Great apes are humans’ closest biological kin, but rather than being respected as the highly intelligent and complex individuals that they are, they have long been captured, abused, and exploited by humans primarily for the use of “entertainment.” Society has been conditioned to view these captive apes, many of whom are forced to do unnatural behaviors (like smoking or boxing) and wear human clothing, as humorous spectacles, and people usually do not stop to think about where exactly these apes come from.

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A recent investigative report by the New York Times gives a glimpse into the corrupt wildlife trade that is smuggling these great apes. Hunters in central Africa will hunt entire groups of apes, killing all of the adults so they can get their hands on a vulnerable baby, who they then sell to a trafficker for a few dollars. From here, these terrified animals are typically smuggled to Southeast Asia, where wildlife dealers use social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp to market and sell these precious animals to people all around the world for a hefty price (a baby gorilla can fetch around $250,000).

All great ape species and most gibbon species are classified as endangered, and the buying and selling of wild animals is illegal under international law. Zoos and other wildlife collectors are required to only obtain wild animals who have been bred in captivity, but in an industry so wrought with corruption and greed, documentation is regularly falsified.

A petition on Care2 has been written to make Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp crack down on these atrocious global crimes that are not only harming animals and greatly destroying biodiversity but are contributing greatly to other illicit violent crimes as well.

Please take a moment to sign this petition to make these social media sites take a stand against the wildlife trade and the brutal smuggling of endangered apes.

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There is great power in public opinion, so PLEASE share this with your network to increase awareness and support for this very serious cause.

Image Source: Pixabay