At the beginning of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, audiences learn that Bryce Dallas Howard's Claire Dearing founded the Dinosaur Protection Group in the wake of the vacationer's nightmare that was 2015's Jurassic World. Claire and her bright-eyed millennial volunteers spend their days raising awareness on behalf of the dinosaurs left behind on Isla Nublar, all of whom are in danger of dying fiery volcano deaths.
The DPG raises money, sets up meetings with senators to advocate for dinosaur rights, and — with alarmingly convenient timing — eventually receives seemingly kind-hearted monetary assistance from an eccentric billionaire's protégé and asset manager, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall). The billionaire, Benjamin Lockwood, portrayed by James Cromwell, turns out to be a former friend and partner of infamous Jurassic Park godfather John Hammond. Audiences learn in this fifth Jurassic Park installment that InGen co-founders Lockwood and Hammond parted ways after Lockwood took a more morally tricky path than simply bringing dinosaurs back to life. Now, his soul reformed, he wants to use his significant resources to help Claire's endangered dinos out of respect for all life and his former friend.
Of course, it all goes wrong. Lockwood's heart is in the right place, but the black market price for live dinosaurs is too much for Mills to pass up.
If dinosaurs existed in the real world, it seems fair to say that impassioned folks like Claire and Lockwood would do everything in their power to save them. SYFY WIRE reached out to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), the famously passionate animal rights advocacy group, to get its take on what a real-world response to impending dinosaur extinction would look like.
"Our number one approach to rescuing animals in peril would be to definitely get assistance from government entities. It would also be for people to understand the nature of these animals," PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange told SYFY WIRE. "Regardless of how these animals, or dinosaurs in this case, benefit human beings, [they have a lot of] value on their own. They deserve consideration based on who they are and what their needs are. Needs for a dinosaur would be, potentially, to run wild on his own island with others like him — without the interference and manipulation of human beings."
Of course, while there is real science behind bringing super-sized lizards back to life, dinosaurs (sadly?) do not exist anymore in our world. It wasn't hard for Lange to make the mental leap, though, and compare real-world situations to the Jurassic fantasy. When asked what PETA would do in a crisis situation like the impending eruption of an island-based volcano, she compared it to any other number of emergency situations.
"PETA sends in rescue teams when a hurricane or another natural disasters happen and animals are suffering as a result of that natural disaster," Lange says. "So, I guess that would be kind of a comparison. And then, you do whatever you can to allow these animals to continue living and continue eating and not suffer. For us, suffering is the big issue."
Lange quotes Cromwell's Lockwood ("These creatures don't need our protection. They need our absence") and praises the character.
"His quotes really are the essence of our approach to it," she says. "No fences, no cages, no tourists.' As an animal rights organization, what we see every day, from the way human beings manipulate animals — obviously in the movie it's dinosaurs, but today… we're manipulating populations of animals. It's always a bad idea. It's always bad for the animals in question, and it's always bad for the planet. And in many cases, it's bad for our health, when you're talking about the manipulation of animals so that we can kill large numbers of them quickly to eat them."
It's no surprise that PETA finds a friend in Lockwood — as Cromwell is a real-world PETA representative and animal rights advocate — and in Fallen Kingdom. The official PETA website published a blog post about animal rights advocacy lessons found in Fallen Kingdom and Lange gave several reasons why the Jurassic movies have inadvertently helped spread PETA's message.
"Really all of these Jurassic Park movies have really encouraged people to think about the bigger picture and the role we play in the devastation of the environment and the animals who live in it. We're just so grateful of the filmmakers for that," Lange says. "And in addition to that, we're extremely grateful that they made a movie about — well, it's about dinosaurs, obviously they'd never use a real dinosaur — but they've made a movie about animal lives, about animal protection, [and] our bad tendencies as the human race without exploiting one animal to make the point. [These movies] only use animatronics and CGI. And that's just lovely. So not only did they get across a very important message that we really hope is sinking in with people, but they did it without harming the hair on one animal's back. And that's tremendous."
While PETA is perhaps best known as the no-holds-barred animal rights group whose advertisements regularly get banned from the Super Bowl for being too racy and that tends to get called out for generally shocking statements, it is, for what it's worth, in agreement with Fallen Kingdom's heroes. Lockwood, Claire, and the other characters who believe in letting the dinosaurs roam free are presented as being in the right. Chimpanzees might be a bit less dangerous than the predatory Indoraptor introduced in Fallen Kingdom, but Lange compares the villainous black market buyers at the end of the film to people who trade in chimps for entertainment purposes.
"I'm afraid that whenever there's an opportunity for human beings to exploit an animal, or a dinosaur, out of greed and to benefit themselves, someone's going to do it," Lange says.
So, while dinosaurs only live in your wildest dreams, they'd at least have some dedicated friends in their corner if they ever became a reality.