Home Photography The Photo Bill of Rights: An Interview with Three Co-Authors

The Photo Bill of Rights: An Interview with Three Co-Authors

The Photograph Invoice of Rights is a doc initially revealed on June 22 that asserts the rights of people within the visible journalism and editorial media business.

Authored by a various group of people from each grassroots organizations and legacy establishments Authority Collective, Coloration Constructive, Diversify Photograph, The On a regular basis Tasks, Juntos, the Nationwide Press Photographers Affiliation, Natives {Photograph}, and Ladies {Photograph}, it brings consideration to the pervasive points surrounding well being, security, entry, bias, ethics, and finance all through the visible journalism and editorial media industries and affords options to determine equitable requirements by way of actionable steps.

The NPPA, a co-author, defended the doc in a press release by the Board of Administrators, stating it dovetails their “financial and advocacy priorities, our Code of Ethics and our perception that inclusive actions should take root within the NPPA and the broader visible journalism business.”

As of this week, there have been over 2,500 signatories in help.

Lately I had the chance to just about sit down with three of the co-authors of the Invoice: Jai Lennard, photographer and founding father of Coloration Constructive; Jovelle Tamayo, photojournalist and founding member of Authority Collective; and fellow Authority Collective co-Founder, visible journalist and media scholar Tara Pixley to debate the Invoice.

This interview has been flippantly edited for readability and size. Cowl picture by the Photograph Invoice of Rights.

Caitlyn Edwards: What deficiencies did paperwork like NPPA’s Code of Ethics have? The place did the present documentation fall quick?

Jai Lennard: Effectively, from my perspective, the NPPA dialog actually didn’t are available at first. We first started speaking about this in late March due to what was happening culturally with COVID-19. These had been all our preliminary conversations. We had been nervous about simply how folks had been dealing mentally and likewise health-wise with simply going to work. As these conversations developed, different issues got here up. What can we need to speak about? What can we need to deal with? If that is the situation the place we’ve to relook at our business health-wise, then what else ought to we be taking a look at?

Jovelle Tamayo: Simply to construct off what Jai mentioned, it positively wasn’t born out of figuring out any deficiency with another doc. It wasn’t a response to that. It was a response to the problems we face as freelancers and unbiased employees, particularly on the onset of the pandemic. Loads of these points we had been dealing with earlier than the pandemic — late funds, lengthy cost contracts, whether or not we had been feeling protected on task or supported by the folks we’re working for — these points we talked about within the Invoice, and so they had been simply exacerbated by the pandemic. Loads of these points that disproportionately affected of us who’ve been essentially the most marginalized had been amplified and we wished to say one thing about that and push for folk to do one thing about that.

CE: Completely. One factor that I believe has been very fascinating are the conversations, each optimistic and adverse, sparked by the time period “lens-based employee.” Are you able to clarify a bit of bit concerning the alternative to make use of that time period versus “photographer, videographer, editor, and so forth.”?

Editor’s observe: the time period is outlined within the Glossary right here.

JT: We wished it to be a very inclusive time period. There are loads of photographers represented within the group, however we even have photograph editors, we’ve filmmakers, we’ve of us that do VR. Our definition of ourselves is at all times increasing and altering and these classes mix into one another.

We wished to discover a time period that was inclusive of all these totally different areas. I believe whenever you’re utilizing a brand new time period there’s loads of awkwardness round it at first, you’re like, “This can be a new phrase. I’ve by no means heard it earlier than. It doesn’t really feel fairly proper. Perhaps there’s a higher time period on the market.” However that is the one we landed on. It additionally makes it clear that we’re representing ourselves as employees inside the business.

Tara Pixley: I believe it’s fascinating that this has been such a touchpoint for folks, however “lens-based employee” is a time period meant to be as inclusive as attainable. There’s loads of totally different visible work taking place in our area proper now. It’s not simply photographers, it’s not simply video. There’s loads of other ways of participating with visible media manufacturing. “Lens-based employee” was a time period that grabbed all of these totally different types of labor and manufacturing of visible media. I’ve been a photographer for twenty years, and I don’t take any umbrage of being known as a lens-based employee as a result of it doesn’t take something away from me as being a photographer or videographer.

