Plea to Kate McKinnon: Don’t Use Animals in ‘Joe Exotic’ Scripted Series

PETA Urges Production Company, Series Star and Producer to Use CGI or Existing Footage and Not Force Animals to Perform

For Immediate Release:
March 27, 2020

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Los Angeles

This morning, PETA sent urgent letters asking Kate McKinnon and Universal Content Productions not to use real animals in their upcoming series about Joseph Maldonado-Passage (aka “Joe Exotic”), the big-cat exhibitor profiled in the Netflix docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, which chronicles the events that led to his 22-year prison sentence for murder-for-hire and wildlife crimes charges.

PETA points out that animals suffer when used for entertainment, whether by roadside zoo operators like those featured in Tiger King or by trainers for the film and TV industry. PETA and law enforcement investigations have uncovered animals being whipped, illegally imported, and kept in deplorable conditions by animal suppliers for Hollywood—so the group is urging the new series’ producers to use only computer-generated imagery (CGI), animatronics, or even existing footage of big cats and other animals.

“Netflix’s Tiger King is calling critical attention to the abuse and neglect endured by big cats and other wild animals used for entertainment—progress that will be undone if real wild animals are used in Universal Content Production’s upcoming series,” writes PETA Senior Manager of Animals in Film and Television Lauren Thomasson. “We hope you’ll agree that using technology such as CGI or animatronics or existing footage is the only conscionable way of depicting animals for your series.”

PETA has been working for years to shut down Joe Exotic’s facility, most recently known as The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. The group’s undercover investigation revealed that tiger cubs were dying at his facility and documented that animals with gaping wounds were denied adequate veterinary care and confined to cramped and filthy enclosures. PETA managed to rescue nearly 50 animals from Joe Exotic’s custody, all of whom are currently at reputable sanctuaries, and it also filed two lawsuits against facilities that acquired federally protected big-cat cubs from Joe Exotic for alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). PETA recently prevailed in its lawsuit against a Florida exhibitor—the court’s ruling confirms that prematurely separating tiger cubs from their mothers and using them in public encounters violates the ESA.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, which is the human-supremacist worldview that other animals are disposable. For more information, please visit

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