It turns out film critics weren’t the only ones who hated the new Kevin James movie “Zookeeper,” out Friday.
Patch reports that as the film’s stars arrived at the Regency Village Theater in Westwood, California, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals met them with shouts and signs. (PETA protests pigeon racing at Tyson’s U.S. home)
At the premiere this week, PETA activists protested the film over allegations of animal abuse. The organization is most upset over the death of Tweet, a giraffe featured in the movie, which collapsed and died after shooting on the film wrapped.
In a statement, PETA said, “Tweet spent the last few months of his life confined to a 20-foot-by-20-foot stall, which was barely large enough for the 18-foot-tall giraffe to lie down in. In their natural habitat, giraffes live in vast home ranges of up to 400 square miles.”
PETA’s website says an elephant used in the film may have been abused as well. The organization says it has seen video footage of animal trainers at Have Trunk Will Travel (the company that provided elephants for “Zookeeper”) beating and shocking elephants.
The Huffington Post reports that the American Humane Association (AHA), which had representatives on set throughout filming, refutes PETA’s claims. But PETA says that having AHA representatives “is no guarantee that animals were not exploited, hurt, or even killed during production” because the AHA is only present during filming and not during off-set training, “where abuse is most likely to occur.”
PETA activists weren’t the only ones unhappy with “Zookeeper.” The film critic aggregation site rottentomatoes.com finds the movie has a 15% approval rating. Scott Bowles of USA Today said, “It’s hard to think of a human finding much to laugh about in this wounded beast.” The Austin Chronicle’s Kimberley Jones, meanwhile, wrote, “I’m not gonna sugarcoat this: Movies don’t have to be this bad.”