Kevin James and “Zookeeper” can kiss my ass »
[Can see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com]
Tai the elephant “actor” is in this new movie Zookeeper. I call WTF: what are these movie people thinking? After the above footage came out depicting Tai getting abused in “training” for Water for Elephants, how can people just release a movie with that same elephant without at least a billion-dollar donation to an elephant welfare group? Not that a donation makes it OK, but I’m assuming they filmed before the Animal Defenders International footage was released, so maybe they didn’t get what elephant “training” actually looks like. Now that the reality of Tai’s abuse is out for everyone to see, people who have worked with Tai should be defending her! Right? If they really liked working with her and she’s such a great animal and all that? These Hollywood people get on my nerves. They actually could do something to help Tai and they don’t!
There are some people who aren’t celebrating the mistreatment of Tai; she was supposed to appear in a July Fourth parade in Sierra Madre, CA, but people flipped! Go people! The city got a ton of letters from people asking that Tai not be in the parade and blammo! She’s not. Besides taking a stand against the abuse we know Tai suffered, PETA also points out that elephants and fireworks maybe don’t go together that great. Fireworks are scary! A scared elephant is no joke! People get stomped! It’s dangerous.
So that’s the good news—kudos, Sierra Madre! I just wish Kevin James would say something about this Zookeeper bullshit. Like, at least a “my bad! Here’s a zillion dollars for the elephants!”
More footage from Have Trunk Will Travel, the “trainers” of Tai, elephant star of Water for Elephants. This time the footage is of daily life. What you can see in the video, from Animal Defenders International:
- Have Trunk Will Travel boss Kari Johnson viciously striking an elephant
- A baby elephant being hit over the head and dragged by the trunk
- Elephants being hit and jabbed with bull hooks
- Elephants chained by the legs barely able to move (the elephants were being chained from 6.30 p.m. to 6.30 a.m., 12 hours a day)
The stuff with the baby elephants is really too much. Poor little babies. ADI released this footage because after the last footage they released, the owners of Have Trunk Will Travel, the Johnsons, were like, “say whaaa? We treat our elephants super!” So that’s why it’s pretty incredible that you can see owner Kari Johnson straight up beating elephants with a bullhook. Can’t claim ignorance now, d-bag!
If you remember, the first time I wrote about Water for Elephants, I mentioned Kari Johnson’s testimony at a Ringling trial. She says, “the guide”—aka the bullhook—“is used to reinforce the verbal cue.” Um, yeah, used like a baseball bat with a hook on the end. That will no doubt reinforce a verbal cue. In related news: SHE’S A MONSTER!
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 email@example.com, if you live in the U.S. please contact firstname.lastname@example.org 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?!
Perez Hilton speaks out against Factory Farming! He says, “Whether you are a meat-eater or VEGAN you can stand behind animals in the meat trade.” That’s cool, but just go vegan. Then we won’t have an issue like factory farms, where animals are tortured and sexually abused (humans are the worst).
Florida and Iowa are trying to make undercover investigations of factory farms ILLEGAL! To which Perez, a Florida native responds “A citizen’s right to document cruelty to animals—wherever it occurs—is crucial to helping local, state, and federal officials enforce anti-cruelty laws. What we need are more cameras on factory farms, not fewer.”
I love celebrities who stand up for animals. I love them even more when they are VEGAN. I’m a pop culture whore. I don’t want to discuss how upset I am about boycotting Water for Elephants. The book is incredible! Robert Pattinson is the vamp of my dreams! Don’t try to tell me he’s not a vampire in real life, the conversation won’t go very well.
Opening night of Water for Elephants—it’s time to educate the disgusting sea of humanity! Your help needed! »
Megan needs a break from the elephant beat so I’m stepping in because I think they’re fucking awesome, too. I’m just a worse and less-motivated human being than Megan. Ugh, I hate talking about my many failures as a human being. Let’s also just say I have a nice rack and a cool dog. Okay, even-stevens!
