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PETA Protests at 'Zookeeper' Premiere Over Abuse Allegations

About 20 demonstrators gather across the street from the Regency Village Theatre on Wednesday, alleging mistreatment of a giraffe and other animals used in the film.

A group of animal rights activists protested at the premiere of the movie Zookeeper on Wednesday in response to allegations of animal abuse and the death of a giraffe that appeared in the film.

The giraffe, named Tweet, collapsed and died the day after wrapping his scenes in 2009, said Jone Bouman, communications director for the American Humane Association's Film and Television Unit.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals reportedly wrote to the film's producers about possible animal mistreatment, including the use of beating and electric shocks, by a company supplying animals to the set. Additionally, a whistle-blower told PETA in 2009 that a small and unsafe enclosure may have contributed to Tweet's death.

A necropsy on the giraffe did not substantiate any claims that the giraffe died from eating pieces of tarp in its enclosure or that the enclosure was too small, Bouman said.

Films that feature animals can earn a "no animals were harmed" disclaimer from the AHA that appears in the film's end credits. An animal safety representative from AHA was on the Zookeeper set during filming, a requirement for earning the credit. The giraffe was checked by a veterinarian the day before he died, Bouman said.

Across the street from the Regency Village Theatre, about 20 PETA supporters held signs with slogans. Jennifer Miguel of Santa Monica wore a PETA T-shirt and carried a handbag with a "meat is murder" sticker.

"I've been a PETA supporter for 10 years," she said. "I'm here because I'm an animal rights supporter."

PETA advocates for alternatives to live animals in films, such as computer-generated imagery. Other supporters at the Zookeeper premiere held signs that featured a still from a video in which an elephant appears to receive an electric shock from a handler.

"Wild animals exploited by filmmakers are scared, confused and out of their element, but time is money, so if they don't perform on cue, they can expect to be beaten or given an electric shock," PETA Director Delcianna Winders said in a press release.

"The fact is that PETA was not on set," Bouman said. "That is conjecture on their part."

Because the results of the necropsy were not immediately available to determine whether Tweet was harmed on set, the film does not bear the AHA "no animals were harmed" end credit.

Julie O'Connor July 09, 2011 at 03:18 AM
No, I will not see it. I have two young children who would be the target demographic. However, I will not use my money to support the punishment and cruelty necessary to make wild animals perform tricks. There is undercover video of the elephant used in the film being beaten and shocked by trainers. It's the same elephant who was in the movie "Water for Elephants". I can't believe that this is a remotely acceptable form of entertainment. It's time Hollywood gets a clear message to use CGI instead of wild animals.
Buster Keaton July 10, 2011 at 12:05 AM
So the lesson you're teaching your kids is make wild assumptions based on hearsay? Did you even read this article? Would the humane society (who, according to this, were on set for the entire production) allow an animal to be shocked, mistreated or abused? The animals on these sets are treated and fed well and all of their treatment must meet the level of acceptance set by the humane society. Maybe someone should CGI mothers instead of letting kids grow up with misinformed, accusatory harpies.
Charlotte July 10, 2011 at 01:24 PM
@BK The AHA is only present during *filming* and is not present at all times (e.g. training sessions).
scarey August 17, 2011 at 12:01 PM
DID YOU even read the article??? Because if an AHA rep was on the set overseeing EVERY minute of the live animal treatment during this production, then why are they still having to wait for the results of the necropsy to DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT TWEET WAS HARMED ON THE SET, and because of this, the film does NOT bear the "no animals were harmed" credit by the AHA.

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