Hilton Apologizes for Great Ape Selfies in Middle East After GRASP Critique
Celebrity socialite Paris Hilton apologized this week for posing for photographs with orphaned chimpanzees and orangutans, following public criticism from the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP).
“I do agree with what they’re saying,” Hilton told People magazine.
GRASP had criticized Hilton, reality TV star Khloe Kardashian, footballer James Rodriguez, singer Beyonce, comedian Conan O’Brien and others for posting photographs of themselves with captive great apes, which studies indicate lessens the general public’s conservation concern.
“It’s an ignorant, selfish act that shows little regard for the real situation these orangutans and chimpanzees find themselves in, and the damage done to conservation projects is considerable,” said GRASP coordinator Doug Cress. “To think that the millions of fans of Paris Hilton or Khloe Kardashian or James Rodriguez now find this behaviour acceptable undoes years of hard work by legitimate conservation programmes. Every orangutan selfie is like taking five steps back in the past.”
Hilton, who posted photos of herself cuddling apes in the United Arab Emirates, said she did not mean to offend.
“I’m an animal lover,” she said. “I have friends who actually rescue [captive] animals from these places and they can’t be put back in the wild. So these are animals that have actually been rescued. I just did it because I love animals.”
But Cress said that great apes rescued or confiscated from illegal trade are meant to be cared for in accredited rehabilitation centres, not dressed up in human clothing and treated like toys.