20 July 2011

PETA tells comedians there’s nothing funny about animal abuse

Summer movie season is in full swing but some films are not making fans with animal rights activists. The premiere of the movie Zookeeper was met with protests from PETA prompted by the death of a giraffe used in the film.

The giraffe, Tweet, was 18 years old and had worked previously in Toys "R" Us commercials and in the film Ace Ventura. She had been transported across the country from Los Angeles to appear in the movie which was shot in Massachusetts. She collapsed and died a day after completing her scenes in Zookeeper.

A spokesperson for PETA said an insider on the set of Zookeeper reported that Tweet was kept in a small stall and that the animal was seen chewing on a plastic tarp that was part of her enclosure.

Tweets owners deny any mistreatment of the giraffe and say that her death was due to natural causes.

But Tweets death isn't the only controversial issue surrounding the film.

Zookeeper also reportedly used elephants provided by the company Have Trunk Will Travel, whose trainers were caught on undercover video using violent methods to train elephants including beating them with bull hooks and using electric prods.

One of the elephants videotaped being beaten, Tai, was recently featured in the movie Water for Elephants.

Along with staging protests, PETA is now reaching out to some big stars to try to end the abuse animals endure in the entertainment industry. PETA has penned letters to Jim Carrey, Kevin James, Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller appealing to the actors to boycott films that feature exotic animals.

All the comedians have either starred in or produced movies that feature animals and PETA say that the actors might not be aware of the “abuse and suffering” the animals endure, as it occurs off the set.

Part of the letter reads:

"Because much of the abuse suffered by the animals forced to perform in movies occurs off the set - including deplorable living and transport conditions and the use of electric prods, bull hooks, and other violent training methods - the actors are likely unaware that cruelty is routine and severe in the wild animal-training industry.”

All of these funny men have made a truck load of money using animals in movies. Hopefully they’ll realize there’s nothing funny about animal abuse.

Robin Lawless | @robmlaw | email
Robin lives in New York City and writes about all things animal, vegetable, and sometimes mineral at her blog wildnewyorkblog.com. Visit her there to read about animal friendly lifestyles in the Big Apple and beyond. Feel free to add Robin as a friend on Facebook.

Photo credit: Columbia Pictures movie poster