Stop Exploiting Chimpanzees in Advertising

Target: General Manager of Suburban Auto Group, Erinn Sowle

Goal: Stop using ads featuring chimpanzees abused by trainer.

A car dealer is still airing commercials featuring chimpanzees who were reportedly kicked and beaten by their trainer. Suburban Auto Group is still using its “Trunk Monkey” ads from 2003 showing a young chimpanzee who was provided by trainer Sid Yost, a notorious animal abuser. The USDA cited Yost multiple times, filing complaints for over 40 alleged violations to the Animal Welfare Act. According to the USDA, animals were routinely subjected to physical abuse at the hands of Yost and his employees. In 2009, Yost was observed striking monkeys, tigers and a lion with a stick, and his training team allegedly abused wolves and other animals.

Numerous reports reveal the abuse many animals endure when used in entertainment. Chimpanzees are no exception. Taken from their mothers shortly after birth, chimp “actors” are often brutally trained, mistreated, kept in solitary confinement and given no freedom to express natural behaviors. When they reach seven or eight years of age and become too strong and dangerous to handle, trainers typically abandon them to roadside zoos or other types of barren confinement. Chimpanzees can live to be over 60 years old and thus often languish for several decades held captive in poor facilities.

As far back as 2003, when the ads were made, Yost and his staff were witnessed beating young chimpanzees by a primatologist. Despite this fact becoming wildly known, Suburban Auto Group is still airing the commercials. Experts have explained that the wide grin visible in the videos may resemble a human smile but is actually a “fear grimace” expressing the chimp’s distress.

Considering they are an endangered species, chimpanzees deserve to be protected rather than exploited to sell cars. Furthermore, the use of chimps and other apes in the media puts these animals at great risk by trivializing their conservation plight and increasing the dangerous demand for them as “pets.”

While other dealers have recognized these facts and pulled their “Trunk Monkey” ads, Suburban Auto Group is still putting profits over animal welfare and refusing to replace its inhumane ads. Urge them to stop airing the commercial and replace them with an advertising campaign that does not exploit animals.


Dear Mrs. Sowle,

You are certainly aware of the abuse the chimpanzees featured in your “Trunk Monkey” ads endured at the hands of their trainer Sid Yost. Many other dealerships have stopped using these exploitative commercials, yet Suburban Auto Group continues to disregard these ads’ negative impact.

Yost and his team were cited multiple times by the USDA for over 40 violations to the Animal Welfare Act including severe physical abuse to animals. Trainers were observed beating and otherwise mistreating chimpanzees, monkeys, lions, tigers and wolves. Unfortunately, animals used in entertainment are often poorly treated and abused, as has been documented by numerous recent reports.

Chimpanzees in particular are endangered and should not be exploited to sell cars. Featuring them in commercials has the added negative effect of trivializing their conservation plight and feeding the high and dangerous demand for these animals as “pets.”

I urge you to stop airing your archaic and harmful “Trunk Monkey” commercials and to replace them with advertising campaigns that do not use or exploit animals.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Republica

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