Film may put critters in false light

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: July 24, 2009
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LOS ANGELES — The Disney movie "G-Force” shows a squad of specially trained, computer-generated guinea pig spies coming to the world’s rescue. After the movie comes out, though, animal activists say it will be real-life guinea pigs who need rescuing.

Some guinea pig rescue groups have already posted pleas to those who might rush out to buy the furry little rodents. "I can tell you, every single rescue in the United States and abroad took a look at that movie trailer and said, ‘Oh God, here we go,’” said Whitney Potsus, vice president of The Critter Connection Inc. in Durham, Conn.

The Orange County Cavy (AKA guinea pig) Haven in Costa Mesa has already posted urgent Internet pleas to parents asking them to say no when their children beg for guinea pigs, because the animals are too fragile for young children.

It’s happened before. Some call it ‘101 Dalmatians syndrome,’ after the live-action Disney movie that sent thousands rushing to buy the black-and-white spotted pups. When the dogs failed to act like those in the movie, families gave them up, breeders said.

The popularity of Chihuahuas soared after "Legally Blonde” and "Beverly Hills Chihuahua” and when Taco Bell featured one in an ad campaign. Ferrets were the animal of choice after "Along Came Polly” and guinea pigs after "Bedtime Stories.”

In "G-Force,” which opens today, Agents Juarez, Darwin and Blaster drive cars, parachute, use blowtorches, swim, talk, walk on two legs, live in tanks with mice and rats and use hamster balls, Lyn Zantow, a volunteer for the Orange County group, warns on her Web site.

In real life, guinea pigs are noisy, eat and poop all the time, require big and clean cages, don’t swim and can be expensive to care for if they get sick, she said, adding that they should be kept out of the hands of young children.

"We can only hope … parents will all do their research before bringing any critters home.