PETA Monkey Business: Group Names Primate “Person of the Year”

PETA has named the monkey it made famous for taking a grinning selfie of itself “Person of the Year.”

The animal rights group said it wanted to recognise the monkey called Naruto as “someone and not something”.

It is the latest slap in the face by PETA to wildlife photographer David Slater who got the monkey to take the snap.

PETA took him to court claiming Naruto owned the picture copyright and the long legal battle destroyed the snappers career and left him broke.

In 2011 the the Indonesian black macaque monkey pressed the shutter button while staring down the lens of a camera set up by British nature photographer Slater on the island of Sulawesi.

The photos quickly went viral and PETA launched a lawsuit that claimed the then six-year-old Naruto should be “declared the author and owner of his photograph.”

The court case set off an international debate among legal experts about personhood for animals and whether they can own property.

Slater maintained he owned the rights to the pictures since he engineered its creation–setting up the tripod and walking away for a few minutes, only to find out that the monkey had grabbed his camera and snapped away.

The case was settled in September with Slater agreeing to donate 25 percent of any future revenue from using or selling the monkey selfies to help protect the habitat of crested macaques in Indonesia. 

Mr. Slater said that the dispute had left him so broke he was considering becoming a dog walker and that he could not afford to run a car.

He said: ‘Every photographer dreams of a photograph like this. If everybody gave me a pound for every time they used it I’d probably have £40 million in my pocket… the proceeds should have made me comfortable now, and I’m not.”

While PETA may have an elevated opinion of the black macaque, Indonesian locals do not.

Authorities and activists have been trying to persuade villagers on Sulawesi to stop consuming the critically endangered monkeys, one of many creatures that form part of the local indigenous community’s diet. 

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