After several videos of chimpanzees scrolling through Instagram went viral this past week, activist and primatologist Jane Goodall has spoken out against the irresponsibility of such videos.
Several of the videos were shared by Mike Holston, an Instagram influencer whose tag is @TheRealTarzann.
On his profile, Holston describes himself to his over 5 million followers as an animal educator and conservationist.
Holston often generates viral content by showing chimpanzees displaying borderline human behavior like scrolling on phones or wearing clothes.
However, Jane Goodall, who's dedicated her life to the understanding and protection of primates, believes videos like these only hurt chimpanzees in the long run.
Through her institute, Goodall released a statement saying:
"I am very disappointed to see the inappropriate portrayal of a juvenile chimpanzee in this video which is currently circulating on social media."
She went on to say:
"Chimpanzees are highly social animals, very intelligent and have complex emotions like humans — it is imperative that we portray them appropriately and that they receive the best possible care in captive environments."
Goodall's institute describes the ways in which videos like these are harmful to chimpanzees, from downplaying the dangers of humans interacting with chimps, to portraying them as pets "which contributes to their illegal trade."
The world-renowed primatologist took specific aim at Holston, who often poses in photos with a chimp named Limbani, who lives at the Zoological Wildlife Foundation in Miami. Goodall wrote of the Instagram photos:
"[Limbani is] often dressed in clothing, interacting with humans, all to promote the brand of this influencer and this establishment. It is unclear why they continue to do this or how it is permitted, but it is certainly harmful to the long term psychological and physical needs of this young chimpanzee."
Holston has also posted video of a pair of chimps from Myrtle Beach Safari, who often post videos of their primates using technology like the one in Holston's viral video.
On top of warning about the risks of spreading disease, Goodall's statement also teased other dangers:
"Chimpanzees also grow to be larger, stronger and potentially aggressive — putting humans and chimpanzees in danger. We cannot let examples of this lead the public to interact with wildlife/captive animals in this manner — only experts and professionals should be handling chimpanzees."
The institute wrote about how use of cell phones and other similarly human objects isn't natural to a chimp's development and could have harmful effects on their mental growth. According to Buzzfeed, some research even shows evidence that chimpanzees in captivity can "develop mental illnesses like depression and PTSD."
Goodall's message concludes:
"And I hope and urge the people who have chimpanzees in their care will cease use of him in this way and join those of us who are working to end the cruel treatment of chimpanzees in entertainment."