In the end, I believe that it’s a fairly impartial time period. It additionally was drawing consideration to the truth that that is work. We don’t simply present up and create photographs out of nothing. We’re bringing our our bodies to areas. We’re placing our lives on the road loads of the time, as we’ve seen in these protests. A photojournalist misplaced an eye fixed. Individuals have been damage, arrested, attacked. There are loads of issues that make our work, our our bodies, and our time, very priceless but additionally very weak. So I believe “lens-based” was making an attempt to seize all of that to acknowledge each the expansiveness of our area and loads of totally different folks doing totally different varieties of labor round pictures and visuals normally.

We additionally need to acknowledge that that is labor and that we should be paid, revered, and handled correctly for this work and this labor that we’re placing into educating and informing the plenty.

CE: And paid on time, hopefully! What have been a few of the responses that you just all obtained since its launch?

JL: It’s been a reasonably wide selection, however total staggeringly in help. There’s positively an awesome quantity of help, simply because I believe that proper now we’ve the chance to be sure that all our voices are heard, and since we’ve taken the time to place this out on this format. I really feel like lots of people are instantly feeling heard about most of the outdated issues nonetheless dealing with these within the business. So I believe that’s simply been overwhelmingly optimistic. Something veering away from that’s nearly particular phrases, particular concepts inside the dialog that won’t work as nicely for sure people who find themselves doing particular jobs as it might for others who’re doing different jobs within the business.

We don’t actually have the ability or the infrastructure to carry people or establishments accountable. We’re an advert hoc group of people that simply wished to see one thing higher for our business. And we got here collectively and tried to make that occur, however we’re not within the enterprise of policing, we’re not within the enterprise of handing out charges and fines and issues like that. So actually, it’s concerning the need to be higher.

Tara Pixley

JT: I believe like Jai mentioned, the response has actually been overwhelmingly optimistic and inspiring. This can be a doc that’s advocating for extra fairness within the business on the finish of the day. And we simply need to change the practices which have been protecting folks out of publications and establishments.

I believe there are nuances inside the doc that people would possibly disagree with and we’ve at all times welcomed engagement in constructive conversations round these issues. We positively need to embody extra views and determine the easiest way we will work collectively to advocate for a extra inclusive business.

However there’s additionally been a common discomfort with a few of the issues we’re naming inside the doc, that won’t have been named within the mainstream photograph world earlier than. The terminology we embody within the introduction, for instance, we’re naming that: white supremacy has upheld sure problematic programs inside the business. And that’s one thing that’s made issues really feel uncomfortable however we’re prepared to maintain pushing these conversations ahead. Actually, we’re simply serving to the business sit in a few of that and determine how we will work by way of it collectively. As a result of should you don’t identify one thing, how are you going to repair it?

CE: You talked about the time period “white supremacy” because it’s used within the doc. I believe that’s introduced up loads of that discomfort you’re describing, Jovelle. I’d love to listen to concerning the determination to incorporate that particular time period.

JL: There was loads of thought put into it. And on condition that we may deal with what this meant by naming what folks had been feeling and experiencing concurrently, loads of the dialog was about how assertive we need to be with our language. In the end this was essentially the most correct. And I believe what Jovelle was speaking about earlier than, with giving issues a reputation, I believe that that was actually loads of the work. It was placing names to issues in situations, positions, and folks, and experiences that we actually wanted to now have a dialog about.

JT: It was a very simple time period to give you as a result of it’s the reality. I believe loads of the response we’re seeing inside different industries and inside society as an entire is about naming white supremacy as one thing that upholds these programs in our nation. Maybe some of us are taking it a bit of extra personally, as an assault on who they’re as people. However white supremacy is a system. White supremacy is the system that we must always all be combating in opposition to.

CE: Additionally, I need to speak concerning the idea of knowledgeable consent. I believe journalistic objectivity and the First Modification are generally referenced in a few of the criticisms of the Invoice, significantly round knowledgeable consent.

I’m questioning concerning the methods wherein lens-based employees can get knowledgeable consent. I do know that there have been the pattern dialogues that had been included within the Toolkit. However Tara, I bear in mind on one of many panels that I attended that you just had been on, you talked about a head nod to a protester in an effort to ensure they had been snug with you taking their photograph.

