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    11 Unique Facts About Animal Actors And The People They Work With

    On the eve of the 75th anniversary of American Humane Association’sNo Animals Were Harmed” Program , I co-authored a book, Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors. It was co-written by Allen and Linda Anderson of the Angel Animals Network and featuring a foreword from "America's Veterinarian" Dr. Marty Becker. This book contains many unknown or little known facts about our animal stars some of which I would like to share with you.

    1. A dog saved Hollywood from doom.

    Warner Brothers / Via

    Rin Tin Tin, a German Shepherd adopted in France after World War I by a U.S. soldier, was the canine star of Where the North Begins. The movie was so successful Warner Brothers was saved from bankruptcy.

    2. A diva bear?

    American Humane Association

    Casey the Bear from Back to the Future: Part III, George of the Jungle and the live Jungle Book adaptation had one very particular request for a treat whenever he was on set: KFC Original Recipe fried chicken. No other kind would do – not even the Colonel’s Extra Crispy.

    3. There’s an Angelina Jolie of animal actors.

    (Photo: Jeff Minton. Styling by Caitlyn Carradine; Prop Styling by Laura Behr.)

    Crystal the lovable capuchin monkey has been in 22 major motion pictures like the Night at the Museum series, We Bought A Zoo Failure to Launch and The Hangover: Part 2. She’s now such a big star that movie producers and directors refer to her as the “Angelina Jolie of Animal Stars.”

    4. You can’t train a snake, but you can train humans!

    (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters)

    Kitty, an 18-foot Burmese python, had a commanding presence on the set of Snakes on a Plane. But can you really train a snake? Not really. Kitty’s trainer Jules Sylvester instructed the human cast of what to do to get the right shots, and how to avoid getting bitten.

    5. Jim Carrey may be a superstar, but the penguins call the shots.

    20th Century Fox / Via

    In the movie Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Jim Carrey had no say over the thermostat setting on the soundstage. With the thermostat set at 45 degrees at all times, Carrey and his fellow human castmembers had no choice but to bundle up and rub their hands together to keep warm.

    6. Mr. Jinx really does know how to flush a toilet!


    Though this cat character was played by several different felines, each one learned Mr. Jinx’s signature trick: flushing the toilet. Dawn Barkan, the trainer for all the cats used in the trilogy, taught each of her cats to use the commode.

    7. Centaurs are real!


    After observing the bond between Finder’s Key, Joey in the movie War Horse, and his trainer Bobby Lovgren, director Steven Spielberg remarked that he didn’t know where man ended and horse began – Centaurs are not just mythological creatures, but they were very real on the set of War Horse.

    8. Human actors often form such strong bonds with their animal co-stars they want to bring them home to live with them.


    It happened with Will Smith and Abbey, the German Shepherd, from I Am Legend and Ewan McGregor and Cosmo, the Jack Russell wirehaired terrier, from the Oscar-winning Beginners.

    9. Most animal actors are rescues.


    A startling 85 percent of animal actors working today are rescues. Crystal, the capuchin, was rescued from a breeding facility. Charlie, one of the cats who played Mr. Jinx, was “discovered” in an animal shelter in Ontario, Canada.

    10. 75 years ago, most animal actors were just thought of as props.


    In the early decades of filmmaking, animals were often regarded just as props, and directors and producers would use and abuse them just to get the correct shot. During the filming of the Western Jesse James in 1939, a horse was killed when it was literally thrown over a cliff because that’s what the script called for.

    11. Celebrating 75 years of protecting our animal stars!


    In 2015, American Humane Association will celebrate three-quarters of a century of protecting millions of animal actors on movie and television sets around the world from harm through the "No Animals Were Harmed" Program.