Louie was taken from his mother as a cub in South Africa and forced to perform in film and television productions but now lives peacefully at the Lions Tigers & Bears sanctuary in Alpine, California.
PETA has also sent lion-shaped vegan chocolates to Favreau and members of The Lion King’s star-studded cast, including Beyoncé, Seth Rogen, Donald Glover, Keegan-Michael Key, James Earl Jones, and John Oliver.
“Jon Favreau’s The Lion King brings to life compelling characters such as Simba, Nala, Pumbaa, and Timon without exploiting a single live animal,” says PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange. “In Mufasa’s name, PETA urges Disney to help prevent real lions like Louie from suffering by pledging to follow this movie’s direction and never allow big cats on a Disney set.”
Louie was relinquished to the sanctuary in 2017 by a former animal trainer, but most animals aren’t so lucky. When no longer useful to trainers, many are dumped at roadside zoos, where they can languish for years. In the entertainment industry, wild animals are typically trained through fear and violence, as revealed in PETA’s exposé of a Hollywood animal trainer. When they’re not being forced to perform, wild animals are often kept in small cages and deprived of exercise, enrichment, and companionship.