MEDIA RELEASE: Ricky Gervais Calls for Release of Rocky the Confined Coyote to Wildlife Sanctuary
NORTHBROOK, Ill. (August 9, 2022) — Celebrity and animal rights advocate Ricky Gervais has joined In Defense of Animals in calling on Cook County officials to release Rocky, a coyote who is confined in a cage at the River Trail Nature Center in Northbrook.
In Defense of Animals and the grassroots organization Chicago Alliance for Animals have been working together on the campaign to free Rocky. More than 20,500 supporters have signed In Defense of Animals’ alert calling for the coyote’s transfer to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado.
“Rocky should not suffer the consequences of human error– it’s not his fault that people mistook him for a German Shepherd puppy. His physical and psychological deterioration must end. The fact that Rocky is on antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications is evidence of his inhumane captivity and urgent action is needed to help him. I stand with In Defense of Animals and demand Rocky be surrendered to an accredited sanctuary where he will be able to thrive for the rest of his life,” said Ricky Gervais.
Rocky is a 4-year-old coyote who was surrendered to Animal Control in Tennessee when he was mistaken for a German Shepherd puppy. Once labeled “imprinted on humans” and deemed unreleasable into the wild, he was transferred to Cook County Forest Preserve's River Trail Nature Center. There, he’s been living alone in a small, dismal enclosure next to the parking lot for four years. Rocky exhibits numerous signs of stress, such as pacing, biting and licking his paws, and scratching, for which he is on antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications.
Despite widespread media coverage and increasing pressure to release Rocky to a sanctuary, on July 26, Cook County officials made the decision to keep Rocky at the nature center and simply enlarge his enclosure. In Defense of Animals, the Chicago Alliance for Animals, and countless other activists are pushing back against this decision and demanding that he be released to the wildlife sanctuary. It is inhumane to keep a coyote alone in a cage (regardless of the size) for the rest of his life. Rocky deserves to have plenty of space to roam, hide in underground tunnels, integrate with his own species, and be taken off the drugs that are used to address his stress. He should be free to live in as natural an environment as possible, and living at the sanctuary will meet his true needs.
“For his well-being and his long-term health, Rocky should be surrendered to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado,” said Brittany Michelson, Captive Animals Campaigner for In Defense of Animals. “Just because he interacted with humans instead of other coyotes at a young age, doesn't mean he should be deprived of the opportunity to socialize with members of his own species. Rocky is clearly suffering at the River Trail Nature Center and the ethical thing to do is to allow him to live out his days in a sanctuary.”
Members of the public are encouraged to take action:
Contact: Brittany Michelson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 928-420-0727
In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization based in Marin, California, with over 250,000 supporters and a 39-year history of fighting for animals, people, and the environment through education and campaigns, as well as hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi. www.idausa.org/wildanimals