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Emmy-winning comedian and actress Kirstie Alley, who died in December 2022 after a brief battle with colon cancer, was known for being an animal lover. In addition to her dogs, she had several other pets who most would say were rather unconventional. In her expansive, 1930s-set home in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles, she housed a flock of wild birds (for which she held a special license), monkeys, and 14 lemurs. It’s unclear how she was able to keep the monkeys and lemurs without getting in trouble, seeing as they are illegal to own as pets in California.
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Alley told The Meredith Vieira Show in 2016 that she started with lemurs because she saw them as a “great animal” and that she was very interested in Conservation in Madagascar, where they are from, and saving rainforests and forests.” She claimed that it was “easy” to have the lemurs in Los Angeles, as the climate is “almost identical” to that of their native habitat. Apparently, she once took one of her pet lemurs through airport security. However, even though she said that it was safe to be around lemurs, who are known to be friendly, she wouldn’t recommend that other people have them as pets.
“It’s a huge responsibility,” she said, referring to the fact that lemurs can live 30 years or longer. She had a paid, full-time animal caregiver who did all the work for her
Kirstie wasn’t the only wealthy celebrity to own exotic pets; Paris Hilton had a pet kinkajou, Mike Tyson used to have big cats like tigers, Nicolas Cage domesticated poisonous cobras, and Justin Bieber had a pet capuchin monkey. Most likely, these individuals were able to avoid being fined or arrested as a result of being rich and famous, and instead of advocating for adoption and rescue, these same individuals may have gone to great lengths to obtain certain rare breeds and species. Unfortunately, because these animals are often purchased when they’re young, if they are ever sent to a zoo or sanctuary, they will undoubtedly have difficulty adjusting to that lifestyle.
When Alley’s passing was announced, PETA took to Twitter to pay tribute to her, saying that she “appreciated every animal” and that she “fought for a future without animal experiments or marine park captivity. Her desire to improve the world for every species will leave a lasting impact.” While she was not a vegan or vegetarian, Alley often advocated for animals on social media, where she was known to be unfiltered and, at times, offensive and/or controversial in her political views.
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