By Sara Fay
A group of animal rights activists protested the premiere of the new movie "Zookeeper" Wednesday in response to animal abuse allegations and the death of a giraffe that appeared in the film.

The giraffe, named Tweet, collapsed and died the day after wrapping his scenes in 2009, said Jone Bouman, communications director for the American Humane Association's Film and Television Unit.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals reportedly wrote to the film's producers about possible animal mistreatment, including the use of beating and electric shocks, by a company supplying animals to the set. Additionally, a whistleblower told PETA in 2009 that a small and unsafe enclosure may have contributed to Tweet's death.

A necropsy on the giraffe did not substantiate any claims that the giraffe died from eating pieces of tarp in its enclosure and that the enclosure was too small, Bouman said.

Films that feature animals can earn a "no animals were harmed" disclaimer from the AHA that appears in the film's end credits. An animal safety representative from AHA was on the "Zookeeper" set during filming, a requirement for earning the credit. The giraffe was checked by a veterarian the day before he died, Bouman said.

Across the street from the Regency Village Theatre, about 20 PETA supporters held signs with slogans. Jennifer Miguel of Santa Monica wore a PETA T-shirt and carried a handbag with a "meat is murder" sticker.

"I've been a PETA supporter for 10 years," she said. "I'm here because I'm an animal rights supporter."

PETA advocates for other alternatives to live animals in films, such as computer-generated imagery. Other supporters at the "Zookeeper" premiere held signs that featured a still from a video in which an elephant appears to receive an electric shock from a handler.

"Wild animals exploited by filmmakers are scared, confused and out of their element, but time is money, so if they don't perform on cue, they can expect to be beaten or given an electric shock," PETA Director Delcianna Winders said in a press release.

"The fact is that PETA was not on set," Bouman said. "That is conjecture on their part."

Because the results of the necropsy were not immediately available to determine whether an animal was harmed on set, the film does not bear the AHA "no animals were harmed" end credit.

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