People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has developed something of a reputation for being a decidedly left-wing, liberal organization over the years. I would argue that’s really not the case. These people are simply crazy and they’ll go after anyone they perceive as representing a ripe opportunity to generate some headlines and raise more donations, regardless of the target’s ideological leanings. That was proven yet again this week when they decided to declare war on Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon for encouraging the abuse of animals or something. (NY Post)

PETA asked the city to investigate the “The Tonight Show” Tuesday for improperly allowing celebrities such as Kate Beckinsale and Jacob Anderson to play with animals on the broadcast.

The animal rights organization is up in arms after NBC hired Grant Kemmerer of Wild World of Animals for various segments that involved celebrities touching animals, including having “The Widow” actress poke an African bullfrog.

On another episode, Anderson, who played Greyworm on “Game of Thrones,” was stuffed into a phone booth with Kemmerer, Jimmy Fallon and a python snake.

So the group’s complaint seems to be that Fallon was allowing animal handler Grant Kemmerer to bring live animals on the set and then letting other guests touch them. They had similar complaints about Robert Irwin (son of the late Steve Irwin) doing the same thing. I had to do some digging, but I did manage to find a clip of this “animal abuse” taking place with Irwin from a couple of years ago.

Really abusive, huh? The fact is that these people are experts in dealing with wild animals. They know which ones are dangerous and which can be handled with reasonable safety. And they also know what animal abuse is and are champions in fighting it.

This reminds me of the Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom days when the hosts would frequently show up on the show with Johnny Carson. Those were always some of my favorite segments because before the internet we didn’t have all that many opportunities to see exotic animals from other parts of the world. It was both fun and educational. I’m sure some of the smaller animals can get a bit stressed out by the crowds sometimes, but it hardly qualifies as abuse.

Let’s just call this out for what it is. PETA is run by a collection of strange people who pursue any number of inexplicable “causes” when they think it will drive headlines (and donations) without really doing all that much, if anything, to benefit animals. You probably recall their campaign to get people to stop eating crabs. That one backfired in a big way. And now they don’t want people petting animals on television shows, even when the guests are educating the public about endangered species. It’s kind of pitiful, really.