The Witches star, who was named People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) Person of the Year in December (12), has penned a letter to chiefs at Steak ‘n Shake asking them to axe their controversial ad, which features a chimp dressed in a tuxedo.
Huston also sent the company executives a PETA video expose detailing how famous apes can be cruelly treated.
In the note, she writes, “I am distraught over the fact that Steak ‘n Shake is running a television commercial featuring a chimpanzee, even though company executives have learned about the issue of using primates in advertising from PETA.
“Problems begin soon after birth for chimpanzees used in show business. Chimpanzee mothers are fiercely protective of their young, so in order to take chimpanzee babies away from them prematurely, they must be tricked, sedated, or forcibly restrained while their babies are torn from their arms.
“This wrenching experience sends mothers into a deep depression and instills fear in the infants. In nature, chimpanzees stay at their mothers’ side until age seven and maintain lifelong social bonds with their families.
“Young chimpanzees are playful and curious by nature, but such attributes don’t translate well to a commercial set, where we know that a botched take means wasted time and money. Trainers, therefore, want the animals to know who’s boss and that ‘misbehavior’ will result in pain and punishment. Starting as early as age two, chimpanzees are trained with beatings.
“Innovative companies use animatronics or computer-generated imagery. You could easily adopt one of these methods or find another way to advertise your restaurants.”