So along with the verbal examples that you just all offered, are you able to additionally communicate extra concerning the situational or non-verbal methods lens-based employees can get consent?

TP: First, I need to say, the Photograph Invoice of Rights itself doesn’t in any means point out knowledgeable consent, that’s within the Past the Invoice, which is a supplementary useful resource. It’s fascinating and telling that there’s been a lot dialog round this tiny half. That was a suggestion for individuals who, in the event that they wished and had been in a position to interact in knowledgeable consent, may use these easy dialogues. It was not prescriptive, it was not demanded, and it’s not one thing that anybody is being requested to signal on to do simply because it’s on a web site.

There’s additionally an About web page. When folks signal onto the Invoice of Rights, that doesn’t imply that they’re agreeing with all the pieces on our About Web page or any of the sources. Signing the invoice signifies that they’re agreeing with what’s particularly on the Photograph Invoice of Rights, so I simply need to make clear that time as a result of there’s been a ton of misinformation and misdirection round this concept that knowledgeable consent is a few central tenet of the Invoice of Rights, which is simply categorically unfaithful.

I simply wished to be sure that that’s clarified as a result of it’s extremely distracting from the actually essential matters which might be within the precise Invoice of Rights that we’ve requested folks to signal on to and agree with.

With all that mentioned, I additionally want to reframe knowledgeable consent as minimizing hurt. That’s the factor about it that actually issues. It’s not about insisting that each single particular person you {photograph} is aware of they’re being photographed in a public area. As a photojournalist, I perceive and acknowledge that it’s not at all times an inexpensive request and it’s not essentially attainable on a regular basis.

Now, you’ll be able to acknowledge that knowledgeable consent isn’t going to be attainable on a regular basis and nonetheless be doing the work of trying to attenuate hurt. Knowledgeable consent is one side of minimizing hurt. Minimizing hurt is an moral method that you just take as a photographer throughout the board, the place you’re at all times eager about how your actions as a photographer in any area, would possibly positively or negatively have an effect on the folks that you just’re photographing or the area wherein you’re photographing. And that’s the sentiment from which we wrote about minimizing hurt.

Once more, I don’t need to communicate for the entire group, however that’s actually the place I’m coming from once I speak about it. And to very particularly reply your query, Caitlyn. Sure, it’s simple to get consent in public areas loads of the time. Even should you can’t interact on this prolonged dialogue with somebody, you’ll be able to catch their eye and join with them. In the event that they flip away from you, or shake their head, or stroll away, or put their hand up, that’s proof that they don’t need to be photographed. And it’s very simple for us as photographers to say, “Okay. There’s tons of if not hundreds of individuals at this protest, I can go and {photograph} another person.”

These are the sorts of issues that I’m eager about once I’m photographing. And people are the sorts of issues that I’m anticipating my colleagues, and friends, and the business to consider as they’re photographing. Simply the essential observe of participating with respect and consideration with everybody that you just’re photographing as a result of I imagine that’s our obligation as journalists and as photographers.

JT: This can be a actually contentious a part of the discharge of the Photograph Invoice of Rights, however it’s additionally not within the Invoice of Rights in any respect. It’s only one part of a Toolkit that we provided. I believe the factor that’s so superb concerning the Toolkits, they’re meant to, on the finish of the day, empower freelance employees and unbiased photographers, who could not have had entry to institutional help. Perhaps they didn’t go to pictures or journalism faculty, or perhaps they didn’t have the suitable mentors. Or perhaps they simply don’t know learn how to have these conversations. So to assist photographers assume by way of these issues, we’ve a Past the Invoice chapter on minimizing hurt that goes into better, nuanced element about knowledgeable consent amongst different issues. That chapter was deliberate earlier than the launch of the Photograph Invoice of Rights however is forthcoming.

CE: I do know that there have been some adjustments which have been included for the reason that launch. What has modified? Have they been to the precise Invoice of Rights or have they extra been to the Toolkit?

JT: We actually haven’t modified the Invoice itself in any respect. There may be one phrase that we’ve modified. Initially we had written out “queer and trans” as a part of our record of people who’re most marginalized inside the business. And we wished to refine that to “LGBTQIA+” to actually be sure that we had been being essentially the most inclusive. For instance, queer and trans could not embody of us who establish as intersex or asexual. So we wished to be sure that was clarified and we modified that fairly rapidly, the day after the launch. We additionally up to date the glossary definition of “folks with disabilities.” Readers from these respective communities reached out with options and constructive criticism that we took into consideration.

