ByKarly Rayner, writer at
Movie Pilot's celebrity savant
Karly Rayner

Our beloved furry thespians burn bright and fast, and much like a lot of gifted actors of the human persuasion, their lives are often cut tragically short.

Last week we had an "I'm not crying, there's something in my eye" look at the fate of some of our favorite movie animals, and while most of them died natural deaths at a decent age (with the exception of poor Keiko), a lot of performing animals weren't so lucky.

Below are five animal superstars from various movies and TV shows who met a tragic fate, but you will probably feel more sorry for some of them than others...

Travis the Chimp

Claim to fame: Travis starred in commercials for Old Navy, and Coca Cola and had TV appearances on The Maury Povich Show, The Man Show.

His tragic end: Travis featured in TV shots when he was younger and more easy to control, but as he reached sexual maturity and became stronger and more difficult to control, he went into retirement with his adopted parents, Sandra and Jerome Herald.

Despite the fact that most owners retire sexually mature chimps to enclosures due to their erratic behavior and incredible strength, Travis roamed free around his home and was treated like a person. The super intelligent chip could use keys, change the channels on the TV, dress himself and even drive a car.

One day in 2009, Travis finally flipped and attacked Sandra's friend Charla Nash. The attack was so severe that both of her hands were severed and her face was so mauled she lost her sight and her nose and required a face transplant. Travis was shot by police on site.

Tweet the Giraffe

Claim to fame: Ace Ventura, Zookeeper and the original Toys R Us commercials.

His tragic end: After filming on the set of Zookeeper, Tweet collapsed and died in his enclosure at Boston's Franklin Park Zoo. A probe by the U.S. Department of Agriculture determined that Tweet had died after chewing on a toxic tarp that was covering his pen on set. He was 18 years old when he died, which is by no means elderly in terms of giraffe lifespan.

Snow Buddies Puppies

Claim to fame: Snow Buddies

Their tragic ends: Snow Buddies might have been a saccharin sweet movie about golden retriever puppies finding their show shoes and wearing bobble hats, but it wasn't as adorable for the five puppies who died on set.

It is believed that the puppies were taken from their mothers at just 6 weeks old (the youngest date recommended is 8 weeks, but many breeders now think 10 weeks is better for a puppy's development) and not given the relevant shots to protect them from the elements. The American Humane Association wrote:

The American Humane Association is conducting an investigation after five puppies died while on location for the filming of the movie Snow Buddies. As many as six others have fallen ill after exposure to parvovirus. Twenty-eight puppies are being treated after being exposed to the virus. Earlier in the production, 30 puppies were removed from the set when 15 of them showed signs of illness, eventually diagnosed as giardia and coccidia. Three of these puppies were euthanized due to intestinal complications. Parvovirus, also known as parvo, is a highly contagious viral infection in dogs. It causes fever, vomiting, diarrhea and lack of appetite and it can be fatal.

Fred the Baboon

Claim to fame: Baboons with Bill Bailey

His tragic end: Fred rose to fame after starring in a documentary about baboons which explored the different tactics various troops employed to make the most of their environment.

Fred's method of choice was mugging and stealing from unsuspecting tourists, but his claim to fame ended in his death in 2011 when he was euthanized by lethal injection as he was a danger to the public. Cape Town's Baboon Operational Group made a statement that read:

The decision to have Fred euthanized was not taken lightly and not without extensive discussions between all role-players involved.

They blamed tourists misguidedly trying to coax the baboon with food for his increase in violent behavior.

Flipper the Dolphin

Claim to fame: Flipper

Her tragic end: Flipper was played by many bottlenosed dolphins, but one of them, named Kathy met a particularly tragic and poignant end.

Her former trainer Richard O'Barry, who is now an animal-rights activist and one of the marine mammal experts behind The Cove, claims that he watched the performing dolphin commit suicide by sinking to the bottom of the tank and opting to stop breathing because her life on set was so desperately unhappy, he explained:

"The suicide was what turned me around. The [animal entertainment] industry doesn't want people to think dolphins are capable of suicide, but these are self-aware creatures with a brain larger than a human brain. If life becomes so unbearable, they just don't take the next breath. It's suicide."

(Source: Huffington Post and The Atlantic)


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