Hallmark card featuring 'smiling' chimpanzee draws calls for removal from PETA

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) -- Animal-rights activist group PETA is calling for greeting card giant Hallmark to remove Chimpanzee greeting cards from the shelves.

PETA says what appears as a smile is actually a look of fear, caused by making chimpanzees "perform unnatural types of behavior that distress and confuse them."

Kathleen Mackey spent her Thursday at the Kansas City Zoo checking out the chimp exhibit. She said she thought the card is cute the intended message might be a misunderstanding.

"Just because it looks like something we might look like when we're happy, that doesn't mean that they're happy," Mackey said.

PETA claims Hallmark uses photos of chimpanzees from the Missouri Primate Foundation, or Chimparty, which has been cited by the USDA as recently as January what PETA called "violating the Animal Welfare Act." READ: Chimparty USDA Inspection Report

Mackey said, "It's not okay for any company to do harmful or unethical things just for a picture."

FOX 4 spoke with Shawn Sweeney Thursday. Sweeney is a media spokesperson for theJane Goodall Foundation. He said if a chimpanzee is wild, the look could be a "fear grin." In the entertainment industry, that grin is achieved through training and that's where there is concern. Sweeney said there is no regulation around that training and that it could be done in ways that are harmful to the animals.

"We stand with other organizations that oppose that use of the chimpanzees. We want to clarify our concerns about the training, but that makes us no less passionate about the welfare of the animals," Sweeney said.

Mackey believes the foundation is a credible source.

"I love Jane Goodall so if she says it's no good, then I wouldn't buy it based on her word," she said.

Hallmark didn't return FOX 4's repeated calls or answer questions about PETA's specific claims, but did provide this response:

Hallmark has not created any new chimpanzee photography in nearly a decade. Since then any new card featuring a chimpanzee has been illustrated or pulled from our existing photo library of licensed or sourced images. Hallmark's products and cards featuring animals are intended to celebrate the love, humor and happiness that they bring into our lives. Primates are featured on less than 50 of the more than 30,000 cards we offer.

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