UPDATE: After receiving endless pressure from PETA members and animal activists alike, NBC’s short-lived sitcom “Animal Practice” has called it quits. PETA believes the show’s low ratings reflect the public’s distaste for performing animals. NBC will air the three remaining episodes of the show, and then, according to PETA, “viewers can rest assured that cruelty to animals won’t be part of the Wednesday night TV lineup.”
Danielle LeVee, Global Animal
In opposition of animal abuse in Hollywood, PETA is protesting NBC’s new show “Animal Practice” for their use of a capuchin monkey named Crystal. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) members gathered outside NBC Studios in North Hollywood dressed in black clothing and wearing monkey masks while holding signs that read: “NBC: Animal Mal-Practice” and “I Don’t Want to Be in Your Damn TV Show.” Now, PETA is taking their protest to 30 Rock. Members plan to demonstrate outside NBC Studios in Rockefeller Center today at noon.
Although the NBC show has yet to premiere, this will be Crystal’s third mainstream appearance, following her roles in Night at the Museum and The Hangover Part II.
In a press release, the animal-rights group’s senior vice-president Lisa Lange stated: ”The cheap laughs that “Animal Practice” gets from putting a monkey in a lab coat come at a heavy cost for animals who spend their lives deprived of everything that is natural and important to them.”
Producer Gavin Polone also objects to the series, citing a primate veterinarian’s diagnosis: “Crystal’s natural response to a threat, sometimes called a fear grimace, has been reinforced and used in the show. This expression is often interpreted by the uninformed as a smile or laugh. But during her training, at some point the stimulus of fear had to be introduced.”
PETA posted a statement on their website:
“Animals who are thrust into the spotlight of Hollywood are deprived of everything that is natural and important to them throughout their lives,” PETA wrote. “In fact, many of the telltale signs of animal distress and anxiety can be seen throughout NBC’s show. For example, the “smile” that Crystal exhibits on the program is actually an expression that typically indicates fear or aggression in capuchin monkeys. Capuchin expert Dr. Eduardo Ottoni states, “[S]ince we do not usually understand their communicative behaviors properly, fear, submission, or avoidance displays can easily be mistaken for ‘smiles.'”
The American Humane Association (AHA) is the body in charge of overseeing the treatment of animals in Hollywood. Ever since the film Jesse James where blindfolded horses were killed during filming, the AHA has been on duty to supervise the treatment of animals on set and provide the infamous ending credit: “No animals were harmed in the making of this film.”
However, AHA can only go on-set with the industry’s discretion and association officials are only present while the camera is rolling. They are absent for the abuse, before and after the shot. Animals in the entertainment industry, like animals in amusement parks, are rationed food to allow trainers to use food as a reward on set. Off set, most Hollywood animals live in transport cases and are not well-cared for. They are deprived of social interactions and their natural environment. Animals are not meant to live the difficult life of an actor.