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Going to Antarctica and posing in subzero temperatures in front of penguins is one thing. But Kate Upton's latest modeling gig is a step too far for animal rights activists.
The folks at PETA are blasting Harper's Bazaar for its latest spread entitled "The Animal Nursery," which features the blond bombshell posing with various exotic critters, including a baby tiger, leopard, gibbon and lion. According to the group, employing such endangered species as accessories can jeopardize their welfare, particularly the monkey.
"We're sure that Kate, like most people, doesn't know that wild animals used for photo shoots have been taken away from their mothers at birth and deprived of everything that is natural and important to them. The gibbon featured in the photographs is an infant and should be with his mother at all times," PETA said in a statement. "Besides the emotional trauma that he has undoubtedly suffered as a result of the separation, his delicate immune system is still developing, and he is susceptible to illnesses that humans carry."
The organization concluded by saying, "All the animals in the photographs are endangered and should be protected, rather than being treated like props."
The pictorial is slated to run in Harper's Bazaar international editions and was put together by former Vogue Paris editor-in-chief Carine Roitfeld.
A rep for the magazine was not available for comment.
But Miami's Zoological Wildlife Foundation (ZWF), which provided the tiger cub and gibbon, denied the animals were harmed.
"Our animal our not taught to do tricks. They simply are raised with dignity, much love and respect. PETA's comment about them being 'ripped off their mothers from the wild' is at best ludicrous," a spokesperson told E! News.
ZWF explained further that the animals wouldn't have survived without the Foundation's help.
"These are captive born from at least five generations of captive born ancestors. As these animals are close to being extinct in the wild," said the rep. "Unfortunately most captive parents do not raise their offspring. Therefore we must…rear them. Often from day one."
"These animals in no way, shape or form were stressed," ZWF said, noting that that during the shoot, two full-time veterinarians cared for the animals and they were always accompanied by professional licensed handlers. Additionally, the organization said the production company provided an air-conditioned trailer for the animals.