UPDATE at 1:53 p.m., Tuesday, April 14: The lion was, as Food Lion promised us, a no-show. Details below.
If you live in Van Nuys, look out.
The folks at animal rights group PETA say a lion was expected to be headed to a residence in Van Nuys today to appear in a commercial shoot for grocery chain — you guessed it — Food Lion. And it wasn't P-22, the famed big cat that got stuck under a house in Los Feliz yesterday.
PETA says we're talking about a full-on lion. But Food Lion says the feline model is not scheduled to appear. More on that below.
Now, if Food Lion belonged to us, of course we'd want a lion representing it. Fully.
But PETA has a point. This week it reiterated part of its motto — "Animals are not ours to use for entertainment" — to announce that it will be protesting the filming should it take place.
In a statement, PETA says some of its supporters will gather outside the set and "call on Food Lion to use stock footage, computer-generated imagery, animatronics or other creative means that will spare lions the cruelty of being deprived of their natural environment and violently forced to obey their handlers."
The organization says that big cats used in Hollywood are typically taken from their mothers soon after birth, confined to cages and subject to training that includes electric shock and food deprivation.
PETA Foundation deputy general counsel Delcianna Winders says:
There's nothing creative or amusing about dragging a captive lion onto a commercial set. PETA is calling on Food Lion to act like a modern, kind company and leave wild animals out of its ads.
PETA says the action starts at noon in Van Nuys. Food Lion spokeswoman Christy Phillips-Brown told us the lion was not supposed to show:
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We require our filming partners to adopt numerous precautionary measures to ensure the safety and well-being of the lion in our commercial. This includes using animal-actor trainers with an exemplary record of care and third-party oversight of the filming process every time the animal is on set. For your information, Food Lion does not have any plans to have a lion on the set of its commercial shoot tomorrow in the greater Los Angeles area.
UPDATE at 1:53 p.m., Tuesday, April 14: The lion was a no-show. PETA sent us this statement:
No lions were dragged to Food Lion's commercial shoot in Van Nuys today, and PETA is calling on the company to make a pledge for the future: No wild animals in ads, ever. Whether they're filmed in front of a green screen or on a cramped commercial set, lions in the entertainment industry are denied everything that's natural and important to them and are even beaten into obedience. Food Lion can and should create eye-catching ads without resorting to the use of deprived, captive wild animals.