A day after Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell made a joking plea for a pet lion during an appearance on the “Pardon My Take” podcast, animal rights organization PETA responded.
Don’t worry, they got the joke, but they also saw an opportunity to raise awareness for the poor living conditions of many lions held in captivity. In an equally playful attempt to satiate Campbell’s desire for a domesticated lion at the team’s facility in Allen Park, PETA is sending a plush lion named Dan Detroit to the coach, along with a letter.
Dear Coach Campbell,
Congratulations on your new role as head coach of the Detroit Lions! We heard your comments made in jest about acquiring a lion to keep as a “pet” at the team’s facilities. As you mentioned, lions are wild animals, and they don’t belong in football stadiums (or at roadside zoos or in people’s backyards).
Fortunately, the world is more aware now than ever before of the suffering endured by exotic animals when they’re condemned to live in a barren cage, forced to interact with members of the public, and coerced into doing demeaning tricks at the end of a chain and under threat of being whipped. And this awareness has meant that more decrepit roadside zoos that are incapable of taking care of animals have been shut down, abusive exhibitors have lost their licenses (or even gone to prison), and previously exploited big cats have found new homes in accredited sanctuaries.
So while the Detroit Lions should remain the only lions at Ford Field, we thought we would send you an addition to your team: Meet Dan Detroit the Lion!
Making Dan Detroit part of the Detroit Lions’ entourage will encourage an end to the abuse and exploitation of lions and other big cats as mascots or props and spare a wild animal a lifetime of suffering. He’s a symbol of support for all lions—both on the field and off.
All the best,
Celebrity Relations Manager
Campbell specifically mentioned PETA during his segment with “Pardon My Take,” which posted Monday.
“I don’t think we’re going to be able to do it, but I would love to literally just have a pet lion,” Campbell said. “Just a legit pet lion on a chain, a big-(butt) chain, and he really is my pet. We just walk around the building, we go out to practice, we’re at seven-on-seven, we’re behind the kicker when he’s kicking.
“The problem, I don’t know if PETA’s going to allow that,” Campbell continued. “Even though we would take great care of it. It would be fed well, it would be petted, it would be manicured. I might end up losing an arm because of it, but that would be even better because it would validate what, this is a freaking, this a creature now. This is an animal. This thing, this is from the wild.”
The Lions mascot, Roary, also had some fun with the comments via Twitter.
“Hey Coach Campbell, I hear you’re considering having a Lion come hang out at Lions practice.,” Roary wrote. “Just letting you know I’d be happy to help out whenever needed! Already well trained so no chain is necessary.”