Hey, Ryan Murphy: Animals Don’t Belong in Film and TV!

Published by Carolyn Englar.

It’s time for Hollywood to end the use of wild animals in film and television. Ryan Murphy’s Ratched is TV’s latest offender to exploit animals in the name of entertainment. The Netflix show features a capuchin monkey, a highly intelligent primate from Central and South America, who, like all wild animals, doesn’t belong on a film or TV set. To help set the filmmaker straight, PETA sent him a detailed, behind-the-scenes overview of PETA Germany’s creation of a highly realistic computer-generated gorilla for a moving public service announcement (PSA). This raises an important point—if a nonprofit can create a lifelike gorilla using modern and humane technology, Hollywood should always do so, too.

Watch the full PSA below, which has been seen by millions of people around the world:

Primates used in the entertainment industry are typically taken away from their mothers as babies and frequently denied adequate psychological and social stimulation, proper exercise, and the opportunity to engage in natural behavior. Many suffer from debilitating loneliness and depression. Moreover, when real monkeys appear in movies or TV shows, it can mislead audiences into thinking that these animals are happy in human environments, even inspiring viewers to acquire them as “pets,” thereby fueling the shady trade in captive wild animals. Using computer-generated imagery (CGI) prevents all that.

The magnificent silverback in PETA Germany’s video was created by Swedish animation studio FABLEfx. Check out the full visual effects breakdown below, and get ready to be wowed by the amazing technology used to create Cozy:

This stunning PSA proves once again that creative people can tell compelling, emotional stories using special effects and without exploiting any real animals. Thankfully, many Hollywood stars know very well that animals don’t belong on screen, and actors like Anjelica Huston, Andy Serkis, and Alan Cumming have spoken out against the cruelty inherent in using primates for the sake of entertainment.

Animals in Film and TV: Cruelty Behind the Scenes

Using animals for film and TV productions normalizes the exploitation of wild animals, sending a dangerous, regressive message to viewers. When industry giants like Murphy dress up monkeys for a TV show, it conveys that wild animals are safe, approachable, and ours to control. We hope he takes note of PETA Germany’s PSA and recognizes the animal training industry for the American Horror Story it is.

What audiences don’t see is that behind the scenes, the often-frightened animals typically endure excessive handling, crating for extended periods, and stressful transport to and from sets. When not “working,” animals are often kept in close confinement and deprived of opportunities for exercise, enrichment, and companionship—which poses a significant threat to their health, safety, and well-being. Abusive training techniques, including food deprivation, are also commonly used to ensure that animals will perform on set in the fewest takes possible.

We’ve Seen the Future of TV and Film—and It’s CGI

In fact, CGI is already the present for many of Hollywood’s top filmmakers. Movies like The Lion King and The Jungle Book brought Simba, Rafiki, Baloo, and Shere Khan to life without forcing a single animal to perform. Disney’s Aladdin and Dumbo remakes feature playful CGI monkeys, and shows like The Walking Dead and The Umbrella Academy have incorporated stunningly realistic CGI wild-animal characters at the center of their story arcs. CGI, animatronics, and other types of technology are paving the way for an enlightened approach to depicting animals in cinema—one in which nobody is whipped, caged, starved, or neglected.

How You Can Help Animals Used in the Entertainment Industry

Murphy’s decision to use a real primate for a TV show is netting him nothing but bad reviews from animal advocates. Compassionate filmmakers understand that animals should never suffer for a movie or a TV show, and PETA is calling on anyone who sees an animal being used for a production to report it immediately. You can also let your disapproval be known by commenting on the social media pages of the director, the network or studio, and the production companies.

PETA also relies on casts and crews to help change the entertainment industry from the inside. Anyone who sees animals being used on a film or TV set or at a training compound can report it here, contact our confidential whistleblower hotline at 323-210-2233, or send an e-mail to [email protected]. Your anonymity will be taken very seriously.

Tell HBO to STOP Exploiting Animals

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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