Hallmark has finally stopped selling greeting cards featuring smiling chimpanzees, eight years after PETA exposed how chimpanzees were “exploited and imprisoned” at the Missouri Primate Foundation.
The announcement was made earlier this month. It means Hallmark has joined other card companies, including American Greetings, and major retailers, including CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Walmart, in banning harmful depictions.
PETA held rallies near the company’s headquarters in Kansas City, ran ads and enlisted the help of celebrities, including actress Judy Greer, to embarrass Hallmark into toeing the line.
According to the animal rights nonprofit, their mission was also supported by tens of thousands of fans who wrote letters to Hallmark.
They also claimed that Hallmark faced pressure from pharmacies that had stopped selling the controversial cards.
Connor is a chimp who had been one of their star chimps who appeared on several of Hallmark’s greeting cards, but has now been abandoned after a lobbying campaign by PETA.
Connor was in costume and given props during the card company’s photo shoots, angering animal rights activists.
Connor is seen smiling on a sofa, but campaigners insist the exploitation of chimpanzees for greetings cards is no laughing matter.
Although consumers were unaware of the abuse and terrible conditions these great apes lived in at the Missouri Primate Foundation before PETA shut it down in 2021.
Many of the chimpanzees were imprisoned at the facility for more than 20 years.
In 2016, People Ethical Treatment for Animals released a video of their research revealing the horrific conditions in which chimpanzees lived, titled: “Signature Benefits of Abused Chimpanzees.”
The researchers showed images of the chimpanzees kept in small cages filled with feces and garbage at the facility.
PETA described the Missouri Primate Foundation as “ground zero in the United States for the cruel trade in chimpanzees as primate ‘pets’ and for entertainment purposes.”
One of the sixteen chimpanzees imprisoned at the facility was a chimpanzee named Connor, who had been a part of Hallmark photo shoots since childhood. He languished in the facility until he was rescued by the animal rights organization.
The chimpanzee’s toothy grin and goofy poses were featured prominently on several Hallmark cards. In some images he is seen holding an accessory, in other photos he is dressed in a costume.
But the way he was treated was no laughing matter, PETA said.
According to the animal rights team, the cards were sold in more than 40,000 stores nationwide, but consumers who purchased them were unaware that Connor was being stored in a cage where he was exposed to cockroach and fly infestations.
In the video, the chimpanzees were seen in distress while the dogs roamed freely barking at the animals. Many of the chimpanzees pulled out their hair out of psychological distress, the group claimed.
Another chimpanzee named Tammy, who had been used for breeding and had lived at the Missouri Primate Foundation for more than 20 years, had been abused.
A witness told PETA that when her babies were taken away from her, Tammy would scream, destroy her cage, and refuse to eat for days.
A chimpanzee at the Missouri Primate Foundation with a chain around its neck.
The animals were kept in small cages that were infested with flies and cockroaches, garbage and feces.
Sixteen chimpanzees lived at the facility (many were born and raised there) before PETA rescued them and relocated them to an animal sanctuary in Florida. One such sanctuary is Save the Chimps.
The trademark toothy smile for which Connor was known, and which appeared on many cards celebrating birthdays and holidays, was not an expression of delight, PETA said, but a grimace indicating fear and stress.
“Clownish images of chimpanzees dressed in costumes and displaying a ‘scared grimace,’ which the public is fooled into mistaking for a smile, impede conservation efforts by leading consumers to believe that the species is thriving rather than in decline.” danger,” the animal rights agency said. saying.
A serious concern of the group was that the images depicted were driving black market demand for chimpanzees as “pets” which they claimed were a major threat to wild populations.
One of those chimpanzees was Travis, who was born at the Missouri Primate Foundation.
Travis was sold as someone’s pet, but was later killed after escaping his cage and violently attacking a Connecticut woman named Charla Nash, ripping off her face and hands.
That tragic incident made international headlines, and Nash subsequently received a successful face transplant and a failed hand transplant.
During Connor’s final Hallmark photo shoot, PETA said he reportedly became so agitated that he bit his coach, overturned tables, and tried to attack other people on set.
In 2021, five years after his exhibit, Connor, along with many of the other chimpanzees, were rescued and relocated to an animal sanctuary, and the Missouri Primate Foundation was closed for good.
One of the sanctuaries was Save the Chimps, one of the largest chimpanzee sanctuaries in the world located in Fort Pierce, Florida. There the animals roam freely, climb and are treated humanely.
PETA Foundation Primatologist and Director of Captive Animal Welfare Debbie Metzler said, “PETA is celebrating this victory for chimpanzees, who should never be exploited as models or props.”
“Hallmark’s decision to stop mocking endangered great apes recognizes that depictions have power, and for chimpanzees threatened with extinction, it can be a matter of life and death,” he further stated.
DailyMail.com has contacted Hallmark for comment.