Grand Strand chimpanzees praise "War for the Planet of the Apes"

Courtesy: Myrtle Beach Safari

War for the Planet of the Apes brought in millions of dollars Friday at the box office. Two of those viewers from the Grand Strand were chimpanzees.

"They love the evolution of watching apes be people-like. I think they know exactly what's going on," said Doc Antle, the founder and director of T.I.G.E.R.S. Myrtle Beach Safari.

Antle spends most of his time training the 20 chimpanzees at his safari. He also trains tigers, elephants and other animals. Sometimes, when he isn't training them, he takes two of his chimps to the movies.

Friday, he did just that. Vali and Sugriva accompanied him for the latest installment of one of their favorite series. The two chimps grabbed their apple juice and popcorn before heading inside the theater.

"People imagine chimps to be these very dangerous, vicious characters. That side of them exists but is often expressed because they're unsatisfied with the circumstances they're in," he said.

Antle said most important is their environment -- especially in public.

They're not strangers to movies.

"They love the Hobbit movies. They love watching Lord of the Rings. They love all of the superhero movies. Those seem to be the ones that they're most attracted to," Antle said.

And they use technology.

"They look at social media. They can play around on it and they find things they love. We find the parts that they think are special and we encourage that because we want them to have a good time."

That good time continued in the movie theater, but they didn't quite warm up to Woody Harrelson's bad-guy character, throwing popcorn in the direction of the movie screen when he appeared.

"He's the monkey killer, and every time he's on, they're like, 'get him! He's the wrong one.'"

This trip to the theater was not the first for the chimps. Antle has taken the two for prior screenings of the Planet of the Apes series. He's also taken them to a showing of Tarzan. Stone Theatres' Grand 14 at The Market Common allowed them to watch the movie.

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