An animal rights group is calling for a boycott of the new Martin Scorsese film “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, over the treatment of a chimpanzee which appears in the movie.
The group Friends of Animals (FOA) says the chimp named Chance may have suffered permanent psychological damage from the experience of acting in a film.
Chance played the pet of the Wall Street mogul Jordan Belfort, based on the real-life stockbroker. Chance often rollerskates through the office wearing button-down shirts and slacks.
Edita Birnkrant, the New York director of FOA, plans to “confront” Scorsese and DiCaprio at the red carpet premier of the movie in New York City on Tuesday.
“When The Wolf of Wall Street premieres in NYC on 17 December, there is sure to [be] buzz about whether or not Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays real life law-breaking stockbroker Jordan Belfort, will get an Oscar nod,” FOA wrote in a statement. “But what likely won’t be talked about is one of DiCaprio’s co-stars, a chimpanzee named Chance who portrays his character’s pet, and the long-term damage that is done to primates exploited in entertainment.”
Birnkrant says Chance, who suffered cruel treatment from a circus trainer early in his life, could suffer from neurotic behaviors due to his appearance in the movie. If that is the case, she argues he will not be able to socially interact or be accepted by other chimps.
Danny Porush, who is depicted by Jonah Hill in the movie, told Mother Jones he never saw a chimp in their office.
“There was never a chimpanzee in the office,” Porush said. “There were no animals in the office ... I would also never abuse an animal in any way.”
Porush said they also never participated in a game of “dwarf-tossing,” as depicted in the movie, but dwarves were frequent party guests.
Porush was sentenced to 39 months in jail for securities fraud and money laundering in 2004. Belfort was indicted for securities fraud and money laundering in 1998. He served 22 months in federal prison and was ordered to pay back $110.4 million that he swindled from clients.