Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

New BBC drama “Our Zoo” under fire over wild animal use

Posted: 3 September 2014. Updated: 3 September 2014

Controversial animal supplier recently challenged over bear appearance located in David Cameron’s constituency

Leading animals in entertainment campaign group Animal Defenders International (ADI) has voiced its dismay at the use of wild animals for new BBC1 drama “Our Zoo”. The six-part series which starts on Wednesday 3rd September and stars Lee Ingleby features penguins (including a baby), a camel, squirrel monkeys and an Asiatic black bear supplied by controversial animal supplier Amazing Animals, who recently attracted media attention over the appearance of three bear cubs at a village show. ADI is calling on the BBC to consider the welfare costs to the animals of such productions and to commit not to use wild species in future.

ADI President Jan Creamer: “Wild animals used for ‘entertainment’ are destined to suffer and ADI urges the BBC to take an ethical approach to its programming and avoid their use. As the BBC knows from its own natural history programmes, much has been learned in recent decades about the incredibly complex and emotional lives of animals. To consign them to a life of performance, for so called ‘entertainment’ is a travesty.”

Although animals in entertainment may appear to be well cared for, a life of performing is no life for wild animals who still retain the natural behaviours and instincts they would have in the wild, even when bred in captivity over several generations. Forced to perform unnatural tricks, performing animals often endure subjugation, deprivation and violence to make them conform. At Amazing Animals, and other animal suppliers, ADI has gone behind-the-scenes and revealed brutal training techniques, animals exhibiting unnatural and repetitive behaviours, and barren conditions.

Just last weekend, Chipping Norton-based Amazing Animals, situated in David Cameron’s constituency of Witney, was under fire from ADI and other animal groups over the display of three bear cubs supplied by the company for a local village show. When this was announced by ADI it attracted calls from concerned members of the public for the appearance of the young animals to be cancelled, and local and national media coverage. Despite many objections, the organisers proceeded with the booking.

In addition to providing wild and other animals for television and events, Amazing Animals also supplies animals for advertising campaigns. In February a macaque monkey called “Lily” was needlessly used in a commercial for snack food range Rustlers, its own PR agency BJL Group admitting that it “could have used a CGI monkey” instead. Like others opting to use animal ‘actors’ the company gave reassurances that Lily had been well cared for on set, however monitoring welfare during filming can be no guarantee that the animals used have not suffered during training, or that their social and welfare needs are being met on a day-to-day basis.

Where companies become aware of the reality for the animals off-set, they invariably make the decision to avoid their use in future. Having seen ADI footage of the training techniques Amazing Animals and other suppliers use, and the conditions the animals endure, Vision Express, who had used monkeys for an advertising campaign, committed not to use wild animals in future.

Amongst the animals supplied for “Our Zoo” by Amazing Animals were:

  • Two squirrel monkeys, who in the wild live in South America. There are particular and serious welfare issues concerning the use of primates in entertainment, who are usually taken from their mothers at an early age so that they bond and become reliant upon their trainer. This leads to psychological and behavioural problems that will plague them for the rest of their lives.
  • A baby penguin who, according to the BBC, was hand-reared after being neglected by her parents, resulting in the chick travelling everywhere with her trainer / keeper and being “a regular visitor on the Our Zoo set even when she wasn’t in the scene.” After this very unnatural and sad start to her life, the young animal is currently being reintroduced “to the rest of the group” of Humboldt penguins who are maintained by Amazing Animals for future use. The species are naturally found along the Pacific coast of South America.
  • An Asian black bear who joined Amazing Animals as a cub in 1985, and was hand-reared after reportedly being abandoned by his mother at a British zoo. In the wild, black bears can be found in Southeast Asia.

ADI is offering to meet with the BBC, and any other companies considering the use of wild animals for their activities, to outline our concerns and present evidence of animal suffering at Amazing Animals and other suppliers.


Notes to Editors

Contact: Jenny Platt Tel: 020 7630 3344 or 07785 552548

Animals used in “Our Zoo”{/link}

Oxfordshire show urged to pull appearance of bear cubs

Rustlers use real monkey over CGI

Vision Express ends use of wild animals in advertising

Animal Defenders International
With offices in London, Los Angeles 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.

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