USA Network Hit With PETA Plea After ‘Briarpatch’ Animal Trainer Charged

Disturbing Footage Obtained by PETA Reveals Suffering and Squalid Conditions at Home of Hollywood Animal Supplier

For Immediate Release:
February 4, 2020

Contact:
Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Belen, N.M. – PETA is calling on USA Network officials to stop using wild animals in TV productions after it obtained bodycam footage from inside the New Mexico home of an animal supplier for the network’s show Briarpatch. The video reveals a house of horrors for the animals held captive there, including a capuchin monkey, a kangaroo, a 2-month-old mountain lion, and an alligator—the mountain lion and alligator have since reportedly died.

According to documents obtained by PETA from New Mexico’s Department of Game and Fish, exhibitors Kip and Chelsey Lewis—doing business as A to Z Film Animals—were each charged with six counts of illegal importation for unlawfully acquiring and holding several wild animals in July 2019. Video from the seizure—which PETA has reviewed and sent to USA Network—showed more than a dozen dogs being kept in kennels that were stacked on top of one another in a garage, animals crammed into closets, and, before her apparent death, the alligator being held in a small, filthy outdoor pit.

“Wildlife smuggling, squalid cages, and animal deaths are no surprise in an industry that treats sensitive animals as props,” says PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange. “This case is exactly why PETA is calling on production studios to embrace the future of film and TV and use computer-generated imagery and animatronics instead of real animals.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—notes that the Lewises also apparently attempted to conceal animals from authorities by claiming to have sent them out of the state, while actually hiding them at other properties in New Mexico.

PETA urges anyone who witnesses animals being used for film and television productions to report it at AnimalsInFilmAndTV.com/#Abuse or contact PETA’s confidential whistleblower hotline at 323-210-2233.

PETA’s letter to USA Network President Chris McCumber is available here. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.

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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