PETA, Scientists Take Aim at TBS’s ‘Go-Big Show’

Group Urges Network Not to Air Dangerous Animal Exploitation Acts

For Immediate Release:
January 13, 2021

Contact:
Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Los Angeles – This morning, PETA fired off a letter—cosigned by a PETA Foundation captive wildlife veterinarian and a group of New York University researchers—to TBS General Manager Brett Weitz urging the network not to air the alligator and snake acts advertised to appear in upcoming episodes of its new “extreme” talent competition, Go-Big Show.

PETA points to the researchers’ findings of systemic welfare harm for alligators used for alligator wrestling performances. The researchers conclude that “alligator wrestling … furthers traditional notions of dominion that undermine welfare and conservation aims.”

“If Go-Big Show airs these reptile acts, it will legitimize the harassment of wildlife and may even encourage viewers to buy or torment wildlife themselves,” says PETA Foundation Captive Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Monica Bando. “The welfare of reptiles has long been overlooked, and PETA is urging TBS to stop providing a platform that perpetuates wildlife exploitation and abuse.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Weitz follows.

January 13, 2021

Dear Mr. Weitz:

We, as a representative of PETA and scientists, urge you not to air upcoming scenes of stressed, taunted animals on Go-Big Show. Promotional videos for the series show a visibly distressed alligator and live snakes crammed into a contestant’s mouth. The use of reptiles or any animal in this manner undermines efforts to improve their welfare and conservation.

Forced handling and restraint of alligators and snakes is the epitome of a stressful and uncontrollable event that these animals cannot escape. Crocodilians have refused food for days to months after events in which they were handled. The use of ropes to restrain alligators often results in significant and prolonged thrashing, risking physical injury and even lethal levels of stress. In addition, a recent study (Riordan, Jacquet, and Franks, 2020), concluded that “alligator wrestling attractions may be causing systemic welfare harms to the alligators involved with few, if any, environmental conservation payoffs.”

Reptiles have unique and complex physical, behavioral, social, and mental adaptations that enable them to thrive in their natural habitats, in which they choose where to roam, when to bask in the sun, and how to communicate with other members of their species. Growing scientific evidence has documented play behavior in alligators and the cognitive abilities of reptiles, including their capacity to learn and remember.

In the midst of a pandemic stemming from wildlife exploitation, there is increasing awareness of the need to protect reptiles and other wildlife. We are all re-examining how we can be more empathetic, and the entertainment industry is in a pivotal position to promote greater compassion and consideration for all animals by refusing to exploit them for entertainment.

Please assure us that harmful activities involving animals will not appear on Go-Big Show now or in the future.

Sincerely,

Monica K.H. Bando, M.S., B.V.Sc., Ph.D.

Captive Wildlife Veterinarian

PETA Foundation

Casey Riordan

M.A. Animal Studies

New York University

Jennifer Jacquet, M.S., Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Environmental Studies

New York University

Becca Franks, Ph.D.

Research Scientist of Environmental Studies

New York University

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“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