Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker’s Award Program to Ban Use of Primates in Film Submissions

Posted on June 29, 2006

San Francisco, Calif. – The Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker’s
Award (CCRFA) program won’t be allowing for any more monkey business in
its celebrated competition for student filmmakers, according to a
statement issued yesterday by the Coca-Cola Company. After being
notified by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) that Cody and Sable,
the chimpanzee “stars” of the winning CCRFA film entry for 2006, are
currently the subjects of a lawsuit ALDF has filed against their
“trainer,” Sid Yost, the world’s largest beverage company is amending
their film submission guidelines to help prevent the further
exploitation of our closest relatives on the silver screen. Their
statement to ALDF notes that “in light of the concerns you raised we
are prepared to eliminate the use of primates in any future productions
for this program….” They also state that they are committed to
limiting the use of any animals in future production submissions. The
Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker’s Award has been presented to an
outstanding film student every year since 1997, and the winner is
selected by a blue-ribbon panel of entertainment industry experts.

Why is life no stroll on the red carpet for chimpanzees like Cody and
Sable? Sid “Ranger Rick” Yost has been convicted of crimes involving
the possession and exhibition of animals on multiple occasions. In
November 2005, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, along with four other
plaintiffs, filed a complaint
in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles against Yost for violating the
Endangered Species Act and the California anti-cruelty statute by
subjecting the chimpanzees in his possession, including the pair who
appeared in the CCRFA’s 2006 winner “The Reel Monkey,” to regular
beatings and abuse. Co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit, including
primatologist Sarah Baeckler, who investigated Yost for more than a
year, have witnessed him repeatedly and violently beat chimpanzees with
sticks, punch them with his fists, and inflict excessive pain on them
in order to force them to perform for film, television, and public
appearances. The case is scheduled to be heard later this year.

“There is nothing glamorous about the behind-the-scenes
cruelty that abusive men employ to force chimpanzees–who, let us keep
in mind, are wild animals, not aspiring actors–to perform on command,”
says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We’re delighted that the
Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker’s Award Program is using its unique
position to encourage young filmmakers to come up with creative,
innovative alternatives to using often-exploited live animals in their
films.”

Statement of Settlement


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