History of Violations by Exhibitor Include Locking Apes in Cages, Inadequate Food
For Immediate Release:
October 23, 2014
Moira Colley 202-483-7382
PETA and PETA U.K. have sent urgent letters to British boy band One Direction and the company that produced the band’s new video for “Steal My Girl” urging them to cut any scenes featuring a chimpanzee and pledge never to work again with captive exotic animals and to use computer-generated imagery instead in order to avoid wildlife abuse.
In the letters, PETA and PETA U.K.—whose mottos read, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—note that chimpanzees used in the entertainment industry are torn away from their mothers shortly after birth and trained to perform under the threat of physical abuse. By the time they’re approximately 8 years old, they are too strong to be safely handled and are often discarded at roadside zoos, where they may languish for decades. The exhibitor hired for the “Steal My Girl” video, Steve Martin, has a history of violating the very minimal standards of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including by locking apes in small and barren cages for up to 18 hours a day, failing to provide animals with adequate shelter from the elements, and denying animals adequate space, clean cages, and proper feeding. Martin has a history of disposing of unwanted chimpanzees and other wild animals by posting ads in dubious animal-trade publications and placing them in poorly run roadside zoos. Two of the chimpanzees he used ended up at the atrocious Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park, and in 2004, PETA found a chimpanzee named Walter, who had also been discarded by Martin, living at a notorious roadside zoo called Amarillo Wildlife Refuge (AWR). You can view a photo of Walter’s enclosure at AWR by clicking here.
“One Direction’s millions of fans would not want the band to contribute to a chimpanzee’s suffering or let a notoriously abusive animal exhibitor make money from their new music video,” says PETA Foundation (U.S.) Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA and PETA U.K. are calling on Harry, Niall, Liam, Zayn, and Louis to help combat cruelty to animals and the removal of baby chimpanzees from their mothers.”
PETA U.K. first contacted One Direction about the video on October 9 and has since heard that Martin apparently misled the band about his record of AWA violations as well as his supposed relationship with “The American Humane Society”—an organization that does not exist.
For more information, please visit PETA.org.
PETA U.K.’s letter to One Direction follows.
9 October 2014
To: One Direction, c/o Simon Jones
From: Elisa Allen, PETA UK
Dear Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry and Louis,
Greetings from PETA UK, an affiliate of the largest animal rights organisation in the world, with more than 3 million members and supporters worldwide dedicated to animal protection.
We’re writing to you today because we’re concerned about reports that a chimpanzee, a lion and other wild and exotic animals were used in a new One Direction video. You may not know that animals used for entertainment productions, including music videos, endure horrific cruelty and suffer from extreme confinement and violent training methods. We hope you will take a moment to review the following information.
Primates are intelligent, curious and highly social animals with complex physical and psychological needs. They often become stressed and anxious when they are hauled around and forced into unfamiliar or frightening situations. Stage sets – with their bright lights, heavy equipment, and boisterous crowds – can be terrifying to animals, even when every precaution is taken. PETA US recently released a public service announcement, narrated by Adrien Brody, which illustrates the suffering that great apes such as chimpanzees endure as a result of being used for entertainment.
Anjelica Huston narrated a video for PETA US that details how chimpanzee “actors” are taken away from their highly protective mothers shortly after birth, causing irreversible psychological harm. Undercover investigations have documented that the physical abuse of apes during preproduction training is standard practice. When apes reach adolescence, at around 7 or 8 years old, they become too strong and dangerous to handle, and trainers discard them so that they can make room for new baby apes. The discarded animals, who can live into their 60s, typically end up in seedy roadside zoos or other substandard facilities. Years after Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes was released, PETA US found Chubbs, a chimpanzee featured in the film, languishing in a nightmarish roadside zoo. His cage was littered with weeks’ worth of rubbish and faeces, and he was living off dog food and rotten produce. He still lives at that seedy zoo today.
We’re equally concerned about the use of other exotic animals in the video, especially the lion. These animals are torn away from their mothers shortly after birth and subjected to abusive training methods such as electric shocks and food deprivation. At the end of the day, a tiger, lion or bear is a dangerous animal with a strong, innate predatory drive, and trainers use extreme and often violent training methods to dominate and control them through fear. When they aren’t being trained, they’re typically kept in small cages and deprived of everything natural and important to them.
We hope you’ll consider removing the wild animal scenes from the final video and make the conscientious decision never to work with wild animals again. Thank you for giving this urgent matter your consideration.