There may be additionally an edit log out there on the Photograph Invoice of Rights web site.

We additionally made clarifications within the Toolkit, added related phrases to the glossary, made clarifications on present phrases, and lately revealed one other chapter within the “Past the Invoice” part.

Whereas the Invoice of Rights itself will stay comparatively unchanging to retain the integrity of the Invoice for many who’ve already signed, what’s actually cool about these supplementary paperwork is that they’re residing paperwork. We need to construct on them to make them stronger. We’re so open to individuals who need to interact with us respectfully to make these paperwork stronger.

CE: On the subject of inclusivity, one of many issues that I noticed once I was simply trying by way of Twitter was from a photojournalist, Jintak Han, who talked about that the problems within the Invoice of Rights had been approached by way of this Western lens. The Photograph Invoice of Rights does acknowledge that Western lens, however I’m questioning concerning the steps that you just all are taking to make it globally inclusive.

JL: That’s one other a part of the dialog that we’ve been having for the reason that begin of making this Invoice, recognizing that the committee is usually People. So sure, it comes from that perspective. However proper now we’re engaged on quite a few translations of the Invoice. As Jovelle talked about, that is simply a place to begin. It’s the baseline. If we will all come to this baseline collectively and transfer from there, then we will make issues higher. And that features having folks from different nations and different elements of the world who can readjust, reframe, and take what we’ve began to help them. In the end the purpose has at all times been to create instruments to assist folks.

Editor’s observe: As of the time of this publication the Photograph Invoice of Rights is now out there in Spanish and French.

CE: Separate from making the Invoice extra globally inclusive, what are your plans to construct on the doc and the instruments that you just’ve created? I do know that you’ve Past the Invoice, however I’m questioning should you can share extra about the place you hope to go from right here.

JT: By way of constructing, we’ve Past the Invoice, and we simply launched the Editor’s Toolkit and the second chapter on Implicit Bias (the primary chapter is on Fostering Neighborhood). We’ve got just a few chapters within the works for the approaching weeks and months, which we’ve been engaged on since earlier than the launch, and we’re additionally welcoming group suggestions on which matters to discover in future chapters. We hope so as to add sources to the glossary and Toolkits as nicely. We invite the enter of people inside the business to make these sources stronger as we go alongside.

As a result of it is a start line, we wish the doc to actually be seen by folks in positions of energy, by hiring events, like editors, artwork administrators, folks on the high of establishments who can really do one thing to vary the programs we’re bringing to mild. So hopefully we will begin to facilitate a few of these conversations.

JL: I additionally really feel actually strongly concerning the committees that we put collectively. All of us care so deeply and the work has solely amplified since releasing. We’re continuously assembly, we’re continuously making an attempt to determine what the response is and learn how to alter. But in addition learn how to transfer ahead by way of what’s subsequent, what are our objectives?

TP: My focus is basically on programming and connecting with photograph editors, producers, and curators—the people who find themselves in positions of authority and have the ability to assist transition the business towards extra equitable practices for all photographers. What the Invoice of Rights did was lay out a framework for equitable practices that helps everybody: each photographer, each photograph editor, and each information and editorial group. With that framework, the majority of the work now’s to attach with as many establishments as attainable and actually begin to work by way of how we understand these actions on the institutional degree collectively.

There are nuances inside the doc that people would possibly disagree with and we’ve at all times welcomed engagement in constructive conversations round these issues. We positively need to embody extra views and determine the easiest way we will work collectively to advocate for a extra inclusive business.

Jovelle Tamayo

CE: How do you all plan to measure inclusivity, transparency and fairness progress? I’m acquainted with Ladies {Photograph}’s breakdown of who’s getting revealed by main publications, however I’m questioning should you all have any set measurement instruments.

TP: I need to point out the visible storyteller survey we did together with a number of different organizations as a result of it was an integral a part of us understanding early on what we as an business had been experiencing below COVID. We had been making an attempt to parse out what are the most important points dealing with photographers now within the world disaster that we’re all in, but additionally previous to this second. As a result of the photograph business has been in a disaster of monetary precarity. It’s been in a disaster of inequitable practices, lack of range, lack of inclusion. We wished to know how all of these issues had been taking place.

