People are not too happy about Peta's recent video on animal abuse after it was discovered that the footage was computer-generated. The clip features Rufus, a grey house cat, who is being trained by his owner to do tricks. The man talks sternly to the animal and hits him when he does not follow instructions.
After a couple of slaps, Rufus finally stands on his hind legs and jumps from one kitchen stool to the other before scurrying away terrified.
According to The Washington Post, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals attempted to release the video on Youtube anonymously in the hopes of making it go viral and shed light on the circus cruelty.
PR company Press Kitchen, which works for Peta, contacted a Mashable reporter for help to get more traction for the video. The company did not disclose that the incident caught on camera was completely fake.
"Your posting of the provocative piece would simply be to acknowledge that it's in circulation — not to make any claims about its authenticity," the PR company's pitch mentioned.
However, Mashable decided to write about the video, for what it was — a CGI product.
With the cat out of the bag, PETA president and co-founder Ingrid Newkirk released a statement acknowledging that the concept was "ill-conceived". "There was never... any attempt to keep people in the dark that what they had seen was fake. The only issue here is timing." Newkirk told The Washington Post. "Would they realise immediately or would they be told after they reacted?"
The organisation then released an article on 7 June along with a behind-the-scenes video, which reveals that Rufus was entirely computer-generated. "Cat Tricks was created to evoke empathy for the lions and tigers who are bullied and beaten into performing tricks in circuses and movies," the post read.
"Abuse is abuse, whether the animal being smacked is a house cat or a tiger," Peta Senior Vice President Lisa Lange said. "Peta is advocating for the use of computer-generated animals, as they don't feel the terror of a threat, the pain of a whip, or the loneliness of a life in a cage."