Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Timing of the release of footage exposing cruel training of elephants

Posted: 11 May 2011. Updated: 11 May 2011


(including Tai who features in the film Water for Elephants)

Without giving details of how ADI secured this footage, there are many judgements to be made when releasing undercover footage in terms of how to achieve lasting change for animals.
We should not make the presumption that all of the treatment of animals in the video is actually illegal – brutal control methods are used on performing animals all over the world, every day. We also have to consider the safety of our sources, investigators and work to achieve protection for those animals not filmed. We have exposed similar treatment of animals in circuses over the past two decades, but the animals cannot always be rescued through the law. We have rescued some, but not all, and that is often heart-breaking.

In our experience, lasting change for animals is achieved by thorough and wide-ranging studies of industry practices. This footage had not been released, as it was part of a wider study. However, in this instance we felt obligated to release it because global promotion of the film was being used to spread misinformation about elephant training – claims were being made around the world concerning the lifetime training of these animals.

It is not enough to simply put out footage as soon as it is obtained, if we know that it might not have the full impact for animals that we need. We have to bear in mind that it might be impossible to secure further evidence. When animal cruelty is legalised you cannot simply release footage and expect it to stop. ADI leads the world in exposing cruelty and securing permanent protection for animals because we take these tough decisions.

ADI President Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of ADI said yesterday: “We were uncomfortable with the message of this film, but the more we saw the repeated assertions that this elephant has been treated with love and affection and never been abused, we realized that we had to get the truth out. The public, the stars and the filmmakers have been duped. This poor elephant was trained to do the very tricks you see in the film by being given electric shocks.”

To date nothing that appears in the video has been denied by Have Trunk Will Travel who supplied Tai for the film Water for Elephants and the forthcoming film Zookeeper.

Read the full story and see the video here

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