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Giraffe On “The Zookeeper” Set Dies; Whistleblower Alleges Neglect

Giraffe On “The Zookeeper” Set Dies; Whistleblower Alleges Neglect

About a month ago, PETA wrote to the cast and producers of The Zookeeper, a movie being filmed at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, to inform them that Birds & Animals Unlimited, the company that was hired to supply animals for the film, has a long list of USDA violations. PETA urged the production company to use computer-generated imagery, animatronics, and other technology instead of trained animals in the film, and to record footage of animals already housed at the zoo.

Had they listened, Tweet, an 18-year old giraffe, who was also forced to perform in Ace Ventura and numerous Toys “R” Us commercials, might still be alive today.

Tweet recently collapsed in his pen while being fed.  Necropsy results haven’t been released yet, but according to a whistleblower, the giraffe had been eating pieces of the blue tarp that covered his enclosure. The whistleblower alleges that Tweet’s “owner” and trainers were notified that the giraffe had been eating the tarp, but claims they did nothing about it.

Of course, the whole situation could have been avoided if Tweet weren’t  forced to live in captivity and appear in movies in the first place.

At least he is at peace now. According to the whistleblower, Tweet spent the last few months of his life in a 20-foot-by-20-foot stall, which was barely large enough for an 18-foot-tall giraffe to stand up or lie down in. Along with other animals on the set, Tweet was reportedly kept up all night during filming, which would disrupt a giraffe’s normal sleep schedule.

In their natural habitat, giraffes can live for 25 years and roam up to 400 square miles.  They don’t act, promote toys, or interact with humans. In captivity, trainers often beat them, shock them with electric prods, drug them, deprive them of food, and use other cruel methods to coerce them into performing stressful, unnatural, and even painful acts to amuse humans.

The Zookeeper producers claim that American Humane Association (AHA) representatives were on the set, but this doesn’t guarantee that animals are safe. The AHA does not monitor the training of animals or their living and transport conditions. The AHA’s film-monitoring unit is even funded by the Screen Actors Guild–the very industry that it is monitoring.

PETA is calling on the USDA to investigate Tweet’s death, and it is asking other people involved with the production of the movie to come forward with information about animal neglect or abuse on the set. It is just as important, however, for caring people not to patronize films that feature animals. The animals may be irresistible and the movie may look amusing, but what happens behind the scenes is seldom as innocuous as one might hope.    

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43 comments

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2:05PM PDT on Apr 28, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

7:44PM PDT on Mar 25, 2013

Sad

7:43PM PDT on Mar 25, 2013

Sad

8:52AM PST on Nov 23, 2012

PETA does all it can with what it has to work with. I am deeply grateful to them for spotlighting atrocities and unforgivable treatment of animals all over the globe. That is half the battle. Those of us who are able might consider donating to PETA and worth animal rescue organizations to further their effects. That, and signing petitions and letters to the responsible parties. Every little bit helps!

4:57AM PST on Nov 23, 2012

Svendsen F. wrong movie.

this animal died making the one with the talking animals.

4:50AM PST on Nov 23, 2012

Giraffes "can do circus tricks"?

4:43AM PST on Nov 23, 2012

PETA and AHA = all hot air and no action.

It's not enough to write letters to producers. PETA should have sent someone with video cameras to the set to take evidence and behave like normal HPCA inspectors do.

Why did even the whistleblower wait so long ("for months") before bringing the situation to public notice?

Americans, you spend too much time protecting your wallets, and not enough time protecting vulnerable people and animals. This puts an enormous strain on those who live the other way round. But you love employing people with fancy job titles in interesting NGOs like the AHA, who then hide behind the wall painted with the message "it's not our job".

6:47AM PST on Nov 22, 2012

AHA's remit seems very limited to such an extent as to be useless. Their endorsement of any film etc. therefore is totally unreliable.

7:12AM PST on Nov 21, 2012

Sickening, sickening, sickening! It's always about $$$. The use of live animals for movies should be outlawed. No agency can totally protect the animal from abuse, neglect, etc. because animals cannot speak to tell their story. Humans can and they have options. With the digital era alive and well there is no need for live animals to be used. "War Horse" displayed that conveniently.

4:50PM PDT on Oct 8, 2009

I'm so sick of films using animals for their personal gain. Tweet should of been roaming free I hope he R.I.P and other movie makers taken notice wakeup to them and told using animals that should be in the wild or a large comfortable zoo. STOP espeical using monkey's of any kind I now refuse to watch aqny movies with them it terrible.

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