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Dear ‘Zookeeper’ Stars: Keep Cruelty Off the Set

Written by PETA | August 13, 2009 / CC

The Zookeeper has recently begun filming at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston. It’s a movie about, well, a zookeeper, played by Kevin James, who wins Rosario Dawson’s heart with the help of his animal charges. Well, presumably he wins her heart—what a bummer of a movie if not!

Something else that would make the The Zookeeper a bummer? If it used exotic animal “actors” to portray its animal characters, who are voiced by stars such as Cher, Adam Sandler, and Sylvester Stallone.

PETA has written letters to the film’s stars asking them not to work with animal “actors” and pointing out that Birds & Animals Unlimited, the company that has been contracted to supply animals for the film, has a long list of USDA violations. Not only that, but exotic animals who are used as involuntary “actors” are routinely subjected to cruel training methods that can include being beaten, shocked with electric prods, drugged, and deprived of food in order to coerce them into performing acts that are stressful, confusing, and even painful to them.

Movies like The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong have exclusively used computer-generated imagery, animatronics, and other technology instead of trained animals—and they ended up being blockbusters. We are suggesting that The Zookeeper use these modern techniques as well—or simply use footage of animals who already live at the Franklin Park Zoo.

As PETA’s own Debbie Leahy said, “When it comes to exotic animal characters, the best casting choice is to ‘fake it.’ Even under the best of circumstances, captivity can be hell for exotic animals.”

Written by Amanda Schinke

Commenting is closed.
  • pam says:

    If the animals are treated well and doing things they would normally do in the wild then it’s fine. However this is rarely the case when it comes to exotic animals. CGI has been used in many films when exotic animals are required and few viewers if any can tell the difference. It’s certainly better for the animals no one needs to clean up after them and it’s safer for the human cast and crew.

  • Dani says:

    Have these people never heard of CGI?

  • emma says:

    Well said meg!! I too love this guy king of queens is fantastic and just watched mall cop last night funny film would you be able to post a link where we can get in touch with kevin ourselves peta?

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    To Kevin James hopefully he will come to the PETA site to read the comments on his upcoming movie or perhaps PETA will forward this to him I have no ideal how to contact celebrities I am one of your fans. I loved King of Queens I enjoyed your interview with Los Angeles DJ’s Mark and Brian a few years back and I enjoyed your movie Mall Cop it was very funny I worked in a mall for many years and I can tell you first hand mall security does not get nearly the respect they deserve. I do not know what you are like personally but your professional appearance is that of a sweet caring nonviolent man in fact I told my husband in that respect you remind me a great deal of him. I have a request hopefully the movie “Zookeeper” uses animatronic or CGI creatures for the animals but if it does not please be vigilant of how the animals are treated and if you see an incident of abuse or even suspect abuse speak up on behalf of the animals. If necessary report it. It would show the world what a wonderful person you truly are. With a great deal of professional respect Rev. Meg Schramm

  • Sarah says:

    Did anyone hate Man vs. Wild even more since the season premier on Tuesday night? I DID

  • BeelzeBob says:

    I wish they’d use some ‘positive reimbursement’ on me! I could use it!

  • Brien Comerford says:

    Humane captivity is only essential for direly endangered species that are being massacred to the realm of extinction in their violent and inhumane homelands.

  • Edward says:

    I would like to point out that not all trained animals are abused. If some companies like Birds and Animals Unlimited used positive reimbursement instead of negative reimbursement the problem would not be so large.

  • Vaish says:

    Making animals act is a nonsense!!!!! Among the humans itself there are only few good actors and we can count on our fingers. Rest all are not qualified enough for acting.So when we human beings cannot act properly how do u expect those poor animals to act and what right we have got to torture them beat and abuse them if they dont act properly????? Absolute nonsense. People please think twice open up ur brains and start thinking properly!!!!! Leave the animals alone Let them live in peace!!!!!

  • Emma Jones says:

    In regards to wild and exotic animals being used for films I think the use of animatronics and computer graphics is the best way to go. It is not fair on these animals to be used as entertainment in this way especially as when there are more important things to focus on i.e. breeding and conservation programs.

  • Keila says:

    I agree. Animals are not ours to use as commodities.

  • Edward says:

    Obviously King Kong used CGI. There are no 30foot tall gorillas that are willing to climb the Empire State Building. But seriously if the animals are treated like they should be or better and they seem to enjoy “acting” is it considered OK for them to be part of showbiz?