Over 700 photographers from around the globe, largely in North America, responded. We did get fairly a great illustration of some world photographers responding to the survey. And from that info, we had been in a position to see the areas and the ache factors of what photographers had been experiencing. The monetary precarity of our business was actually made obvious from that survey, in order that’s one thing that I believe has not been absolutely researched and regarded.

As an business, we’ve been focusing quite a bit on gender, however we don’t typically speak about class and the way our socioeconomic standing really pertains to race and gender. It significantly impacts folks’s skill to get into the pictures business and to stay within the photograph business. That’s one thing that I need to preserve paying very shut consideration to with surveys and as a lot analysis as attainable.

I’m on this bizarre place of being each a photographer and a researcher. That’s the factor that I’m making an attempt to spearhead as a part of our varied Invoice of Rights tasks: making an attempt to know how we will take a look at what’s taking place within the business. By parsing out particular person photographers’ experiences, gathering all of that intel, and from that, making an attempt to know what our greatest practices might be.

That form of information goes to be extremely helpful as we transfer ahead to see who’s doing what to make the business extra equitable. Who is basically considering deeply about their practices and the way they will make a way more various visible perspective and rent extra diversely?

JT: We joked lately, are we going to be doing this organizing for the subsequent 80 years? I discussed this Roxanne Homosexual tweet that I noticed: “Round 10 years in the past I compiled an inventory of writers of shade as a result of editors had been saying they will’t discover various writers. And editors are nonetheless making an attempt to compile such lists. No progress has been made! It’s so miserable.”

Throughout our eight organizations, we signify many alternative photographers who’ve these lived experiences that they’ve been sharing on-line or inside our communities, and a few of that information assortment Tara talked about has been motivated by this truth that individuals don’t imagine our lived experiences. Individuals don’t imagine that is actually taking place. Only in the near past, Jai posted on Coloration Constructive concerning the current Self-importance Truthful cowl accomplished by Dario Calmese, who was the primary Black photographer to work on the quilt for the publication.

There are particular issues that even outdoors of the information, we’re nonetheless experiencing and possibly will proceed to expertise for some time.

For me, we’d obtain success after we are all pretty represented, after we really feel protected and supported by the people who find themselves hiring us, and after we really feel a way of group inside the business.

TP: I believe it’s essential to say that we don’t actually have the ability or the infrastructure to carry people or establishments accountable. We’re an advert hoc group of people that simply wished to see one thing higher for our business. And we got here collectively and tried to make that occur, however we’re not within the enterprise of policing, we’re not within the enterprise of handing out charges and fines and issues like that. So actually, it’s concerning the need to be higher. I believe what we’re making an attempt to do is encourage folks to need to be higher and supply some instruments to realize that. The dialog we’re having about photograph ethics is written into the core of journalism.

What we’ve seen from the pushback is an try and invalidate that which individuals don’t need to acknowledge is actual. It makes the issues of the business very clear when folks’s response to, “Hey, let’s make this business extra equitable,” is, “You’re not even an actual photographer. What you’re doing is silly and the way dare you and who gave you the suitable?” as a substitute of claiming, “Okay, so perhaps our practices haven’t been nice,” or, “Let’s have a dialog about that. I don’t perceive the place you’re coming from,” or “That’s by no means been my perspective,” or “That’s by no means been my expertise. However clearly you’re having a unique expertise, so let’s have that dialog.”

What we’re seeing is individuals are reacting in a dismissive means, when a really vocal portion of our business responds with denial, with invalidations, with the lack to acknowledge the lived expertise of all these folks Jovelle was referencing. Nevertheless it’s not just some of us. It’s over 2,500 those that signed the Invoice. Over 2,500 folks mentioned, “Sure, I’ve had these experiences. I agree, I would like this. I need this and I demand this of my business.” That’s over 2,500 folks and continuously incoming signatories who’re saying that the Invoice of Rights is a sound factor. After which we’ve just a few voices who need to deny that any of that is obligatory.

