Pankun

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Pan-kun (パン君, born October 1, 2001) is a young chimpanzee in Japan often featured on the NTV television show Tensai! Shimura Dōbutsuen (天才!志村動物園, lit. Genius! Shimura Zoo) and the TBS program Dōbutsu Kisō Tengai! (どうぶつ奇想天外!, lit. Unbelievable Animals!). Most of the segments feature him and his bulldog friend, James, embarking on a variety of "human" tasks, like buying groceries, planting a rice paddy, or catching insects.

Pankun is now owned by Cuddly Dominion, a zoo located beside the volcano Mount Aso, in the Kumamoto Prefecture of Kyūshū. After moving in, Pankun has turned into the main event of the zoo, featuring daily stage shows of various themes in Japanese.

Attack[edit]

In 2012 when Pankun was performing for the Aso Cuddly Dominion Zoo, he attacked a student trainee staff and severely injured her. The attack was sudden and it left "cuts on her forehead, ears, ankles, and back." The woman was flown by a helicopter to a hospital where she was hospitalized for weeks. As a result, Pankun was forced to retire from the show business in the Cuddly Dominion zoo.[1][2]

Legacy of the show[edit]

The show has also been translated into international versions; for Nickelodeon in India as The Munnabhai Show, for JET TV in Taiwan (狗狗猩猩大冒險), for Modern Nine in Thailand (ขำกลิ้งลิงกับหมา) and TVB in Hong Kong (阿笨與阿占) as The Adventures of Pan and James: Chimpanzee and Bulldog on Errands, winning Best Foreign Purchased Program at the 2006 TVB Anniversary Awards.

Recent research has shown that this show and its copycats portrait chimpanzees, an endangered wild animal, in a highly misleading way. Shows like this will mislead viewers to underestimate the fact that chimpanzees are endangered and thus become less willing to donate to chimpanzee conservation causes. In addition, they will encourage the demand for pet chimpanzees and other great apes by misleading viewers to think that chimpanzees make good pets, while in reality they are extremely strong and impulsive once they go through puberty.[3][4] This has happened before in the 1980s by a Taiwanese TV show featuring a baby orangutan from a local zoo. The show singlehandedly created a demand for pet orangutans in Taiwan which then led to an estimate of 1,000 pet orangutans being smuggled to Taiwan and another 4,000-5,000 that died in the process of capture and transportation, approximately 10% the entire wild population of orangutans [5][6]

The popularity of this show in Asia has inspired copycats such as Wonderful Friends produced in China, which has also been heavily criticized by domestic and international community.

References[edit]