Shutterstock Bans Images Of Ape And Monkey “Actors”

Posted on 12/18/2017 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

After PETA (People For Ethical Treatment Of Animals) pointed out that monkeys and great apes suffer immensely when used for photo shoots—and that images of these animals in unnatural settings can harm conservation efforts and bolster the illegal wildlife trade—Shutterstock agreed to remove and ban all such photographs and videos of these species from its collection as well as from those of its subsidiary Bigstock.
Shutterstock will no longer allow photographs and videos that feature monkeys or apes in the following situations:
  • Wearing clothing or accessories, such as hats or sunglasses
  • Shown in a studio setting or human environment, such as an office or a circus
  • Exhibiting trained or unnatural behavior types, such as dancing or performing
  • Engaged in unnatural interactions with humans, such as holding hands or being held
Images of apes or monkeys in the wild that have been digitally altered to place them in any of the unnatural situations listed above are also banned. Photographs of these animals in zoos or living free in natural habitats or in Asian cities (for example, macaques who inhabit temples) will still be allowed.

"By banning unnatural images of exploited ape and monkey 'actors,' Shutterstock has made a huge difference for nonhuman primates, both those in the wild and those suffering in captivity," says PETA Primatologist Julia Gallucci. "Ad agencies and film and television producers have already moved away from using these harmful images, and we hope other stock-photo providers follow Shutterstock's lead."
In its letter to the company, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that "animals are not ours to use for entertainment"—pointed out that the "grin" exhibited by chimpanzees is actually a "fear grimace" and that physical abuse during training is typical. Great apes used in these images are typically torn away from their mothers shortly after birth, causing lifelong psychological trauma to both mother and infant. When they reach adolescence, trainers discard them in substandard facilities where they're often kept alone in small cages for decades.
A number of studies show that the inaccurate portrayal of apes in the media hinders conservation efforts and may also increase the demand for these dangerous animals as "pets."

Copyright © 20817 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Ben Williamson Posted Dec 18, 2017
    Thank you Jim. And Thank you Shutterstock. This move is a reflection of changing industry standards, as well as a sea change in public opinion: consumers are more aware than ever of the suffering that wild animals endure when used for any form of entertainment.

Post Comment

Please log in or create an account to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive email notification when new stories are posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
If you’re a photographer that counts on the licensing of stock images to provide a portion of your annual income the following are a few stories you should read. In the past decade stock photography ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More

More from Free Stuff