A 2020 publicity stunt involving monkeys and major social media stars is being resurfaced.
Last November, a clothing brand called Bananas Monkey sent a monkey exhibitor to the homes of Los Angeles-based influencers such as Jeffree Star, James Charles, Chantel Jeffries and Daisy Keech. (Bananas Monkey is owned by a company called Blue Bird, which also owns Talentless, Scott Disick’s sweatpants and loungewear brand, according to a representative for Talentless.)
The exhibitor brought a baboon and a capuchin monkey for influencers to use as props for social media promotion of Bananas Monkey’s launch. Unsurprisingly, the incident prompted much online backlash, with social media users expressing upset over the treatment of the monkeys. Some were particularly ruffled about Star’s involvement, as his company, Jeffree Star Cosmetics, claims to be cruelty-free.
1. A company called Bananas Monkey sent around a baboon & another monkey with PR boxes for its launch to influencers
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) November 11, 2020
PETA notified the U.S. Department of Agriculture of the incident last year, citing “apparent violations of the Animal Welfare Act” in an email. The USDA proceeded to conduct an inspection in March. In the inspection report, a copy of which PETA shared with WWD, the USDA found that the monkey exhibitor, Kevin Keith, “did not adequately maintain direct control of the animals while they interacted with the public.”
“The animals were observed to be in physical contact with the public — shaking hands in the case of the baboon, and sitting on shoulders in the case of the capuchin — and the exhibitor did not have a hold of the animals, nor was he holding onto the end of their leashes during these encounters,” the report reads. “Failure to maintain direct control of nonhuman primates during physical contact with members of the public could result in physical harm to the people or animals involved.”
In a statement, PETA Foundation’s associate director of captive animal law enforcement Debbie Metzler urged influencers “to use their platforms to condemn animal exploitation, not enable it.”
“Monkeys used by exhibitors like Keith are taken from their mothers, carted around, coerced to perform and forced into one stressful encounter after another,” Metzler said.
WWD reached out to representatives for Star, Charles, Jeffries and Keech for comment, though none offered comment by press time.
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