In January 2023, Universal Studios Hollywood will permanently close its “Animal Actors” show, which has featured live animals such as dogs and birds provided by infamous supplier Birds & Animals Unlimited (BAU) for many years. BAU, operated by Hollywood animal trainer Gary Gero, provides animals for use in films, television, and advertisements. It has rented out animals to famous film and TV productions, such as The Hangover, Game of Thrones, and Pirates of the Caribbean. BAU has a training facility near Acton, California, and its “retirement” facility is in Lake Wales, Florida.
The final show where animals would be coerced to perform at Universal Studies will be on 8th January 2023. The animal rights organisation PETA investigated BAU for ten months and revealed that animals were being denied adequate veterinary care for illnesses and injuries, forced to live inside filthy enclosures, and denied food so that they would be hungry while being trained to do tricks.
Debbie Metzler, Director of Captive Animal Welfare of the PETA Foundation, said, “the curtain can’t close soon enough on this cruel relic, which has spent decades forcing animals from a wretched supplier to perform tricks in front of frightening, noisy crowds. PETA is celebrating Universal Studios’ kind decision and calling on the company to begin a new animal-free era at both of its parks.”
Based on PETA’s evidence, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspected BAU and cited it for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Specifically, the USDA cited BAU for failing to provide adequate veterinary care for two pigs with skin conditions. The agency also cited BAU for failing to provide dogs who were left outdoors with bedding when overnight temperatures dropped below 50 degrees.