“If The Walking Dead can use animatronics and computer-generated imagery to stun audiences with the image of a tiger and not use a real animal, so can Zoo,” the animal rights organization’s SVP Lisa Lange said Wednesday. The reference to AMC’s zombie apocalypse blockbuster is about Shiva, the fully digitally fake tiger and furry sidekick to Season 7 new character King Ezekiel, played by non-CGI actor Khary Payton.
“From CGI ants and cockroaches to a beautifully conceived CGI panther, CBS has proved that it can produce the show without using live animals,” the PETA exec added. “With rampant animal abuse in the industry, the network is obligated to do its part to help end it, and if it agrees to use only CGI next season, PETA staff, members and supporters will be the first to tune in.”
PETA has been chasing CBS over the animal-uprising series based on the 2012 bestseller by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge since Zoo debuted in 2015, and allegedly promises were made that weren’t kept. After much fuss but little reaction from the House of Moonves, PETA brought out a big beast and had its longtime supporter and long, longtime CBS game show host Bob Barker enter the fray come Season 2.
The ex-Price Is Right frontman wrote a public letter to producers CBS Television Studios demanding a network-wide ban on the use of wild animals in future CBS programming. The letter came just after newspaper ads with a computer-generated chimpanzee handcuffed with strips of film. The ad ran in the NYT, the L.A. Times and the Wall Street Journal ahead of Zoo’s Season 2 June 28 launch.
“We have the greatest respect for PETA and its cause,” CBS said in response. “The health, safety and welfare of animals in our care during filming continues to be our highest priority.”
Having said that, with Zoo hitting series lows this season, CBS might want to be getting all the eyeballs it can – and PETA says it can promise that, or apparently watch The Walking Dead, which is back on October 23.