Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

ADI to Warner Bros: Rock of Ages hits a sour note by using a live baboon

Posted: 15 June 2012

Animal Defenders International (ADI) blasted the makers of the new movie Rock of Ages for using a live performing primate. ADI is criticising the movie makers for giving no thought to the poor message this sends when, according to the international species data experts, IUCN, 48% of all primate species are threatened with extinction.

Even worse, the addition of the baboon to the movie is completely gratuitous, since this character was not present in the Broadway production from which the movie was adapted. The unfortunate animal was included at the request of star Tom Cruise (who plays the rockstar, Stacee Jaxx) and who apparently demanded to work with a “monkey” according to Vanity Fair, a decision described by ADI as “thoughtless” and “irresponsible”.

ADI has written to Warner Bros. Entertainment CEO Barry Meyer asking for a meeting to discuss the controversial use of the baboon, and is calling for the movie production magnate to lead the industry to protect animals used for entertainment.

The baboon was provided by a company called “Wild about Monkeys”, which provides animals for entertainment in the film industry, and at public performances at county fairs.

Primates are intelligent, social mammals who in nature would live in complex societies where they show co-operation and compassion within their extended family. The performing animal trainer or supplier has to break this bond and make themselves the centre of a young primate’s universe. The baby is removed from its family and taught to depend upon the human trainer for social contact, nourishment, and approval; this ensures dependence, control and obedience. As a result, social deprivation and stress are inevitable consequences of the use of primates as performers and it can be seen when the animals develop abnormal behaviours.

“Our undercover investigations have shown that typically any discipline or abuse of captive animals used for entertainment tends to occur off set and behind the scenes, while the animals are being trained or kept isolated in their cages” according to ADI’s Chief Executive Jan Creamer. “The movie-going public can’t be assured by ‘no animals were harmed’ endorsements because those guidelines only cover what happens on set. What is important is the animal’s whole life experience. Those who use performing animals must take responsibility for any suffering or deprivation that the animal has experienced during its whole lifetime.”

Rock of Ages received a “No Animals Were Harmed” endorsement from the American Humane Association. However movies like Water for Elephants also received the same high recommendation, which spurred outrage last year among many movie-going public and made news headlines around the world after ADI released shocking undercover video footage of violent training sessions which occurred long before the elephant, Tai, was brought to the studio. The video clearly shows Tai and other elephants being hit and ‘hooked’ with bullhooks – a club like weapon with a sharpened point and hook – and shocked with electric shocking devices to get them to perform the same tricks seen in the film.

“Studies have identified that performing animals are deprived of all the normal, social and mental stimulation that primates enjoy,” said Creamer. “They live in barren environments, where they remain until wanted for a performance. They are trained to do tricks and their compliance may be gained through a withdrawal of food, water or affection.”

ADI is asking audiences to walk away from entertainment that uses animals, including movies with animal actors, and is calling on studios like Warner Bros. to look toward using CGI – computer generated imagery – and other advanced technology to replace the use of animals in advertisement, television and movies.

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Notes for Editors:

Media contact:
Angie Greenaway, Animal Defenders International
Tel: 020 7630 3344 or 07785 552548

Reference: International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN – 48% of all primate species are threatened with extinction – accessed 15th June 2012

Reference: Primate intelligence and social needs

Animal Defenders International
With offices in Los Angeles, London and Bogota, ADI campaigns across the globe on animals in entertainment, providing technical advice to governments, securing progressive animal protection legislation, drafting regulations and rescuing animals in distress. ADI has a worldwide reputation for providing video and photographic evidence exposing the behind-the-scenes suffering in industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. ADI rescues animals all over the world, educates the public on animals and environmental issues.

© Animal Defenders International 2018