IDA is setting up leafletting events around the country for opening night of Water for Elephants. You should go for two reasons. 1) Megan already proved that it’s a terrible movie for ellies and it’s getting terrible reviews, anyway! Eff that noise!; and 2) You’ll already be at a theater you can go see Your Highness because it’s fucking in and Water for Elephants is fucking out! Or, see Rio (either sober with kids or high without kids or high with kids OMG YOU’RE A TERRIBLE PARENT)! Or, you know, you can read my movie previews over at SF Appeal and find out what I think about even more things! That’s right, I’ve got opinions on shit besides vegan stuff! Like movies! Plus, you should support me, you know I would totally give you a kidney, the least you can do is READ MY DAMN MOVIE PREVIEWS.
One more time with the real point of this whole post I am so very tired: Tomorrow night, do a solid for the ellies of the world by educating the masses! You’re the best! I’m taking off my top and shimmying in your direction!
Water for Elephants looks like some crazy elephant-exploiting bullshit »
As soon as I saw the commercial for Water for Elephants, in which Robert Pattinson pretends to care about animals, I cringed something awful. How pathetic is that picture above? The smirk on Pattinson’s face? The chain around the elephant’s foot? Good grief. And really? A live elephant in a movie? Still? COME ON! Even if this particular elephant lived a lavish life of ecstasy, captive elephants promote abuse in the industry, and are not OK. But spoiler alert: I’m not so sure this elephant lives a lavish life of ecstasy!
The elephant in the movie’s name is Tai. I look for information on her and it turns out she’s part of a whole elephant troupe, Have Trunk Will Travel: serving all your circus, movie and wedding needs! Charming. Reading an interview with the trainer, he’s like, “Tai has so much fun acting!” Sounds super. I’m sure it beats roaming the plains free with your family (I mean, as long as Go Daddy isn’t on vacation).
But wait! There’s more! Turns out, Have Trunk Will Travel is BFF with notorious elephant-abusers the Ringling Brothers and even testified for them in the court case against Ringling not too far back. Because I am so dedicated, I read the crazy-ass transcript from their testimony for you and it is NUTSO.
The witness, Kari Johnson, who runs Have Trunk Will Travel with her husband Gary, is asked all these questions about elephants and her answers are totally bizarro. My absolute favorite part is when she’s testifying about the bullhook—or “guide” as she calls it—and the judge is like, “um, WTF?” and she’s all like, “uh…”:
THE COURT: Is the guide designed to penetrate the skin?
THE WITNESS: It can; it shouldn’t.
Q: And is the guide intended to cause pain to an elephant?
Q: In your experience, do elephants fear the guide?
Q: The guide can penetrate the skin though?
Q: And cause bleeding?
A: Yes, it can.
Q: That is not uncommon?
A: It’s—it’s—it shouldn’t be common, but it happens, yes.
Q: All right. I’m talking about that point, though. That point—does it have the potential of harming an elephant, that point?
A: I am sure it would have the potential, but that’s not what it is for. It’s—
Q: Why is it there, then?
Johnson then tells the judge that the elephant’s skin is so thick, it wouldn’t feel anything duller than the pointed hook. Then of course in the cross-examination, she states that elephants are super-sensitive and could feel a fly on their skin. Thanks, elephant queen, you are really clearing things up. The best part about these statements is that they are supposed to be in favor of Ringling. If you want a really good time, read the cross examination [pdf]. That shit is a bit brutal.
These people are disgusting. They actually fight for rights to exploit elephants. They are totally active in the animal incarceration community: “When there’s—well, any sort of elephant legislation, I go to wherever that might be, whatever state, or whatever town or city in California, wherever it might be, and advocate basically to be able to use the guides and tethers, and be able to manage the elephants in free contact like we do,” says Kari. Mind you, “be able to manage the elephants in free contact like we do” means BULLHOOK. Wow.
I’ve never read the book the movie is based on because I’m allergic to reading but it’s my understanding that the subplot is all about the suffering of this elephant in the circus. So I guess Tai is perfect for the role? Apparently Have Trunk Will Travel is really into method acting! Good morning, irony:
Q: As part of your husbandry expertise, have you provided food and water to elephants?
Q: Is it necessary for elephants to have free access to water throughout the day?
The moral of this story is: boycott this terrible movie and tell your friends and family to do the same. If you gotta see a movie about elephants (I know you!), check out The Elephant in the Living Room instead. Or even better, donate your ticket money to the The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Now, let’s look at the awesome elephants who live there and for the first time today, be happy.