Hallmark Cards, the world’s largest greeting card company based in Kansas City, Missouri, US, has stopped producing and selling cards featuring harmful and degrading images of chimpanzee infants who were torn away from their mothers. This comes after animal rights organisations such as PETA have been protesting about this speciesist practice. PETA held demonstrations near the company’s headquarters, ran creative ads, and enlisted the help of celebrities, including Judy Greer, to write heartfelt letters.

In a press release, PETA said, “Our conscientious supporters sent tens of thousands of e-mails to the card company, which also faced pressure from drug stores and retailers that had stopped selling these cards. Clownish images of chimpanzees dressed in costumes and displaying a ‘fear grimace,’ which the public is fooled into mistaking for a grin, impede conservation efforts by leading consumers to believe that the species is thriving rather than endangered. They also may drive the black-market demand for the animals as ‘pets’—one of the main threats to their populations in nature.”

Hallmark was the last major US card manufacturer still selling cards with exploitative images of great apes. It now joins other card companies, including American Greetings; major retailers, such as CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and Walmart; and stock-image agencies, such as Dreamstime and Shutterstock, in banning the harmful depictions. 

Unfortunately, there has been a long tradition of exploiting animals for advertisement, We see all sorts of animals used in TV commercials because using them is legal in most countries. Although general animal protection legislation (such as the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in the UK or the federal Animal Welfare Act in the US) applies to the use of animals in films and TV, most countries do not have any specific legislation for this matter — and for the ones that do have it, it tends to focus on registering the training and use of the animals, rather than prohibiting any animal for being used in adverts. This is something animal rights organisations have been campaigning against for years. However, the issue of using captive wild animal images in greeting cards is often forgotten, but it seems that PETA, which often tackles animal rights issues that others have not addressed yet, has not forgotten it. 

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.