Thrill-seeking gorilla or animal cruelty?
© 2014 The World Post Times
NORFOLK, VA. -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA) has condemned the Phoenix Suns and the National Basketball Association for their exploitation of a real gorilla for entertainment during the Suns home basketball games, and have demanded a boycott of the franchise. A PeTA spokesperson stated the Suns and the NBA have forced the gorilla to perform dangerous and humiliating stunts, like dunking basketballs, riding vehicles, and even being forced to deliver pizza to fans.
The Suns basketball organization has used a gorilla as its mascot since 1980. The original Suns Gorilla mascot was a man dressed in a gorilla suit. In the late 1980’s, as the NBA’s popularity skyrocketed, the tricks expected from the NBA mascots became more physically demanding. In 1990, the Suns management concluded the stunts performed by the Suns Gorilla would be better performed by a real gorilla.
Jerry Colangelo, former owner and general manager of the Suns, says he is a strong supporter of PeTA “but they are barking up the wrong tree in this instance.” Colangelo adamantly defended the Suns actions. “The gorilla was a rescue out of Nairobi a day before he was scheduled to be euthanized there. We nursed him back to health and he has since been treated like family. I understand rescuing an animal does not give us the right to abuse that animal, but the gorilla truly loves what he does here. People don’t realize he choreographs all of his own stunts.”
Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek noted that the Suns players treat the gorilla with the utmost respect. This past summer the gorilla stayed at Suns guard Goran Dragic’s house. Dragic laughed “He kind of trashed the kitchen and went a little crazy with my Netflix plan, but he’s always welcome to stay at my house.”
Hornacek added that many of the Suns greats like Tom Chambers, Kevin Johnson, and Dan Majerle still drop by with fresh fruit every week, and Charles Barkley takes the gorilla to Vegas every few months or so, “which nobody is supposed to talk about, but we know the gorilla has a lot of fun.”
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