Whereas we will’t maintain folks accountable in any bodily means, it’s turning into very obvious who must be held accountable. What are the areas that aren’t recognizing the lived experiences of ladies and folks of shade, and particularly ladies of shade within the photograph business? Who’re the people and the establishments that these folks help, that they discovered, that they work with and create? These folks and locations are making it very obvious that your complete group can maintain them accountable.

It’s going to proceed to develop as a result of it’s actually solely been just a few weeks, frankly, for the reason that Invoice of Rights got here out. However I believe that our business is shifting itself into the individuals who need to progress into a greater future and the individuals who need to double-down on the unhealthy habits of the previous, who need to double-down on the privilege that that they had, that precluded different folks from coming into the business, or from feeling protected within the business, or from with the ability to do their finest work. Everybody goes to finish up holding all of these folks accountable as we transfer ahead right into a significantly better area holistically.

JL: Only one final level: we’ve been working in an business that has allowed the success of many people, particularly white, on the expense of different non-white expertise. What we’re asking for is to be included, however not on the expense of others. I believe that will get misplaced. We actually do imagine that we will all be part of this business. I believe loads of the worry is round folks being outed. That isn’t really what we’re asking for in any means or what we want as a result of it’s distracting.

CE: Is there something you’d like so as to add?

TP: I’m talking completely for myself and never for your complete Invoice of Rights crew at this second — however I’ve observed loads of the criticism of the Invoice of Rights is coming from self-described photojournalists. They’re saying issues like, “I didn’t learn this Invoice. I refuse to learn it,” or, “I don’t perceive this. In order that should imply it’s not legitimate.”

The factor that I preserve returning to that I discover so regarding is the extent of intentional misunderstanding — of acknowledging that individuals aren’t studying it, they aren’t participating with it, and but they disagree. If that’s the usual that journalists are being held to and holding ourselves to —that we refuse to learn paperwork and but have in depth critiques of it — that we refuse to have interaction with the language so it should be improper. That to me as a citizen may be very regarding.

As a journalist, I’m embarrassed for these people who find themselves saying that. I’m embarrassed for my occupation, that these individuals are talking in such a fashion and representing photojournalism so reprehensibly. As a citizen, I’m involved that these individuals are employed as journalists once they’re clearly not working towards any type of important engagement with info. Their lack of understanding literacy, media literacy, is regarding. So I really discover it fascinating that so many extra points inside our area at the moment are being introduced up by way of the discharge of the Invoice of Rights, issues that I didn’t assume had been even a problem.

It appears as if there’s a actual lack of a need to know the very supplies that we’re being requested to provide for the general public.

When journalists aren’t studying, when journalists aren’t doing this naked minimal work of understanding info earlier than they relay it publicly, that’s actually regarding. We must be addressing these issues in our business and actually calling it out after we see it.

JT: I believe it’s actually essential to focus on that after we say it is a labor of affection, we actually imply it. Jai talked about earlier than, we’ve been assembly twice every week plus extra conferences since March, placing in all this effort into making this the strongest and most instructional useful resource we will. We’re doing that along with managing our respective organizations, along with our full-time jobs as photographers, filmmakers, photograph editors and professors. We’ve got put loads of volunteer work into this as a result of we imagine it has the ability to make our business higher.

We hope that people within the business can no less than meet us midway, to take what we’ve provided and both construct on it or put an additional effort to teach themselves if there’s one thing they don’t perceive. This isn’t one thing that we sought out to do for enjoyable. It’s one thing we did as a result of we would have liked this and the business wants this. All of us felt that motivation to create this collectively and put it on the market.


You’ll be able to study extra concerning the Photograph Invoice of Rights, their Toolkits and change into a signatory right here. In addition they have an occasion: a Photograph Editors Q&A on August sixth.

Earlier this 12 months, Photoshelter launched The Photographer’s Information to Inclusive Images in partnership with Authority Collective. We encourage everybody to obtain it to study the methods in which you’ll be able to interact with marginalized communities extra thoughtfully and respectfully.


The opinions expressed on this article are solely these of the authors.


Concerning the writer: Caitlyn Edwards is a part of the crew at PhotoShelter, which gives web sites and instruments for photographers. PhotoShelter was an preliminary institutional signatory on the Photograph Invoice of Rights. This text was initially revealed at Photoshelter.

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