ANIMAL-RIGHTS GROUP PROTESTS USE OF PEGUINS IN `BATMAN RETURNS'

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) announced plans Monday to protest the movie "Batman Returns," saying penguins in the film should have been left in Antarctica.

Danny DeVito stars in the $80 million sequel to "Batman" as The Penguin, who is assisted in his evil deeds by an army of real penguins, puppets, actors in bird suits, and computer-generated animals.

While PETA says it does not believe any of the three dozen penguins were mistreated during the filming, it objects to the animals being forced into an unusual environment and fitted with weapons and gadgets. Dan Mathews, the group's director of special projects, says they are "protesting the use of exotic animals in all films."

A Warner Bros. news release says the penguins' headgear consists of "very lightweight plastic, which the real animals quickly became used to." The studio's publicist, Vivian Boyer, did not immediately return a telephone call Monday seeking comment.

"Batman Returns" opens around the country tomorrow.

The Monitor will review "Batman Returns" on Tuesday, June 23.

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