Everything is better with a monkey, isn't it? Those cheery
little furry faces, the funny noises they make, the way their hands look so
much like ours, but they can also climb all over the place. They should
basically star in all of the movies, shouldn't they? Sadly, they probably
shouldn't. And we've been reminded of this fact as production gears up for Pirates
of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales in Australia.
Humane Society International Australia and a number of other
organizations have been calling for the denial of permits being filed for the
film to bring over two capuchin monkeys to the country to reprise the role of
Jack the Monkey. Which, if you remember the past four Pirates flicks, the
primate Jack (played in movies 2 through 4 by a capuchin named Chiquita), was almost as good for comic relief as Johnny Depp.
At first, those of us who aren't card-carrying PETA members
might be tempted to dismiss this protest as a little extreme. But read a little
more of their argument, and it starts to tear at our monkey-loving souls. "Capuchin monkeys naturally live in large
family groups in the rainforests of South and Central America and have
complex physical and psychological need—a film set is no place for such an
intelligent, social animal and the life of a monkey 'actor' is sadly far
removed from the life they should have," says Cordelia Britton, the
campaign officer for the U.K.'s wildlife sanctuary Wild Futures, in a press
release. That's hard to swallow when we imagine the glamorous Hollywood
lifestyle of Crystal the monkey (The Hangover Part II, Night at the Museum). Unfortunately, her appearance in those movies inspired
a lot of people (who might not be aware of the how much work and responsibility it is) to go out and buy capuchin monkeys as
pets, and then mistreat them. That doesn't sit so well.
Then HSI points out
that " use of wild animals as actors may even have a negative impact on
the survival of animal populations in the wild, by increasing demand for that
species as pets and by diminishing concern for their conservation in the wild."
Also not so good.
Finally, there's Hollywood's kinda crappy track record when
it comes to animal safety in general. This expose from the Hollywood Reporter,
about all the times that "No Animals Were Harmed" disclaimer at the
end of movies was untrue, may possibly make you cry. The second Pirates movie apparently killed a lot of fish.
There hasn't been any official response from Disney or the
companies that manage capuchin stars, and they usually don't say much about
protests like these. We'd be open to hearing their side of things. Show us how
Chiquita and her pals really live and how much they help the cause for monkeys
in the wild, please. Make us not long for CGI everything.