Paramount’s new family comedy adventure Clifford the Big Red Dog has been making a splash in theaters and on Paramount+, but its release hasn’t brought joy to everyone. PETA, aka the animal rights organization called People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has called for audiences to skip this one for its alleged animal cruelty. Their concern is not with the treatment of the titular CGI canine, but rather with the real capuchin monkey and other live animals featured in the movie.
“While other movies opt for CGI that allows monkeys to stay with their families, instead of being dragged onto film sets and forced to perform, Clifford the Big Red Dog doubles down on old-school cruelty,” reads a statement from PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange in response to the release of the movie. “Clifford is a big red flag, and kind audiences should skip the flick in favor of productions that don’t exploit animals.”
PETA also claims that Clifford the Big Red Dog credits an animal trainer and a wrangler who appear to be affiliated with Birds & Animals Unlimited (BAU), a Hollywood supplier at whose facility “filth, neglect, and deprivation are the name of the game.” PETA’s 10-month-long investigation into BAU alleged animal abuse, declaring that “animals were denied adequate veterinary care for illnesses and injuries, forced to live inside filthy enclosures, and denied food so that they would be hungry while being trained to do tricks.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture cited BAU for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act after PETA announced their findings.
This is the second movie in a matter of months to draw some backlash from PETA. After the release of the trailer for the upcoming sequel Jackass Forever, the org – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way” – slammed the production for including live animals with some of the movie’s stunts. The organization has even called for a criminal probe into the filmmakers of Jackass Forever and asked for its upcoming release to be blocked.
“Jackass stunts are violent and vulgar, but if the talent is willing and the wounds are self-inflicted, that’s one thing-however, it’s quite another when animals are exploited, harassed, and harmed: That’s cruelty,” the company stated. “The Jackass Forever trailer shows Knoxville’s crew provoking a snake and a bull to the point of attack, treating a tarantula like a game piece, and coercing a chained bear to eat honey off a bound participant. Four months before its release, Jackass Forever has already risked normalizing animal exploitation and legitimizing the cruel exhibitors who pimp out animals for productions. PETA is urging producers to remove stunts involving animals from the film.”
Clifford the Big Red Dog is directed by Walt Becker and based on the popular children’s book series by Norman Bridwell. It stars Jack Whitehall, Darby Camp, Tony Hale, Sienna Guillory, David Alan Grier, Russell Wong, Kenan Thompson, and John Cleese. It was released both in movie theaters and on the streaming service Paramount+ on Nov. 10, following pandemic-related delays.