PETA Calls on CBS' 'Zoo' to Stop "Exploiting" Wild Animals

Zoo S01E01 Still - H 2015
Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/CBS

Zoo S01E01 Still - H 2015

The animal rights group demanded the network use CGI rather than live animals.

CBS' Zoo has come under fire from the animal rights group PETA for using captive wild animals in the summer drama, which shoots in Vancouver and stars James Wolk.

PETA, in a print ad released days ahead of the second-season premiere, demanded the network "use CGI to free all animals from Zoo."

"If The Jungle Book can create entire realistic animal kingdoms with CGI, then CBS can clearly make its show without exploiting any live animals," PETA senior vp Lisa Lange said Tuesday in a statement.

Lange in a separate statement told The Hollywood Reporter that her group supported animated projects like My Little Pony, which rely on digital technology, "rather than forcing live animals to perform." She added that horses especially most frequently die or are injured on set, "as these easily frightened prey animals are often placed in stressful and dangerous situations."

"The future of Hollywood lies in projects like My Little Pony: The Movie, and we applaud [director] Jayson Thiessen for bringing this magical film to life in a humane way," Lange said.

PETA urged CBS to similarly use technology to represent animals "and stop using animals who are caged, whipped and denied everything that's natural and important to them." The animal rights group claimed that CBS during the first season of Zoo used "big cats, a bear, wolves and two baboons, among many other animals."

The James Patterson adaptation was the most-watched scripted summer series of 2015. PETA criticized the CBS show during its first season for largely using live animals on set, as opposed to CGI.

The animal rights group also said the network employed Steve Martin's Working Wildlife, whose trainers use chimpanzees in violation of the U.S. Animal Welfare Act, for the second season. PETA also claimed CBS dropped plans to use Canadian animal trainer Michael Hackenberger after PETA accused him of whipping a tiger on camera.

Hackenberger has since been charged with five counts of cruelty to animals. CBS did not respond to a request for comment.

Seth Abramovitch contributed to this report. 

June 21, 7:20 p.m. Updated with statement from PETA about My Little Pony and other Hollywood projects that use animation and other digital technology to represent animals.