People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA] has written to Gladiator 2 director Ridley Scott to urge him “to immediately cancel plans to use real animals for the film” which is currently being shot in Malta.
PETA’s Associate Director for Animals in Film and Television Lauren Thomasson aimed her letter against the use of horses in full costume in the summer heat, as well as the use of macaques on the set.
“Another whistleblower report just came in that a horse’s leg gave out on set, presumably due to the heat, with concerns that the horses (who are in costume) are being exposed to hot temperatures and sometimes forced to stand in direct sunlight during and between takes,” PETA informed the acclaimed director.
Despite the SAG-AFTRA strike, which has temporarily paused shooting, PETA says it is informed that production plans to continue Tuesday through Saturday next week.
“Scorching summer heat and oppressive costumes are a dangerous mix for horses, who are naturally skittish animals, prone to flight and injury, and vulnerable to the stresses of a film set.
“The film and TV industries have a past riddled with on-set horse injuries and even deaths.
“We sincerely hope Gladiator 2 avoids adding another death to that list.”
PETA also raised concerns over the use of macaques on set, saying “We wanted to make sure you were aware that macaques can be unpredictable and that it’s within a monkey’s nature to solve problems with aggression, so they can and will attack and bite humans.
“Their teeth are sharp, their jaws are strong, and their bites are often severe. Macaques commonly carry the herpes B virus, which can be deadly to humans, so keeping them in the vicinity of humans results in public health risks as well.”
PETA also says these monkeys are often taken from their mothers at a young age for these types of film settings and has termed the practice as unethical.
Entertainment website TMZ reports PETA has sent the letter off to Scott as well as to all the actors attached to Gladiator 2, including Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Paul Mescal and others.
PETA is asking Scott to leave live animals out of the production and to replace them with CGI.
New Legal Notice for dangerous animals on film sets seemingly crafted for Gladiator 2
The government published a Legal notice at the beginning of June, coinciding with the film’s shooting in Malta between June and September, that regulates the use of dangerous animals during filming.
The new legal notice stipulates that “all persons who shall be in contact with the dangerous animals during the filming shall be made aware of the dangers that these animals may pose to them”.
This, according to the legal amendment, “refers to the physical danger which may be posed by these animals, as well as the possibility of transmission of certain infectious diseases”.
The new provisions also require a weapon or a tool “that may stop that animal if it were to turn ferocious, become uncontrollable or a threat to any human in the vicinity” to always be handy on the film set.
The new law also requires a handler capable of managing the weapon or tool and that killing of the animal in question may be warranted in such circumstances.
It allows for a number of animals to be used for cinematic performances as props or extras in Malta as long as they were brought into the country legally, that all dangerous animals performing during filming are to be identified by a permanent means of identification, that such animals can enter the country for only a temporary period as necessary for the shooting of the film but the period cannot exceed three months.
Each dangerous animal entering the country must be accompanied by a handler who will be the contact point and the person responsible for any such animal.
If a dangerous animal imported for filming gives birth while in Malta, the offspring will not be allowed to remain in Malta and will be ‘deported’ to its country of origin.
Such animals are to be kept in suitable and approved quarters, and may only be transferred from those quarters to a more confined mobile enclosure for transport to the set.
The dangerous animals in question are listed in Schedule B of the Owning and Keeping of Dangerous Animals Regulations.
The extensive list includes Tasmanian devils, kangaroos, a multitude of primates, wolves, jackals, big cats such as lions, jaguars tigers and pumas, hippos, walruses, alligators, crocodiles, venomous snakes and even rhinos.