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Odell Beckham Jr. playing catch with chimp draws PETA’s ire

Odell Beckham Jr. has been criticized by PETA over a video that shows the New York Giants wide receiver playing catch with a chimpanzee.

The video, originally posted to Beckham’s Instagram account earlier this week, also included him interacting with a large wild cat. The animals were said to be provided by Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina.

Beckham is joined in the video by Mike Holston, whose social media accounts indicates he specializes in animal education and conservation, per NJ.com.

PETA has since issued a statement deploring the video, in which the animal rights organization rails against the “misguided” footage.

“These sensitive and much-abused animals belong with their families in nature, not pimped out as props by shameless roadside zoos,” PETA Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet said in a statement, via the New York Post. “We’re sure that Odell Beckham Jr. had no idea that the sleazy safari park where this young chimpanzee is kept has a lengthy record of violating federal law and uses great apes and big-cat cubs in cheap publicity stunts like this.”

Doc Antle, director of Myrtle Beach Safari, argued against PETA’s characterizations of the operation, pointing out that millions of dollars have been donated to such causes as ape conservation and that having the likes of Beckham showcase the animals helps raise awareness.

“This is not a backyard zoo,” Antle told WFAN. “This is a really magnificent, wonderful place.”

Perhaps causing Giants fans the most consternation, though, is how PETA’s statement also alludes to Beckam’s injury-prone history as another reason to avoid such interactions with wild animals.

“These encounters are incredibly dangerous, and PETA urges everyone — including Beckham, who certainly doesn’t want another injury — to steer clear of cruel facilities that exploit animals,” the statement added.