HIGH POINT, N.C., Nov. 18, 2014 – Humans and animals alike recently filled High Point University’s Francis Auditorium of Phillips Hall for a presentation by Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association (AHA).
Gaznert explained the 75-year history of AHA, which protects more than 100,000 animal actors every year through programs like the “No Animals Were Harmed” film and television initiative. She went on to relate stories about the trainers, actors, directors and animals involved in creating television and film animal stars.
“Eighty-five percent of our animal actors are rescues,” said Ganzert. “By becoming animal stars, these animals have a second chance at a better life.”
Ganzert told the audience how Casey the bear, the animal star in the 1994 film “The Jungle Book” and “Back to the Future Part III,” only worked for Kentucky Fried Chicken original recipe. She also spoke about the diva-like tendencies of Crystal the capuchin monkey – who has made a name for herself in the “Night at the Museum” franchise, “The Hangover Part II” and “We Bought a Zoo.”
Expert trainer Christina Potter used both hand signals and voice commands to demonstrate the talents of Hudson, Chester, Morgan and Pepe the dogs. Chester, who most recently starred in a Sky Movies commercial, barked on command, carried a stuffed animal and put on his best “bored” persona. The Chinese crested dog Morgan, who has been on “Project Runway,” donned a fall sweater while she danced for cheese rewards. Hudson the golden retriever, who starred as Paul Rudd’s dog in the 2011 film “Our Idiot Brother” and appeared as Mitt Romney’s dog on “Saturday Night Live,” performed a variety of tricks. He acted out a dramatic death scene, said his prayers and ran a figure eight between Potter’s legs before concluding his performance by taking a bow.
Guest appearances were also made by High Point locals Donna Lawrence and Susie the dog, the inspirations behind the film “Susie’s Hope.”
“If you really want a life of success and significance,” said Ganzert as she wrapped up the presentation, “embrace every opportunity you are given to make social change. But be part of the change. You can make a difference. Embrace a career where your voice is heard.”
Ganzert is the author of “Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors.”