After reports surfaced of a capuchin monkey repeatedly projectile vomiting and biting a makeup artist on the set of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, PETA sent a letter to producer Jerry Bruckheimer urging him not to use monkeys or other wild animals in future movies.

Early in the film’s development, PETA also called on producers to use computer-generated imagery instead of intelligent and highly social capuchins, noting that the animals’ complex physical and psychological needs can’t be met on any film set or in a training compound.

This isn’t the first time that one of Bruckheimer’s Pirates productions has come under fire for animal-welfare concerns. More than 100 animal deaths occurred during the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. It was reported that after scenes with explosions in the ocean were filmed, dead animals washed up on shore for four days. WTH! ☹

But what happens on set is only part of the story. When they’re not performing, animals used for film and TV face lonely lives of abuse and confinement behind closed doors.

Avian Entertainment, the company that reportedly provided the monkeys for the movie, has a terrible track record when it comes to animal welfare. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has cited it numerous times for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including for keeping capuchins in filthy and inadequate enclosures, failing to provide them with adequate environmental enrichment, and not having an adequate program of veterinary care for them.

Primates—like the capuchin monkeys used in the Pirates movie—along with elephants, bears, big cats, and other wild animals used for film productions are typically born in captivity and taken away from their mothers at birth so that they become dependent on humans for survival.

Chubbs, the chimpanzee who appeared in the Tim Burton film Planet of the Apes, currently lives in a decrepit roadside zoo in Texas. PETA found him living in a filthy cage, surviving on dog food and rotten produce. While people can lead lavish lives of luxury from making films, the animals they’re responsible for exploiting are cast off and forgotten.

During training sessions, humans often subject the animals to abusive techniques like beatings, the use of electric prods, psychological torment, and food deprivation in order to suppress their natural instincts and get them to perform on set, where time is money.

What You Can Do

Never purchase a ticket to any movie that uses live animals. They deserve better than to be treated like props for our amusement.