Tweet, the beloved giraffe who rose to fame as a star in the classic “Toys R Us” commercials and who provided laughs alongside Jim Carrey in the movie, “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” died on Friday after filming his latest movie at the Franklin Park Zoo.
The 18-year-old giraffe apparently collapsed while feeding and in the care of his trainer, and had completed shooting his part in the movie, Kevin James' “The Zookeeper.” The animal had no known health problems, and no evident cause of death. A necropsy is being performed.
But the timing of his death raised the concern of the animal rights’ group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which only a month ago sent a letter to the movie’s cast claiming a history of animal abuse by the film's animal training crew, and urging the film’s producers to use alternative ways to cast animals, such as computer generated imagery.
“When it comes to exotic animal characters, the best casting choice is to ‘fake it,” Debbie Leahy, PETA’s director, said at the time. “Even under the best of circumstances, captivity can be hell for exotic animals."
Tammy Sandler, a publicist for the movie, said today that film producers would not comment on PETA’s statements, as they did not address the letter that was sent to the film’s cast, including James, Cher, Rosario Dawson, Sylvester Stallone, and Adam Sandler.
But Sandler said the treatment and training of animals in the movie has been overseen by American Humane, an independent animal welfare organization that oversees movie sets.
American Humane released a statement today saying it could “attest to the animals’ proper treatment and positive training and handling during the production.”
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