Talk Show Regular’s License Denial May Spell End of Late Night Segments With Wild Animals

For Immediate Release:
June 21, 2021

Contact:
Moira Colley 202-483-7382

New York – Audiences are returning to talk show sets, but that may not be the case for wild animals. PETA has obtained state records revealing that prominent animal supplier Grant Kemmerer cannot exhibit bears, primates, big cats, or other wild animals on any in-state show until at least 2023. For years, unauthorized TV hosts and celebrities handled regulated species on-air, but after a PETA tip, New York authorities appear to be cracking down on the practice.

In 2019, PETA alerted the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) that Kemmerer had allowed prohibited direct contact between regulated wild animals and members of the public—namely, Robert and Bindi Irwin, Jimmy Fallon, George Stephanopoulos, and Wendy Williams. The NYSDEC cited these incidents—as well as instances in which Kemmerer allowed people at a house party to touch big cats, which PETA had also brought to the agency’s attention—in its denial of Kemmerer’s license, for which he cannot reapply for two years. PETA released a new video warning other exhibitors that they could be next.

“Thrusting terrified baby tigers and monkeys into talk show hosts’ hands was cruel back in the Johnny Carson days of The Tonight Show, and it’s indefensible and illegal today,” says PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange. “PETA is celebrating the denial of Kemmerer’s license as the beginning of the end for wild-animal sideshows on New York’s late night soundstages.”

Kemmerer has supplied animals for The Tonight Show, The Wendy Williams Show, Fox & Friends, and many others. While the animals may be presented by public figures such as the Irwins on camera, they’re often owned and trucked to studios by Kemmerer, who keeps them at his compound in Pennsylvania. Animals used for talk show appearances are typically separated from their mothers as babies, and some—who are dragged to sets to be handled in front of bright lights and noisy studio audiences—are even still nursing, such as a black bear Kemmerer brought to The Tonight Show.

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

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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