PETA is calling supporters to action more than a week after two chimpanzees went to the movies for the premier of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in Myrtle Beach.
The two animals owned by Bhagavan Antle, founder and director of T.I.G.E.R.S. in Myrtle Beach, went to the movie at Carmike Cinemas at Broadway at the Beach July 14 in an event that was filmed and aired on national television shows including Good Morning America the next day.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals asks members and supporters to contact Carmike Cinemas about getting “in line with other venues and agencies” by adopting a policy that prohibits wild animals at all theaters.
“It’s cruel and dangerous to use chimpanzees for publicity stunts such as this — and it flies directly in the face of the message of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the beliefs of its director, who uses computer-generated imagery rather than real apes in his films,” says PETA Foundation deputy general counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is calling on Carmike Cinemas not to contribute to cruelty to animals and to pledge never to host exploitative wildlife acts again.”
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Antel could not immediately be reached for comment.
Rik Dickinson, with Encore Video Productions which filmed the chimps at the theater, said the pair were well behaved throughout the event. There were no incidents involving the chimps during the event.
“They were with two very professional handlers who were very familiar with both chimps,” he said. “They actually watched the short part of the movie we used to recreate their experience so we could videotape them, and one even kept reaching for the handlers’ popcorn without taking his eyes off the screen. They really enjoyed themselves.”
Dickinson said he has worked with Antle several times and has “always found the care taken by his trained handlers to be very friendly to all animals.”
“Bringing chimps to a movie theater is dangerous for the apes and the humans,” said Brittany Peet, counsel for PETA based in Washington, D.C. “There’s no reason for wild animals to be in a movie theater.”