PETA Makes a Monkey of Itself at ‘Animal Practice’ Protest

Demonstrators don monkey masks at PETA protest over NBC's new veterinary sitcom "Animal Practice"

PETA is going ape over NBC's new sitcom "Animal Practice" — and not in a good way.

The animal-rights group descended on the network's North Hollywood, Calif., offices Wednesday for a protest that saw protestors donning money masks as they decried the new series.

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According to PETA, the series — which stars former "Weeds" actor Justin Kirk as a veterinarian with a list of famous animal patients — practices cruelty to animals on multiple levels.

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At the demonstration/press conference, primate experts Dr. Mel Richardson and Kari Bagnall took exception to "Animal Practice"'s inclusion of a capuchin monkey named Crystal as a central character on the show.

According to Richardson and Bagnall, when "Friends" — also an NBC show — featured a monkey on the series (as a pet of character Ross Geller) — numerous people began buying pet monkeys, which were subsequently abandoned to animal sanctuaries when the owners realized they couldn't care for them.

PETA further claims that the creatures used on "Animal Practice" spend their lives "deprived of everything that is natural and important to them. Stolen from their mothers shortly after birth—a cruel act for both the baby and the mother that denies the infants the care and nurturing that they need."

NBC has not yet responded to TheWrap's request for comment.

And though Crystal might appear happy in promos for the show, which premieres Sept. 26, don't be fooled — behind that seemingly happy simian grin lies a world of furry-tailed misery, PETA says.

"The 'smile' that Crystal exhibits on the show is actually an expression that indicates fear and stress in capuchin monkeys," PETA claimed on its website. "As capuchin authority Dr. Eduardo Ottoni explains, '[S]ince we do not usually understand their communicative behaviors properly, fear, submission, or avoidance displays can easily be mistaken for 'smiles.'"

A second protest was planned for Thursday, in front of NBC's New York headquarters.

Earlier this year, PETA targeted the HBO series "Luck," calling for law-enforcement to investigate the deaths of horses that expired during the series' production. PETA claimed that the show was racing retired horses that were unfit for the work, and of overworking the horses by racing them twice in the same day.

HBO pulled "Luck" from its schedule in March, after a third horse died during the show's production.