by Lisa Kalner Williams
Categories: Animals
Tags: , , .

“Rango,” an animated spaghetti western featuring the voices of Johnny Depp and Isla Fisher, displaced Natalie Portman‘s “Black Swan” from the box office’s top slot this weekend. This tale of a chameleon who finds himself in the backwater of “Dirt” is bound to touch moviegoers’ soft spot for the reptile — but that’s precisely what PETA fears, especially in light of the film’s promotion with PetSmart.

According to PETA, PetSmart is offering a $10 discount on reptiles to those showing their “Rango” ticket stubs. The cash savings, in addition to the Rango-cuteness-overload, might increase the demand for chameleons — which may in turn, increase: the number of reptile eggs harmed in illegal transport; instances of death (or misery) for reptiles whose extraordinary captivity needs are not met; and the spread of disease in humans, including salmonellosis.

To prevent these afflictions to both humans and animals, PETA has posted an online action alert asking Paramount Pictures, the producer of “Rango,” to end the PetSmart promotion.

PetSmart must have anticipated some backlash from animal rights organizations, however. To coincide with Rango’s release date (March 4), PetSmart put out a press release about the responsibilities of owning exotics. The company will also offer a live Facebook chat on March 8 for families who seek additional information on pet reptiles and their care.

What are your thoughts here? Will PetSmart’s outreach be enough to explain the hazards of owning exotic pets?

About Lisa Kalner Williams

Lisa Kalner Williams is a lover of rock 'n' roll and founder of Sierra Tierra Marketing, a social analytics, strategy, and education company. She lives with her vegan family in the Greater Boston area.

View all posts by Lisa Kalner Williams →
  • Hart Noecker

    Illegal trade of wildlife is the third largest black market in the world. No reason a corporation like PetSmart wouldn’t want in on that kind of cash.

  • Rebecca

    I support animal rights,but also the rights of individuals to come to their own decisions. PETA’s aggressive approach does nothing but alienate people on the fence about certain animal rights issues. I believe they are bullies. They create drama where there is none,and focus on small(yet high profile) issues like this one to garner attention for their own organization. I will continue to support ASPCA,and other organizations that work to improve the lives of animals,but PETA will never see one red cent from me!

    • Sean

      Rebecca- So, what you’re saying is that people whose egos are easily bruised by someone (like PETA) pointing out factual information are the one’s who should be catered to in this world? We should cater and pander to ignorance and ego? I don’t think so. It’s apologists like you who enable the people you refer to who are on the fence. You legitimize their bogus feelings of irritation with PETA. What is heavy handed about this campaign? Nothing, zero, zilch. Pointing out facts should not offend people to the point where they ignore reality.

      • Nick.C

        I think what Rebecca is trying to say, and I agree, is that PETA is using FUD (Fear, uncertainty and doubt) the push their ideology on the masses.

        This movie presents the perfect opportunity to educate and to pass on vital information on to the masses on the care of pets. Instead PETA chooses (as usual) to make a massive hue and cry that only serves to alienate people from the message of responsible pet care.

        They are like the Abstinence camp, in the end doing more harm than good to their cause because of ideology.

    • Loretta

      Rebecca you forget that the general public are relatively stupid and ignorant of animal welfare. This small but high profile issue deserves all the attention it can get. From past movie crazes PETA can already foresee that many of these poor animals will be smuggled, illegally traded, sold without any real regard for the animals welfare and will undoubtedly die at the hands of irresponsible parents and children who have only bought them because they were ‘so cute in the movie’. Need we mention the demise of millions of poor clown fish that were bought after Finding Nemo. Or how about the endangered owls in India selling on the black market in India after Harry Potter. We can only imagine the horrible outcome for most of those precious birds. These reptiles may be a small issue to you but not to the thousands of small creatures that have died in the aftermath of these movies. Petsmart’s promotion is thoughtless and opportunistic and totally disregards the future of the reptiles they’ll sell. Do you really think they care if the owners look after them once they walk out the store? Wake up!!!

  • m4rk0

    I can’t stand PeTA but they’re right on this one.

  • Rebecca

    @Nick said it better than I,and using the analogy of the abstinence campaign really helps to explain my thought process.
    The angered response also proves my point. Angry personal attacks on individuals who disagree with PETA’s tactics.
    I never said I supported PetSmart.At ALL. And I agree it’s wrong to form a union with that corp.I also worry about all the reptiles that will be purchased after seeing this movie,and disregarded once their appeal wares of. But,I refuse to be bullied. It’s amazing that people get so angry at certain religious groups for pushing their ideals on individuals,but PETA is no better. They could try to actually listen to the general public,and work to educate in a way that isn’t so abrasive.
    @Sean,the majority of the world’s population falls into that ‘easily bruised’ category so I DO think PETA should care what they think.
    Extremist groups do not make the biggest changes. Spend some time working in the world of D.C politics,and maybe that will become clearer.

  • mayra lopez

    I love the animals…but come on PETA..what Rango has to do with it? is only a movie,and it no hurts anybody,the people always gonna buy exotic animals,but then the persons have to care about them.You have to slams the real cruelty ,like shows that presents models with fur coat(HELLO)!

  • Amanda

    PETA is a bunch of bullies, and PetSmart’s promotion is just good marketing. Until PETA went after them, I’m sure Petco wishes they had the same idea.

    Rango is going to inspire the hike of sales regardless. PetSmart is simply capitalizing on it.

  • herwin

    that’s a disgusting campaign to give a DISCOUNT with a movie ticket for buying exotic pets.
    That’s cashing in on people’s short lived impulses of how cute exotic animals are, because they just watched a movie ! It’s the animals who payt a heavy toll for these frivolities.
    Shame on you Paramount Pictures, and thanks PETA for standing up for the animals.
    PETSMART undercover video how the animals are treated :

  • guy

    There may be a chance after this film to bring attention to the flora and fauna of the mojave desert. I would encourage Johnny Depp to host a natural documentary on the american and mexican deserts while Rango is fresh in our minds. I do not agree with the petsmart promotion, but would suggest Peta to contact Mr. Depp who is clearly enthralled with the mythos of the west.