Youtubers Austin McBroom, James Charles and Jeffree Star were part of a marketing campaign that saw them pose with monkeys for a clothing brand — but now, the animal handler is in hot water over the photo op.
In November 2020, several high-profile internet stars were seen posing with a capuchin monkey and a baboon on social media as part of a promotion by clothing brand ‘Bananas Monkey.’
Makeup moguls Jeffree Star and James Charles were among the influencers involved in the promo, alongside YouTuber-turned-boxer Austin McBroom, a few TikTokers, and others.
At the time of the photoshoots, many of the influencers involved in the campaign were met with stern backlash from animal rights activists and their own fan bases, with some dubbing the marketing stunt “abusive” and “exploitative” toward the animals.
1. A company called Bananas Monkey sent around a baboon & another monkey with PR boxes for its launch to influencers
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) November 11, 2020
Animal handler reprimanded after influencers pose with monkeys
Although the photo ops were met with major dissent online when it first happened, news on the subject quickly died down… until reports surfaced a year later that claimed the monkeys’ handler had gotten in trouble for it.
According to an October 4 press release, PETA had filed a complaint with the USDA regarding the incident, claiming that animal handler Kevin Keith was possibly in violation of the Animal Welfare Act and calling the photo op “dangerous,” lest Keith had lost control of the monkeys.
Well, it seems that Keith has been reprimanded. TMZ reports that the USDA has issued him a “stern warning” with instructions to “correct his behavior moving forward.”
Government inspectors also claim that Keith failed to “adequately maintain direct control of the animals” while they shook hands, crawled on shoulders, and cheesed for the camera during the promo event.
Thus far, no word has been heard from Keith regarding the incident, and none of the aforementioned celebs have spoken out on the matter at the time of writing.