The ele-star of Water for Elephants did not have the magical gentle training her owners claim. Shocking! Did I call it? Did I mother-loving call it?! People kept telling me, “Oh they had people on set to monitor the elephant’s treatment, no animals were harmed,” and I’m like BULLSHIT. And regardless of training methods, elephants should not be in movies! Simply having a wild animal in a movie is bad, even if you pay her in hugs and kisses. Elephants should be living out their lives in peace with other elephants taking baths and playing around, not doing “tricks” or “acting.”
Second, EXACTLY! This is how elephants are trained! I don’t care what happened on set, this is the reality of training elephants. Can you imagine that these ginormous animals actually want to do headstands? I really doubt gymnastics is a popular elective at the various elephant after-school programs. And just like with people, you don’t have to keep beating an animal to get it to submit, you just have to threaten the beatings again. You think Tai doesn’t remember the stuff on this tape when she’s “acting” on set? Yeah right. Electric shocks and bullhooks are not easy to forget.
Last time I posted a scary video, someone said maybe I should just write out what goes on in case they don’t want to see the actual footage. From Animal Defenders International:
- Elephants including Tai are repeatedly given electric shocks with hand held stun guns
- Tai cries out when being shocked into performing a headstand
- Elephants including Tai are beaten about the body and legs with bull hooks
- A baby elephant is hooked in the lip and cries out
- An elephant is pinned with bull hooks whilst her tusks are sawn down, close to the bone
Also from ADI, what you can do:
- Please contact ADI today and find out how you can speak up for Tai and all animals being abused in the entertainment industry. If you live in the UK, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, if you live in the U.S. please contact email@example.com and ask for a Water for Elephants Letter Writing Pack.
- Boycott this film and tell your family and friends to take a stand against animal cruelty by only supporting films without animal actors.
- Leaflet moviegoers at a theater near you to educate them about the abuse of Tai and other performing animals. Contact ADI to order leaflets.
- Contact your local theater with a copy of the DVD we can provide you, and politely ask them to make the right choice and stop showing the film.
- Contact ADI for a letter writing pack with sample letters to Water for Elephants actors and movie makers, and sample letters to the editor to help you raise your voice for Tai and the other animals abused for entertainment.
- Write a letter to your local paper about Tai’s abuse and educate the public that animal suffering is never romantic and it is never entertainment. (Sample letters available in our letter writing pack.)
- Contact the Director and Producer and politely ask that they make Water for Elephants the last film they will use live animal actors. (Contacts and sample letters available in our letter writing pack.)
- Share the link to the video on your Facebook and other social networking sites, to spread the word to family and friends.
ADI has sent a copy of the footage to stars Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. We’ll see what they say. They better be PISSED! My dream is that they will totally buy Tai and the entire Have Trunk Will Travel herd and build them an awesome sanctuary in Hollywood where all the performing animals can retire! Right? What else?! They would feed them vegan cupcakes for dinner and Robert Pattinson would read them Good Night Moon every night! Right?! What else!? They would sleep on 900-count Egyptian cotton sheets on mattresses filled with dandelions! What else?!
Help Anne, the abused UK circus elephant »
Animal Defenders International released some really disturbing footage of Anne, Britain’s last circus elephant, being kicked, stabbed and beaten. ADI secretly filmed the elephant for three and a half weeks over which period, the elephant was beaten repeatedly. You can read more and watch the video at the Daily Mail website. It’s pretty awful. I was so sad, that I made this picture for Anne. Sometimes Illustrator makes me feel better.
From ADI, here are some things you can do to help Anne:
- Write to your MP at: The House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.
- Write to Lord Henley, the Minister responsible for animal welfare at: The House of Lords, London, SW1A 0WP.
- Join our Street Team and raise awareness in your local area.
- Make a donation and help fund our campaign to end circus suffering.
- For more information, contact ADI. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- For press enquiries, please contact ADI Media Relations Director Phil Buckley on 07716 018 250
UPDATE!: Like the Facebook page to get justice for Anne!
Bolivia’s ban on circus animals leads to rescue and rehoming of 25 lions! »
In November of last year, Animals Lebanon rescued a chimpanzee from his life as a literal roadside attraction in Lebanon, and rehomed him at a sanctuary in Brazil. This month, Animal Defenders International celebrates a similar victory, as 24 former circus lions were rescued from Bolivia and rehomed at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in “the open plains of Colorado, just 30 miles northeast of Denver.” And soon, they’ll have a 25th rescued lions! Hooray!
These lions came from different circuses all over the country, and all their stories are so sad. One had been kept in the same metal box she was came in when she was purchased as a cub. One is completely freaked out by brooms and other cleaning implements, as though he had had experienced some cleaning-equipment-related trauma before. You don’t mean to imply that people might have beaten him with brooms, do you? YES, YES WE DO. Some of them have trouble eating, behaving as though they are “convinced that the food is going to be taken away again.”
Obviously, circus animal abuse is not endemic to Bolivia—in fact, since 2009 Bolivia is the first and only country in the world “to put in place a national ban on the use of any and all animals in circuses.” FIRST and ONLY. Don’t you love comparing other countries to the U.S. and seeing how terrible we make it for animals here?
ADI reports that all of the rescued lions are adapting relatively well to their great big new living areas. Congratulations to the efforts of everyone involved in Operation Lion Ark: this is beautiful, heartening news.
UPDATE: A couple of you noted that China passed a similar law, which Laura posted about last week! Bolivia remains the only country to have outright banned using animals—domestic and wild!—in circuses; China no longer allows animal-exclusive circuses, and its protections for performing animals look quite strong. U.S. circuses, however, remain the devil’s work.