WATCH: Why Wild Animals Don’t Belong on Talk Shows

Forcing wild animals to appear on talk shows is never OK. Talk show hosts who exploit them for views need to leave them alone and get new material. Discover why wild animals don’t belong on talk shows and what you can do about it:

  1. When wildlife exhibitors work the talk show circuit, exploited and often terrified animals endure excessive handling.

    These animals are typically crated for extended periods of time, transported to and from sets, and forced to endure noisy crowds that can cause them a great deal of stress.

  2. Animals used on talk shows are typically torn away from their mothers as infants.

    This practice is cruel to both the babies and their mothers. Infants in these situations are denied the maternal care necessary for normal development, while mothers whose babies are stolen from them suffer from emotional and psychological stress.

  3. Those who interact with captive wild animals or observe them being handled and treated as playthings may be inclined to disturb wildlife.

    This exposure to animal exploitation may also make some likelier to buy exotic animals as “pets.”

  4. Many wild animals suffer and die in the hands of negligent and incompetent caretakers.

    Others are often left to languish inside small cages in backyards, basements, or roadside zoos or are killed.

  5. This is not education. This is not conservation. Make no mistake—this is animal exploitation.

    Forcing a wild animal onto a bright, noisy soundstage surrounded by shouting crowds is cruel, and so is teaching viewers—including childrenthat this sort of treatment is acceptable.

  6. Public opposition to the use of animals in entertainment has never been stronger.

    So using animals on talk shows is harmful to them, and kind viewers everywhere are resistant to watching these exploitative segments.

PETA Is at the Forefront of Stopping This Cruelty

Our efforts are increasing public awareness, and they’re catching up with wildlife exhibitors. In November 2018, for example, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation cited Wild World of Animals exhibitor Grant Kemmerer (who regularly supplies animals for segments on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon) for five violations of state wildlife laws. The citation was issued in response to a complaint made by PETA, and the agency fined him a total of $7,300 for the violations.

On October 17, 2019, we sent a letter requesting that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) investigate Kemmerer for apparently violating the terms of his exhibitor permits by allowing members of the public (namely, Robert and Bindi Irwin, Jimmy Fallon, and Wendy Williams) to have direct contact with wild animals during appearances on various talk shows. We requested that authorities (once again) throw the book at this hack for seemingly violating—on camera—the clear conditions of his exhibitor license. In 2021, after the NYDEC concluded its investigation, we obtained state records revealing that Kemmerer’s license renewal application was denied, meaning that he cannot exhibit bears, primates, big cats, or any other regulated animals on The Tonight Show, The Today Show, or The Wendy Williams Show—or anywhere else in the state—for the next two years! The NYDEC cited the television appearances that PETA had tipped it off to—as well as instances in which Kemmerer allowed people at a house party to touch big cats, which we had also brought to the agency’s attention—in its denial of his license.

“PETA is celebrating the denial of Kemmerer’s license as the beginning of the end for wild-animal sideshows on New York’s soundstages,” said PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange in triumphant response.

After hearing from PETA and following months of letters and mounting pressure from the organization and animal rights activists, a representative for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon confirmed that exhibitor Robert Irwin would not include wild animals in his September 26, 2019, appearance. As promised, not a single one was forced onto the stage that night! It was progress, and we were so glad that animals were spared the bright lights and shouting crowds. Of course, we continued to urge Fallon to go one step further and commit to never using wild animals on the show again.

A few months later, after receiving urgent letters from PETA, late-night talk show host Lilly Singh brought animal exhibitor Bindi Irwin onto the A Little Late with Lilly Singh stage without a single wild animal. Instead, the pair opted to show adoptable dogs to the audience—a move that we suggested in our letters.

Then, after Jimmy Kimmel Live! received multiple letters from PETA urging it to end its cruel wild-animal segments, the show scrapped reported plans for exhibitor Dave Salmoni to appear on its March 12, 2020, episode.

In previous Jimmy Kimmel Live! appearances, Salmoni (above) visibly struggled to handle a screaming baby mountain lion and a desperately flailing tiger cub, animals who were likely supplied by shady third parties. He has apparently worked with Kemmerer, who was caught on camera repeatedly striking a young tiger in the face at a party in New York. Salmoni has also apparently used animals supplied by Wild Wonders, Inc., which has been cited a dozen times for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including for caging a highly social monkey alone after his or her cagemate was euthanized.

In October 2020, we released the video above asking talk show hosts returning to studios after taking a break because of the COVID-19 pandemic to commit to leaving wild-animal segments behind.

Talk Show Hosts Need to Use Their Position to Protect Animals, Not Hurt Them

Animals deserve to be left alone. Fallon, Kimmel, Wendy Williams …

… and other hosts should make a permanent commitment to featuring only guests who choose to appear.

See Something? Say Something

If you witness animals being used for a film or a TV show, get in touch with PETA right away. Call our confidential whistleblower hotline at 323-210-2233, or click below to fill out a form online.

Report Animal Abuse in Film and Television

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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