7 movies that inspired animal trends

Posted September 30

Movies have influenced pop culture, from music to clothes, sparking certain trends, including animal trends, according to Mental Floss. From “Finding Nemo” to this summer's “Secret Life of Pets,” the notion that pets can talk and do amazing tricks has inspired certain breeds featured in movies to become a hot commodity.

With the release of the movie “Finding Dory” in June, Fox Carolina reported that the blue tang has become high in demand as parents are buying the exotic fish for the kids. But the blue tang is not suitable for a home aquarium life-style, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

"There is a very real chance that species of fish could be wiped out, meaning near extinction in the wild," said Rene Umberger, executive director at Hawaii-based For the Fishes, in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel. "The fishermen already report that they must go farther and farther out from land to find the blue tang, and the movie (hadn’t) even come out yet."

The blue tang isn’t the only animal to part of this kind of phenomenon, as many animals have become unsafe from their depictions on screen. Here is a look at just a few.

"Lassie Come Home" (1943)

In this Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Technicolor feature film, the stars included a canine actor, Pal, a rough collie, who portrayed Lassie, the family dog. After the release of the film, this lovable dog was “catapulted into fame,” Mental Floss reported. Within the first two years of the movie being released, collie registration went up 40 percent with the American Kennel Club, according to Science Daily's "Impact of movies on dog breed popularity."

"The Shaggy Dog" (1959)

After Lassie came Wilbur, a boy turned canine, in the black-and-white Disney film "The Shaggy Dog." After the film's release, Old English sheepdog registration in America increased 100-fold, Science Daily reported. According to Mental Floss, films that starred canines in the 20th century was rare with only one per year but by 2005, there were seven films in one year that starred a dog. The website reports this increased saturation of dog movies has led to a decrease in film-inspired popularity for dog breeds.

"101 Dalmatians" (1961, 1996)

The 1961 animated version of this film was re-released twice by 1991 and each time, amateur breeders and pup mills saturated the market with dalmatians, according to "After Movies, Unwanted Dalmatians" in The New York Times. According to the article, this specific breed can be very hard to handle, and when families soon figured this out, it led to their abandonment. Mental Floss reported that following the live-action remake of the film in 1996, a dalmatian rescue group in Miami, Florida, received 130 dalmatians in less than a year after the film was released, a number the website reports normally would have taken the shelter two years to reach.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" (1990)

These crime-fighting turtles swept the nation in the 90s, inspiring a “surge in the popularity of these reptilian pets,” Mental Floss stated. But the website said it also led to the abandonment or illegal dumping in rivers of many of these creatures.

“Unfortunately, children do not realize that real turtles do not fly, perform stunts or do any of the exciting moves fictional movie turtles do,” the co-founders of the American Tortoise Rescue said in an open letter to parents in response to the release of the new live-action "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" in 2014. “(When) the kids realized after a few weeks that these were not ninja turtles, the turtles were dumped illegally into rivers and lakes as well as dumpsters, flushed down toilets, or relinquished to shelters and overcrowded rescues. It’s estimated that 90 percent died.”

"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (2001)

After the first installment of the Harry Potter film series, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” many fans sought owls like Harry's snowy owl named Hedwig. But when the new owl owners became uninterested in the pet owls, hundreds owls were abandoned in England, according to the Huffington Post. One owl rescuer told Mirror that the number of owls she took care of went from six to 100 after the films were released.

"Finding Nemo" (2003)

The prequel to “Finding Dory” is centered around a father clownfish on the journey to find his lost son, who was taken from the reef. After the release of this film, the demand for clownfish soared, dropping the clown fish population in some reefs by 75 percent, according to Real Clear Science. While some would think this film would create a “conservationist attitude” toward the species, it actually did the exact opposite, Mental Floss said.

"Thousands of clownfish died after 'Finding Nemo,'" said Marcye Sweeney, owner of Sea in the City, in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel. "People will tell you that you can set up an aquarium immediately and raise these fish, but they are generally wrong. It's not that easy."

"Zootopia" (2016)

This recent Disney movie depicts a world only of animals, centered around the unlikely duo of a bunny cop and a fox con-artist. The fox’s partner in crime is a fennec fox. Since the release of this film, the sales of the native Africa fox took off around the globe, said Teresa Telecky, director of wildlife at Humane Society International, in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel. In China alone, reports state that that queries for the fennec fox, priced starting around $3,075, skyrocketed from “near zero at the start of the month (March, the month the film was released) to a peak of more than 6,500 a day by March 17,” only two weeks after the film hit theaters, according to The Los Angeles Times.

"If trading fennec foxes becomes a widely practiced business in China, the illegal trade of fennec foxes from their native region will certainly increase," said Zhang Jinshuo, an associate professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Zoology, in an interview with The Los Angeles Times. "That will reduce the number of wild fennec foxes and ultimately could lead to the extinction of this species."

Email: ewhite@deseretnews.com


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