Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Shocking Show Business Coming To A Screen Near You Warns ADI & Celebrities

Posted: 29 July 2011. Updated: 16 April 2015

Next movie for the elephants filmed being electric shocked during training is “Zookeeper” with Kevin James – premiering in the UK today

An elephant exposed by London based Animal Defenders International (ADI) being trained by the use of violent methods including bull hooks and electric shock devices at US based ‘Have Trunk Will Travel’ (HTWT), will be appearing in ‘Zookeeper’, premiering in the UK today, Friday 29th July. Rosie, the elephant concerned appears in ADI’s footage, featured below:

More video evidence of movie elephant suffering... from Animal Defenders on Vimeo.

ADI is calling on members of the public to boycott the film and write to the film’s distributors, Sony Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and its stars, to say that it is time for Hollywood to help stamp out animal suffering, once and for all. Performing animals have no place in films and TV commercials as they are trained through pain and fear of further punishment, rather than a natural willingness to obey.


Animal suffering is ‘never romantic, never entertainment’

Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of ADI said: “When the elephants trained at HTWT, including Rosie, cried out as they were electric shocked and mistreated in our undercover video, it was a long way from the glitzy premieres and movie theatres. These poor elephants were trained by being given electric shocks and being beaten. Animal suffering is never romantic and it is never entertainment.

“People need to think very carefully before they go and see films with performing animals, especially wild animals like elephants. Our message is that if you care about animals, then don’t go to see films where performing animals appear.

“The suffering at Have Trunk Will Travel is receiving universal condemnation around the world from veterinarians, elephant experts, zoo industry insiders, the public and celebrities – and for very good reason. The use of wild animals in film and entertainment is becoming more and more controversial and their use is a cruel luxury that studios can simply no longer allow to continue.”

Celebrity designer and ADI Ambassador Meg Mathews said: “I have watched the footage which really upset me. It is deplorable that animals are trained in such a manner, and if you like animals, I would urge you to boycott this film. It may be being promoted as a comedy, but the abuse of animals is no laughing matter.”

And Brian Blessed, the revered actor, author, and ADI Ambassador said: “The abuse and suffering inflicted on these majestic beasts as part of their training is a disgrace. This is no way to treat the highly intelligent, sensitive and social elephant and the trainers should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.”

Have Trunk Will Travel have provided elephants for films and advertisements and appearances have included Water for Elephants, Evan Almighty, Jungle Book, Ace Ventura When Nature Calls, and The Britney Spears Music Video “Circus”.

ADI files lawsuit

Last month ADI, together with members of the public filed suit in the US against Have Trunk Will Travel, as well as the owners Gary and Kari Johnson, over their claims about the training of Tai, who played Rosie in the film ‘Water for Elephants’, co starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson.

This lawsuit is based on misleading and fraudulent claims made about the training of their elephants with kindness. ADI’s video clearly shows that this is untrue, and members of the public have felt understandably defrauded because they would have not watched the movie if they had realised there had been cruelty in their training. The papers were served on the Johnson’s earlier this week.

Another sad casualty of the Zookeeper film has been ‘Tweet’, an 18 year old male Giraffe, who died days after filming his final scene due to the stressful, unnatural life that he led in Hollywood, starring in films such as Ace Ventura and Evan Almighty. Giraffes can live for thirty years or longer, so poor Tweet was cut down in his prime.

Tim Phillips, Campaigns Director of Animal Defenders International said: “When these animals arrive on set, trained up and ready to perform on command, I think the actors and the movie makers want to believe they are trained by love and kindness. We have now proved otherwise by showing to the world the reality of these animals training from inside Have Trunk Will Travel.

“It’s time to stamp out the suffering. Producers need to start by asking whether their film really needs the lifetime sacrifice paid by a living animal. Then they need to work out whether they can genuinely assure audiences of humane treatment.”

ADI is in the process of mobilising its supporters to distribute leaflets, write to the studios and the stars of the film and contact the local cinema, to make all aware of the needless animal cruelty that has gone into the making of this film. If you would like to get in touch with ADI’s office to show support please contact: 0207 630 3340 or email:

‘Zookeeper’ is a film with Kevin James with the voices of Adam Sandler, Sylvester Stallone and Cher. You can watch the trailer here.

© Animal Defenders International 2020