A viral video of Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. playing catch with a chimpanzee and wrestling with a big cat was not well received by PETA.
The short clip, featured on Beckham’s Instagram, caught the eye of the animal rights organization, which took aim at Myrtle Beach Safari, the zoo apparently responsible for the animals.
“These sensitive and much-abused animals belong with their families in nature, not pimped out as props by shameless roadside zoos,” PETA Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet said in a statement. “We’re sure that Odell Beckham Jr. had no idea that the sleazy safari park where this young chimpanzee is kept has a lengthy record of violating federal law and uses great apes and big-cat cubs in cheap publicity stunts like this.”
The release called the photo op “misguided,” while pointing to Beckham’s injury history as a reason to avoid getting up close to the animals.
“These encounters are incredibly dangerous, and PETA urges everyone — including Beckham, who certainly doesn’t want another injury — to steer clear of cruel facilities that exploit animals,” the group said.
The zoo’s director, however, refuted the PETA’s characterization of the facility, which helps raise awareness surrounding wild animals.
“This is not a backyard zoo,” Doc Antle told WFAN. “This is a really magnificent wonderful place.”