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A leading primatologist, Dr. Malik, has sent a letter to director Cameron Crowe on PETA’s behalf in response to recent comments made by Crowe.
Crowe was talking about Crystal, the capuchin monkey most recently in the Hangover II, saying she is:
"not just the hottest actress around, but also the most compelling."
He also said that monkeys are:
"like Mickey Rourke [because they] do nothing you tell them to."
In the letter, Dr. Malik explains how the “highly social” monkeys are taken from their mothers at birth, kept in relative isolation, and not given proper exercise on movie sets.
She compells him to use today's technology, such as animatroincs or CGI, instead of animal actors. Not a bad idea, especially after such a big CGI hit like Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Read Dr. Malik’s entire letter after the jump…
Dear Mr. Crowe:
I am writing to you at the request of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) about an issue that I take very seriously: the use of monkeys and other primates for entertainment. I was disappointed to read your offhand comments to USA Today and Entertainment Weekly about Crystal, the monkey who was used in your upcoming film, We Bought a Zoo. In addition to joking that Crystal is "not just the hottest actress around, but also the most compelling," you jested that monkeys are "like Mickey Rourke" because they "do nothing you tell them to." I think that you must be a kind man who simply does not yet understand what makes monkeys tick—and who would be mortified to realize how damaging your remarks are to all the primatologists and others working to stop the abuse of primates. Please bear with me because I have some faith that you are not only a clever person but also a decent human being who, after reading this letter, will agree that monkeys should no longer be used in this way.
As a primatologist, I have studied monkeys for thirty years. Monkeys are intelligent, curious, and highly social animals who naturally live in groups and lead active, stimulating lives. In nature, capuchin monkeys like Crystal spend most of their time in the uppermost canopies of forests, more than 100 feet off the ground. Life in the entertainment industry denies monkeys the proper exercise, natural diets, and interaction with others of their kind that they need. In the long term, that loss of freedom and independence has been shown to lead to debilitating loneliness and depression. In other words, please think of them as living, feeling beings who belong in their rightful environment with their families, rather than on a movie set or on the red carpet.
Monkeys used for entertainment, like Crystal, are typically taken from their mothers shortly after they are born—a practice that is deeply cruel to both the baby and the mother and that denies the infants the maternal care and nurturing that they need. No matter what you are told to the contrary, please know that as "performing" monkeys grow older, become sick, or are no longer useful to their trainers, most are discarded or sold into the pet trade. Many monkeys languish in tiny cages in backyards, basements, or garages; others die as they are shuffled from one owner to the next. Some monkeys end up in roadside zoos, where these highly social animals may languish in solitary confinement for decades. PETA has photographs and case studies that would make you ill.
I do hope that you will find this information helpful, and if you direct any more films with wild animal characters, I most respectfully urge you to choose to use only the humane, modern technology available, such as advanced animatronics or computer-generated imagery. Thank you for your consideration.
Dr. Iqbal Malik
[Image via Nikki Nelson/WENN.]