Wolf of Wall Street
The Wolf of Wall Street arrives in cinemas soon

Leonardo Dicaprio has been on the end of some rather scathing criticism from PETA and other animal rights organisations owing to a scene involving a chimpanzee in his upcoming movie The Wolf of Wall Street. The Martin Scorsese-directed black comedy is the latest in a long line of Hollywood films that unfairly exploit animals from an early age so that they may be used in films, PETA have argued, and they expected better from Leo.

In the film, DiCaprio drags a chimpanzee named Chance through a bustling office party in a scene that has greatly upset the animal rights community, not over what happens in the film, but for how the animal is treated behind the scenes. The true-to-life biopic of Wall Street broker Jordan Belfort has come under fire from animal rights groups for its use of the chimp, claiming "that chimpanzees are abused and taken from their mothers at an early age before being forced into Hollywood."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have gone as far as to set up an online petition pleading with DiCaprio that he never appears on screen with a great ape again. The charity organisation goes on to claim that the chimpanzee used in the film is owned by the Rosaire family, who are apparently "notorious for operating a traveling circus that forces chimpanzees to perform cruel and unnatural acts" and hire their animals out for use in Hollywood. The organisation go on to claim that the Rosaire family has been cited for "multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act" and has pleaded with Leo not to work with them or any other primates on screen again.

Leonardo DiCaprio
Leo as he appears in the upcoming biopic

“Someone as committed to environmental concerns as Leonardo DiCaprio should know better than to support the well-documented cruelty involved in using great apes for entertainment,” PETA primatologist Julia Gallucci said in the petition. “PETA hopes the next time Leo receives a script with an ape ‘actor’ in it, he’ll remember that these sensitive animals are stolen from their mothers at birth and subjected to physical abuse — and he’ll demand a rewrite.”

The Wolf of Wall Street is due to arrive in cinemas in the US on 25 December and on 17 January in the UK. The film is based on the true story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfor, played by DiCaprio, and follows his rapid rise to the top of Wall Street and his fall in to prison after run ins with the corporate banking world, the federal government and the mob.

Watch the trailer for Wolf of Wall Street