The American Humane Association (AHA) has long been criticized for its cozy relationship with animal trainers and for allowing questionable treatment of animals on sets, as demonstrated by the deaths of horses on HBO’s doomed show Luck. Now, AHA is under fire again: During a recent newscast, AHA President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert promoted her organization’s new “humane” standards for zoos while clutching a distressed, screaming spider monkey provided by notorious animal exhibitor Conservation Ambassadors.
A handler also dumped an endangered lemur onto a news anchor’s lap and walked away. The anchors passed the lemur back and forth as the animal struggled and tried to escape.
In response, PETA sent a letter asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate Conservation Ambassadors for forcing clearly distressed animals to be exhibited in apparent violation of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
AHA is primarily known for approving “No Animals Were Harmed” statements on movies—despite horrific animal deaths and injuries—and certifying Butterball turkeys as “humane,” even though the company’s suppliers routinely grind up baby male turkeys alive and cut off the ends of birds’ beaks.
Conservation Ambassadors has a long history of AWA violations, including the mauling of a young boy by a tiger during an exhibit at a school. It was also cited by the USDA for failing to administer adequate veterinary care to a kangaroo, who later died before receiving medical attention, and most recently, it was cited for keeping chinchillas in a cage so filthy that USDA inspectors noted, “There were no clean areas in the enclosures where the animals could avoid exposure to fecal material.”