Celebrity influencers including James Charles and Jeffree Star are under fire for posing with live monkeys.
The influencers posted videos of themselves greeting capuchins and baboons after being sent the animals by clothing brand Bananas Monkey to promote their launch. They were met with instant backlash and accusations of enabling animal cruelty.
Other monkey recipients included reality star Michael Yerger and YouTuber Daisy Keech, who have since apologised for their involvement in the stunt.
Austin and Catherine McBroom, who run the controversial Ace family YouTube channel, have also promoted Bananas Monkey clothing (although they didn't include any live animals in their posts).
Because it is not yet clear who owns Bananas Monkey, most of the backlash to its method is currently aimed at its celebrity endorsers.
Despite claiming his cosmetics are cruelty free, Star has posed with an alligator to promote his makeup as well as the monkey.
Animal rights charity Peta also opposed the stunt.
A charity representative, Tara DiMaio, wrote in a blog post:
Clothing brand Bananas Monkey carted two live monkeys – a baboon named Mickey and a capuchin named Chiquita – to the Los Angeles homes of influencers. Videos posted on social media show this bizarre and cruel promotion stunt.
PETA submitted a complaint urging the US Department of Agriculture to investigate the incidents, as they’re apparent violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.
The use of baboons, the world's largest monkey, sparked particular confusion and outrage.
While capuchin monkeys generally weigh around 3kg, baboons can weigh up to 10 times that.
Another concern is that influencers posing with monkeys could potentially encourage their fans to buy pet monkeys and in doing so support the illegal wildlife trade.
Michael Keech responded to a request for comment from Indy100 on behalf of himself, and his girlfriend Daisy Keech. He said:
For myself and Daisy, it was one of those things that we didn’t really think about prior to sharing on our platforms. Our doorbell rang and we had monkeys outside of our door! We cherished the interaction with them before quickly realizing what we were entertaining and therefore supporting.
My grandfather, who lived in Africa for many years, dedicated a large part of his life trying to free silverback gorillas from zoos across the country. While his efforts didn’t ultimately result in them being freed, he still managed to provide them far better living conditions than ever before. Having a man like him as my grandfather has taught me many things about animals, nature, and the way we as humans should treat both.
So, I am ashamed to have supported or encouraged this behavior and we both apologize for carelessly posting.
Indy100 have also contacted James Charles and Jeffree Star and we will update you if they respond.