This isn't Rise of the Planet of the Apes or King Kong, this is a new PETA US video narrated by actor Andy Serkis. It tells the story of Louis- a chimp who has lived by himself and away from his species in a roadside zoo in Michigan for six years- almost his entire life.
"Male chimpanzees like me usually stay with their families their entire lives, but I never even got to know mine", says Serkis, as Louie, in the video . "Share my story, and tell the DeYoung Family Zoo to release me to an accredited sanctuary where I'll finally be able to meet other chimpanzees and live the way I was meant to live. And please don't support businesses that keep animals like me behind bars. "
In an exclusive interview, Serkis revealed what made him want to take on the voice and role of Louie; "I've obviously over the years become very connected to stories and the lives of the great apes in our world, and this story really blew my mind", he says. "The fact [is] that here we have a chimpanzee shipped to a small family zoo, where he's now kept in a cage, completely isolated, unable to socialize, living a very lonely and miserable existence, and it just broke my heart. It's the same as treating a human being the same way - it really is."
In early November, PETA US sent a notice to the DeYoung Family Zoo - where Louie and a second chimpanzee, Tommy, are reportedly being kept in isolation. The notice warned the facility of its intent to sue under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This requires plaintiffs to inform potential defendants at least 60 days prior to legal action. In its letter, the group noted that preventing highly social primates the opportunity to lead active, stimulating lives and engage in species-specific behaviour violates the ESA. Coupled with this- allowing visitors to shout and stare at Louie is apparently another violation. The ESA reportedly states that it is unlawful for chimpanzees to be harmed or harassed.
PETA US - whose motto reads, in part, that "animals are not ours to use for entertainment" - has offered to transfer both chimpanzees to an accredited sanctuary at no cost to the DeYoung Family Zoo.
For more information, please visit PETA.org.uk.