions, to be promoting these endangered animals as cute household pets is irresponsible in the extreme.  We therefore pledge our support to the growing coalition of international NGOs, scientists, conservationists, and concerned citizens to denounce the ongoing production of this and other similarly negligent shows on television elsewhere.

A far more important message to be portrayed in the media is the severity of the great apes’ decline in the wild, and that concerted conservation efforts must take place urgently to protect their habitats. We therefore ask our supporters to please use whatever platforms you have available (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.) to create your own methods for opposing Hunan TV and Chimelong Safari Park’s damaging portrayal of these traumatised animals.

Thank you