PETA Files Lawsuit in Behalf of Former Hollywood Chimpanzee

Notorious Animal Trainer’s Former ‘Star’ Found Languishing in Roadside Zoo

For Immediate Release:
January 20, 2016

Moira Colley 202-483-7382


This week, PETA filed a federal lawsuit in behalf of lone chimpanzee Joe, who was exploited and then discarded by Hollywood animal trainer Steve Martin, on the grounds that he’s being held by his current owner at The Mobile Zoo in Alabama under conditions that violate the Endangered Species Act. Joe—who spends his days isolated in a tiny, barren enclosure where he has been harassed by visitors—was transferred to the roadside zoo when he was 11 years old by Martin, who has supplied animals for film and television productions, including Parks and Recreation, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Zookeeper, and CBS’ Zoo.

“Steve Martin continues to keep animals in deplorable conditions only to discard them at roadside zoos when they mature beyond his ability to control them,” says PETA Vice President Lisa Lange. “PETA calls on audiences to avoid movies and TV shows that feature live animals, who endure endless abuse, deprivation, and intimidation during training—and, like Joe, a lifetime of loneliness and neglect once their ‘career’ is over.”

PETA is also seeking a court order to move Joe—who’s been living in solitary confinement for 17 years—to an accredited sanctuary, where he will receive the care and opportunity to socialize with other chimpanzees that he desperately needs. The lawsuit comes on the heels of PETA’s release of shocking footage of another Hollywood animal trainer relentlessly beating a young Siberian tiger up to 20 times.

Martin has been cited numerous times for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including failing to provide adequate veterinary care, locking chimpanzees and orangutans in “night housing” for up to 18 hours a day with no toys for enrichment, failing to shelter animals adequately from the cold, and denying animals adequate space, ventilation, clean cages, and proper food.

Martin is one of the few remaining trainers who continue to use intelligent and psychologically complex primates for entertainment even though chimpanzees were granted full Endangered Species Act protections in 2015. The use of stunning computer-generated imagery instead of a real bear in Golden Globe Award winner The Revenant and various animals in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah  shows that there’s no need to subject apes or any other animals to the stress and abuse of filmmaking.

For more information, please visit

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.

Get the Latest Tips—Right in Your Inbox
We’ll e-mail you weekly with the latest in vegan recipes, fashion, and more!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.