Before he started talking to empty chairs, Clint Eastwood used to have an orangutan as a sidekick, in the movie “Every Which Way But Loose.”
But the behavior that inspired – hanging around with wild animals – is precisely the thing his daughter, Alison Eastwood, is trying to prevent. Working with animal expert Donald Schultz, Eastwood, an ex-actress and animal advocate the two try to talk people with often dangerous wild animals as pets to give them up to refuges on the new Nat Geo Wild series “Animal Intervention.”
A world where a pet monkey tears the face off a woman, or a private zoo is released in an Ohio town and in a fit of insanity is the one where the two confront wild animal owners who are not open to give up their exotic (though often illegal) hobby.
More than one says “over my dead body” and one man pulls out a gun to show he means business.
“He was one person that brought up the fact that, ‘Your dad inspired me to get these animals.’ And I was like, oh, God,’ Eastwood told reporters at the TV critics press tour in August.
“He said, ‘Oh, I watched all those monkey movies!’ And I was like, oh, no, not what I want to hear.”
Eastwood, who was featured in such films as “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” says Hollywood is in part to blame. “I think the entertainment business does make it look like, oh, how much fun would it be.”
“Almost every big movie has come out and there’s been a spike in animal ownerships,” Schultz says. “ ‘101 Dalmatians,’ ‘Finding Nemo,’ — all these movies have seen a big spike in animal ownership of that character. And the answer is not stopping making movies with that kind of stuff, it’s educating people on owning these animals.
“Our hope with this is someone sees a movie with a lion or a tiger or a bear, and then they see the show and they’re like, oh, okay, that’s the other side of it, other than the Disney movie, rather than just thinking everything’s in fantasyland, like ‘The Lion King.’”
“It goes back to responsibility,” Eastwood says. “I mean, 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago there was really no laws when it came to animals and entertainment. I mean, horses were getting killed in westerns, and, you know. I mean, there were all kinds of horrible things happening. Monkeys in movies were being abused. I think the law have gotten a lot better, but I think it’s a fine line. I mean, you have to be responsible, and you have to ultimately look out for what’s best for the animal.”
“Animal Intervention” runs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Nat Geo Wild.