April Truitt’s message to Hollywood heavyweight Cameron Crowe was succinct: Quit monkeying around with primates in movies.
Truitt, who is the executive director of the Nicholasville-based Primate Rescue Center, teamed up with the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance and sent a letter to the Hollywood director asking him not to use monkeys or any other primate in movies. Crowe’s movie “We Bought a Zoo” is scheduled to hit theaters Dec. 23.
“Monkeys and apes are adorable as babies, but the novelty soon wears off and they grow into strong adults who are strong-willed, naturally curious and destructive, and capable of causing some pretty serious injuries,” wrote the NAPSA members, an excerpt of which was provided by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “The end result is an untold number of monkeys and apes languishing in cages, perhaps suffering from illness, malnutrition, or just plain loneliness.”
Truitt said Crowe and Fox went back on their word by featuring a capuchin monkey named Crystal, and other wild animals in the movie.
“What we find and what data has shown is the portrayal of these animals in close proximity to humans and used as cute little human substitutes and performers tends to feed the demand for these animals as pets,” Truitt said in a phone interview Monday. “Interestingly, a primatologist met with Fox prior to production of the film, and Fox assured them that there would be no live primates used in the film.
“So having gone back up on their word, they’ve sort of opened themselves up to criticism when they in fact did decide to use this little capuchin whose name is Crystal, not only as an actor in the movie, but also in various promotions for the movie.”
As of Monday, Truitt said NAPSA hasn’t heard back from Crowe, but she said the plea will not have been in vain.
“I think the attention it has brought to the issue will always be important,” she said. “You can’t hear it enough times that these animals shouldn’t be used in entertainment and they don’t make appropriate pets; we can’t say it enough.”
Truitt said when movies such as Crowe’s come out, interest in primates as pets rise.
“There is always an upswing of interest as these animals as pets when movies like this appear,” she said.
“We Bought a Zoo” is a film set in southern California where a father moves his young family to the countryside to renovate and re-open a struggling zoo, according to www.imdb.com.
The Primate Rescue Center is home to 11 chimpanzees and 39 monkeys. For more information on the Primate Rescue Center, visit www.primate-rescue.org.