‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Monkey Business Sparks Online Petition

Disney should just say capuchin-no to live simian actors, activist says

Last Updated: February 22, 2015 @ 3:48 PM

Animal rights activists have a message for Disney when it comes to the upcoming “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”: Don’t monkey around.

An online petition on Change.org is asking Disney, along with Jerry Bruckheimer Films and director Espen Sandberg, not to employ monkeys in the film, which began production in Australia this week.

At the time of publication, the petition — launched by Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary founder Kari Bagnall — had enlisted 949 supporters, which is 51 short of its goal.

“I personally help care for monkeys who lived much of their lives as props for the entertainment industry,” the petition reads. “If Disney wants to be seen as a responsible and animal-friendly company, it should not use real monkeys in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean.'”

The Australian Times reported earlier this week that two production companies have asked for permits to bring capuchin monkeys from California to Australia to play Jack, the monkey pet of Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush).

Capuchin monkeys, Bagnall contends in the petition, “are highly intelligent, sensitive, and social wild animals who do not belong on the set of a movie. Monkeys are often stolen from their mothers when they are infants. It is not hard to imagine the horror both baby and mother must feel during this forced separation.”

Instead of live monkeys, Bagnall says that Disney should consider using computer-generated monkeys.

“The successful use of computer-generated imagery alternatives will not only garner you more attention (as it did for the ‘Planet of the Apes’ films), but will help you avoid the notoriety and protests associated with relying on monkey actors,” the petition suggests.

According to the petition, numerous organizations, including Humane Society International Australia, Wild Futures, Born Free Foundation and Captive Animals Protection Society, are asking Australia’s federal environment minister to reject the permits to import the monkeys.

A spokesperson for Disney has not yet responded to TheWrap‘s request for comment.

According to Disney, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” will follow a down-on-his-luck Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) as he finds the winds of ill-fortune blowing even more strongly when deadly ghost pirates led by his old nemesis, the terrifying Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), escape from the Devil’s Triangle, determined to kill every pirate at sea … including him.

In addition to Depp, Rush and Bardem, the cast will include “Rosewater” actress Golshifteh Farahani. Whether they’re joined by monkey castmates will depend, it would seem, on how effective the petition is.