Chimpanzee Used in DiCaprio Blockbuster Languishing at Shady Roadside Zoo

PETA Calls for Investigation of Sarasota Facility After Footage Reveals Tiger With Sores, Monkey With Hair Loss, and More

For Immediate Release:
September 13, 2017

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Sarasota, Fla.

PETA has obtained new video footage showing a chimpanzee named Chance—who appeared alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street—being yanked by a leash around his neck while forced to perform circus-style tricks at the notorious Rosaire family–operated Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary in Florida. In light of the disturbing footage, PETA sent a letter today to the U.S. Department of Agriculture calling for an investigation of the roadside zoo for apparent violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

In the letter, PETA points out that the footage also shows a capuchin monkey with severe hair loss on his or her back and tail that has worsened since PETA first reported it two years earlier and a tiger with apparent large pressure sores on his front legs—likely a result of living on concrete—who was seen sucking his tail, which is a type of self-injurious behavior. Many animals at the facility live in small concrete cages and exhibit signs of psychological distress, including tigers and bears who were seen pacing repeatedly and a lion who was frantically digging, likely out of frustration.

“This smart chimpanzee deserves to be sent to a naturalistic sanctuary, where he won’t be jerked by a rope around his neck and forced to perform stupid tricks, and the other suffering animals do, too,” says PETA Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA is calling on authorities to investigate this shady operation that treats animals as spectacles for human amusement.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that chimpanzees are separated from their mothers at an early age before being forced into Hollywood productions. Eyewitness investigations have documented that physical abuse of apes during preproduction training is standard practice: One primatologist who went undercover at an ape training facility witnessed trainers beating young chimpanzees with hammers and rocks. When great apes become strong enough to fight back, they’re routinely discarded at shabby roadside zoos, where they face decades of loneliness in barren cages. Oscar winner Anjelica Huston has narrated a video for PETA about the cruelty and isolation faced by great apes in the entertainment business. More recently, in this PETA video, Planet of the Apes‘ Andy Serkis refers to the use of real apes in films as “intolerable and cruel.”

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