Abuse and Torture in Hollywood
December 9, 2006, 6:56 pm
Filed under: Chimpanzee Welfare

December 7, 2006


According to animal trainer Sid Yost of Amazing Animal Actors, which rents out animals for use in TV and movies, Angel, Apollo, Sable and Cody are four healthy and happy chimpanzees living at his Ranch in San Bernardino. He previously stated that “we pride ourselves on taking special care of our animal actors. All our animal actors are treated with respect, kindness and love.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

Cody, Sable and Apollo came from the notorious Coulston Foundation (TCF) which previously housed the largest colony of captive chimpanzees for the purposes of biomedical research before it was closed down after been found guilty of appalling animal abuse. Angel is the only chimp at the ranch that was acquired from a zoo in California.

Cody, Sable, Angel and Apollo who have appeared in numerous TV shows, commercials and movies including “That ’70s Show” and “The Craig Kilborn Show,” were named in a federal lawsuit alleging cruelty by their California trainer Sid Yost.

In November 2005 in Riverside California the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), along with the Chimpanzee Collaboratory and three other plaintiffs, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court this morning against Hollywood chimpanzee “trainer” Sid Yost for violating the Endangered Species Act and the California anti-cruelty statute by subjecting the chimpanzees in his possession to extreme pain and suffering. Co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit, including primatologist Sarah Baeckler, who worked with Yost for more than a year, have witnessed him repeatedly abuse several chimpanzees by violently beating them with sticks, punching them with his fists, and inflicting excessive pain on them in order to force them to perform for movie and television appearances.

According to Baeckler she witnessed first-hand five young chimpanzee “actors” horrifying regime of abuse. She stated that “If the chimpanzees try to run away from a trainer, they are beaten. If they bite someone, they are beaten. If they don’t pay attention, they are beaten. Sometimes they are beaten without any provocation or for things that are completely out of their control,” She witnessed daily abuse of the chimpanzees. Baeckler described how it is impossible to train chimpanzees to perform in the manner required in the entertainment industry without abusing them.

At last under new settlement terms, Sable, Cody and Angel will leave Yost’s San Bernardino, California, facility on Saturday for sanctuaries in New Mexico and Florida. Maybe these poor animals can finally get a chance to be chimpanzees……

Please encourage filmmakers to use alternatives to the use of live great apes in productions. The use of computer-generated images, blue-screen technology, costumed actors, stock footage, and animatronics are viable alternatives that can and should be used by the film industry.