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The Environment Ministry has opened an investigation to determine if a private zoo in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture, is violating the species preservation law by frequently putting a male chimpanzee on TV, ministry sources said Sunday.

The 5-year-old chimp was handed over to Ichihara Elephant Kingdom by a zoo in the city of Miyazaki in 2002 with the aim of breeding.

However, it has been appearing in TV programs and has even been used as a host of a late-night show.

“TV appearances impose burdens on the chimpanzee, which is getting into the breeding season, and it may violate the law,” a ministry official said.

The ministry questioned Ichihara zoo officials and asked them to submit a breeding plan, the sources said.

The zoo officials said, meanwhile, they are now looking for a partner for the chimpanzee and that shooting for TV programs is conducted once every two weeks and only for four hours at a time.

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