Last year at this time, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals blasted CBS’ summer series Zoo on the eve of its debut, after reading news reports in which the producers bragged about using actual wild animals whenever possible – in marked contrast to assurances PETA says CBS gave them about doing just the opposite.
This year, with Zoo back and, according to PETA, doing same, the animal-rights org has taken out ads in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and Wall Street Journal featuring a computer-generated chimpanzee handcuffed with strips of film. “Some Shows Hold More Than an Audience Captive. CBS: Use CGI to Free All Animals From ‘Zoo’,” the ad scolds.
The campaign comes just days in advance of the second-season premiere of the CBS summer series, which PETA says has moved forward with plans to use big cats, even after meeting with PETA execs who explained that wild animals used on TV shows are torn away from their mothers, often beaten during training, and locked inside tiny cages. PETA says Zoo is also reportedly planning to use actual wolves, reindeer, horses, and buffalo this season.
“If Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book can create entire realistic animal kingdoms with CGI, then CBS can clearly make its show without exploiting any live animals,” PETA SVP Lisa Lange said. “PETA is calling on the network to switch entirely to affordable, accessible, humane, and versatile technology—and stop using animals who are caged, whipped, and denied everything that’s natural and important to them.”
Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by James Patterson, Zoo details a wave of animal attacks against humans around the globe, a biologist who is trying to figure out why, and a journalist who is covering the mystery.
Last season, PETA reported Zoo used big cats, a bear, wolves, and two baboons, among many other animals, in the production. It also employed Steve Martin’s Working Wildlife, who PETA says is one of few trainers still using chimpanzees. PETA boasts CBS dropped plans to use trainer Michael Hackenberger after the org alerted producers Hackenberger allegedly had been filmed whipping a tiger. NBC News reported this past April that the Canadian zoo owner whose Bengal tiger starred in Life Of Pi had resigned after he was charged with five counts of animal cruelty.
The allegations first arose last December, after animal rights activists posted video purporting to show Hackenberger whipping a tiger, NBC News reported. In a statement, Hackenberger insisted he was “not guilty of the charges” against him, but “the welfare of the zoo and the animals that it serves has always been my principal concern. To this end I am standing down from the position of Director of Bowmanville Zoo until such time as this legal matter is resolved.”
The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which has legal authority in animal welfare cases, filed the charges against Hackenberger, NBC News reported, after spending “significant time reviewing the facility and interviewing all involved,” the group said in a statement.
CBS declined to comment.