There’s just so much wrong with socialite and wannabe-celebrity Dan Bilzerian—we don’t know where to start. But arguably the worst? Repeatedly putting animals in stressful and dangerous situations. And PETA’s had enough.
The troubled socialite’s most recent act of cruelty and douchebaggery occurred at his 4/20 party in Los Angeles, where the host and at least one of his guests had direct contact with a Kodiak bear, reportedly supplied by Steve Martin’s Working Wildlife. In response, PETA sent complaints urging local and state authorities to take action. According to Los Angeles Animal Services, Bilzerian and Martin didn’t have the required city permit. In fact, a permit for this type of “display” cannot be issued, because city regulations prohibit keeping wild bears in the residential zone where the party occurred.
This bear is just one of many animals Bilzerian has exploited to entertain his party guests. In 2015, he was photographed pulling a giraffe by a leash at one of his Hollywood bashes, which motivated a Los Angeles City Council member to propose a city-wide ban on the use of exotic animals for entertainment. So at least there’s one silver lining for animals to come out of Bilzerian’s abhorrent behavior.
The list of offenses continues. This past July, a monitor lizard who appeared highly stressed was used as a prop. In 2017, he posted a photo of a woman straddling an endangered Galápagos tortoise. And this was after he posted a picture of himself with two lemurs on his shoulders, captioning the photo “Shoutout to @richardbranson for being rich enough to buy a private island and make it an endangered animal sanctuary.” (Of course, an actual animal sanctuary would never allow visitors to engage with animals like this.)
Not surprisingly, Bilzerian had quite the eloquent response to PETA’s complaints.
Animals are not photo props. People may trick themselves into thinking that the animals they pose with are “happy” or “rescued.” But in fact, they’re routinely injured, exploited, and even killed because of human vanity. Turtles are beaten by crowds, sharks are dragged from the ocean to die, and baby tigers are torn away from their mothers—and for what? A selfie? If there’s any risk that your photo is going to harm or stress an animal, it’s not worth it.
What You Can Do
Enjoy your party or vacation—but not at the expense of an animal’s well-being. Leave animals in peace.