PETA is criticizing Leonardo DiCaprio for a scene he shot with a chimpanzee in the upcoming Martin Scorsese film "The Wolf of Wall Street." In the clip, DiCaprio reportedly carries the ape in his arms around coworkers in a crowded office scene in lower Manhattan.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to DiCaprio in response to the scene asking that he abstain from performing alongside apes in future films due to the way in which they have been treated in the past by Hollywood studios.
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The request was accompanied by a video from PETA
, narrated by Anjelica Huston, in which the animal rights organization documented instances of abuse of chimpanzees and other apes in Hollywood.
"Undercover investigations have documented that physical abuse of ape 'actors' during preproduction training is standard practice," PETA contends, citing U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection reports that found instances in which "the trainers of great apes [were] cited for the failure to provide veterinary care, and for confining animals to filthy, undersized cages."
"Someone as committed to environmental concerns as Leonardo DiCaprio should know better than to support the well-documented cruelty involved in using great apes for entertainment," PETA primatologist Julia Gallucci says in an online petition
. "PETA hopes the next time Leo receives a script with an ape ‘actor’ in it, he’ll remember that these sensitive animals are stolen from their mothers at birth and subjected to physical abuse — and he’ll demand a rewrite."
DiCaprio has been a longtime advocate for animal and environmental causes around the world, having launched a foundation in 1998 "dedicated to protecting Earth’s last wild places and fostering a harmonious relationship between humanity and the natural world," according to its website
Additionally, DiCaprio presently serves on the board of the World Wildlife Fund, The Natural Resources Defense Council, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and Global Green USA.
According to PETA, the ape used in "The Wolf of Wall Street" was provided by the Rosaire family, a 10th-generation circus family that it claims is "notorious for operating a traveling circus with an exploitative show featuring chimpanzees riding horses and doing other unnatural tricks."
DiCaprio has yet to respond to the PETA criticism.
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