The Walking Dead is a gruesome series that hasn't been afraid to kill man, woman, child, and/or animal over the years. Non-humans have gotten some rough treatment courtesy of survivors and zombies alike, as we've seen two horses eaten alive, one squirrel eaten raw, a deer munched on by a Walker, a snake skinned, and a pack of dogs eaten as lunch by Rick and Co. Surprisingly, PETA is currently pretty happy with what's going on in the world of The Walking Dead's zombie apocalypse, and the organization has officially commended the show for using a CGI tiger rather than a live tiger for a Season 7 plot.
Shiva the tiger will turn up on The Walking Dead as the companion of the comic character King Ezekiel. We've known for a while that Ezekiel would appear in Season 7, and it didn't seem possible that he could play a part in the show without Shiva by his side. The big question was of how the full-grown tiger could be incorporated into the series, and comic scribe Robert Kirkman finally revealed at San Diego Comic-Con that showrunner Scott Gimple decided that it would not be humane to have a live tiger on set. Instead, The Walking Dead would use a combination of CGI and animatronics to bring Shiva to life. PETA was so impressed that the show was choosing compassion over convenience that it awarded The Walking Dead its Innovation in Television Award.
Unfortunately for PETA, The Walking Dead didn't have too much competition when it comes to major shows deserving credit for humane attitudes toward the treatment of animals. The CBS series Zoo has been notable for violating PETA's standards. Episodes have featured actual wolves, big cats, baboons, and a polar bear in a plot about animals attacking society at large and PETA says some not-so-great things have happened on the set. Zoo got off to a slow start in the ratings for Season 2, so PETA may not need to worry about that drama much longer.
We don't have to worry about The Walking Dead getting the axe any time soon, but Shiva's future isn't too certain, since the tiger's lifespan in the comics wasn't exactly overextended. Given that Shiva won't be cheap to include in Season 7 with all the CGI and animatronics, we might not want to get too attached to Ezekiel's tiger. The PETA award is a nice acknowledgment that The Walking Dead is doing a good thing by not using a live animal, but it won't necessarily be enough to stop the Walking Dead team from killing her off. Still, as long as Season 7 doesn't feature any animal sex scenes, The Walking Dead might stay in PETA's good graces.
Only time will tell how large a role Shiva will play in Season 7 and whether or not she lasts longer than her comic counterpart. Check out our breakdown of what we know so far about The Walking Dead Season 7, and take a look at our fall TV premiere schedule to see what you'll be able to catch on the small screen in the not-too-distant future.