CVS Bans Certain Greeting Cards from Its Stores

by Liz Holland
(Photo By Alejandro Martinez Velez/Europa Press via Getty Images)

The holiday season is in full swing! In the midst of it all, CVS is banning these greeting cards from its stores. This ban comes after protests from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals organization, more commonly known as ‘PETA’.

A Surprising Issue

The greeting cards in question have been pulled from stores due to the unnatural images of animals they portray. In a statement made by PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reinman, she explains,  “CVS’ greeting card aisle is getting a whole lot kinder, thanks to its decision to ban cards that exploit great apes. Chimpanzees aren’t models or props, and photos of them wearing Santa hats or sitting at the holiday table put these endangered animals at risk.”

CVS sold greeting cards that included images of apes wearing costumes, interacting with humans, prior to this ban. PETA made itself famous for its advocacy of animals, but the organization drew controversy in the past for its sometimes extreme measures.

A Bigger Implication

PETA also says that there are issues that extend past just distasteful exploitation with these greeting cards. According to the organization, images such as the ones displayed on these now-banned greeting cards are misleading. Consumers purchasing these cards may look at the positive image and associate it with the species doing well. However, chimpanzees are in fact facing the possibility of extinction. Additionally, there is a black market for humans keeping chimpanzees as pets. Considering this, PETA says these portrayals may continue to drive demand for such a market. 

Chimpanzees being sold as pets is one of the driving forces behind the species facing extinction, according to PETA. The organization believes working to continue to ban these portrayals from being sold may help the species survive. According to PETA’s website, efforts are being made to remove such images from cards sold by Hallmark and American Greetings.

Part of a Continuing movement

Although CVS is the most recent retail giant to pull the images, they are not the first. Just earlier this year, Rite Aid pulled such cards from their stores. The pull is a result of protests from the same organization that swayed CVS to follow suit. 

In March of this year, Rite Aid Executive Vice President Andre Persaud made a statement to PETA regarding the protests, and following action.  “In regards to your request to remove any greeting cards featuring great apes, please know we are removing any such cards from our inventory as quickly as possible. We have contacted our supplier American Greetings, and they will be removing all cards featuring great apes from our stores during their next service call,” Persaud said.

It’s important to note that PETA’s call for the ban is due to the nature of the images. Julia Galluci, a primatologist who works with PETA clarifies this in a statement made to Penn Live.

“We have no problem with greeting cards that feature natural depictions of great apes,” Gallucci said. “That’s very, very different from a chimpanzee drinking a beer, wearing a birthday hat, or wearing sunglasses. It can celebrate them for what they really are, which is this very interesting, magnificent, socially complex, emotionally complex species. They’re our closest living relative and worthy of respect, rather than just being sort of a caricature of a human,” Galluci says.