Unimpressed with the decision to allow monkeys into Australia to film some pirate movie, in the interests of animal welfare, Katherine Quinn pushes for the use of CGI instead of live animals.


Chunmum the monkey is set to become a very wealthy simian!

His Indian owners have arranged their wills so that he will be the sole heir to their fortune. It must be very comforting to the Lucknow couple to know that Chunmum will continue to enjoy Chinese food in his lovely air-conditioned room with his simian “wife” Bitti in the manner to which he has become accustomed.

To be fair, making arrangements for what happens to your dependent animals when you’re no longer around is part of being a responsible pet-owner, but this case only serves to highlight issues around animal welfare and the despicable cruelty of keeping monkeys as pets.

Primates are wild animals. They have complex psychological needs that can’t be met in captivity – not even by annual wedding anniversary parties. To “humanise” them and keep them as pets inflicts damage and suffering, and the entertainment industry is just as guilty of this.

This month, two capuchin monkey “actors” will arrive in Queensland to begin filming the next instalment in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise.

The Humane Society International Australia, the Captive Animals Protection Society and Wild Futures all condemned the move, considering the journey from California to Queensland harmful to the capuchins’ health. That’s not hard to imagine – even with free alcohol and in-flight entertainment, long haul flights are an ordeal for any human. I’m not sure how monkeys travel on planes, but I suspect it’s in a crate rather than up the front enjoying an eight-course tasting menu in their complimentary pyjamas.

Unfortunately, animal welfare issues were never going to outweigh the potential income generated by the movie production, so the Queensland government dutifully amended its legislation to allow the white-headed capuchins into the State, where previously it was a pest.

Being an “actor” is so far removed from the life these intelligent and social creatures should be living. When we exploit monkeys for our own entertainment, public attitudes towards them become much worse. Surely in this day and age we can use technology to achieve the same level of amusement instead of exploiting animals?

Seeing animals on screen also increases demand for them as pets. Honestly, how many of us have watched PotC without wanting our own Jack the Monkey? Sadly, the flow on effect from this is that it encourages illegal trade in wild animals and more issues around animal welfare.

So when you go along to enjoy Pirates of the Caribbean 5, as millions around the world will, spare a thought for Jack. Instead of being “trained” to provide us humans with mindless entertainment, surely he’d prefer to be frolicking with his capuchin family in the rainforests of Central America?

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