Dear ‘Zookeeper’ Stars: Keep Cruelty Off the Set

Published by PETA. / 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

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind