The animal rights group, known formally as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is especially incensed that the production worked with a company that it claims is “notorious” for animal cruelty.
The Rosaire family, which runs The Rosaire Family Circus, has been in PETA’s sights for some time, because it “forces chimpanzees to perform cruel and unnatural acts,” according to the group.
The family has a 30-acre spread off I-75 in Sarasota, Fla, where they keep a menagerie of lions, tigers, cougars, chimpanzees, Kodiak bears, lemurs and a number of other exotic animals, according to the family’s Web site.
The movie focuses on the excesses of Wall Street swindler Jordan Belfort, who was eventually busted for fraud and sent to prison. Among his many indulgences was a pet chimpanzee named “Chance.”
In the film, the 39-year-old actor drags the chimpanzee around an office party.
PETA primatologist Julia Gallucci zeroed in on the actor because of his professed belief in environmental issues.
“DiCaprio should know better than to support the well-documented cruelty involved in using great apes for entertainment,” she wrote in an online petition.
Apes are stolen from their mothers at birth and subjected to physical abuse, she noted. DiCaprio should have asked to have the chimp written out of the script, she added.
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