Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Hollywood Reporter investigation reveals American Humane Association fails to protect animals on-set

Posted: 27 November 2013. Updated: 2 December 2013


An investigation conducted by The Hollywood Reporter has uncovered a number of instances where the American Humane Association (AHA) failed to protect animals on the set of well-known film and television productions.

This report comes only months after Barbara Casey, former Director of Production in the AHA’s Film and Television Unit, sued the AHA for wrongful termination. Casey cited several instances where animals were allegedly harmed on sets that still received a “No Animals Were Harmed” credit, claiming the AHA “often allows production companies to dictate the method and manner by which AHA operates on set in order to allow the producer maximum flexibility, often times in complete disregard for the safe and humane treatment of animals…” Read more.

Alleged instances described in The Hollywood Reporter’s investigation include the following:

  • In an email to a colleague, an American Humane Association monitor confided that a Bengal tiger used in Ang Lee’s Life of Pi “Damn near drowned” on set. The monitor attempted to cover up the incident, saying “I think this goes without saying but DON’T MENTION IT TO ANYONE, ESPECIALLY THE OFFICE!” Despite this incident, Life of Pi was awarded the “No Animals Were Harmed” credit. Read how ADI opposed the use of real tigers in the Life of Pi.
  • During filming of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, 27 animals reportedly perished, including sheep and goats that died from dehydration and exhaustion or from drowning in water-filled gullies, during a hiatus in filming at a New Zealand farm where they were being housed and trained. AHA’s management allegedly resisted investigating, then claimed that because the deaths had taken place during the hiatus, the AHA had no jurisdiction. Despite these animals’ deaths, the AHA’s credit stated it “monitored all of the significant animal action. No animals were harmed during such action.”
  • A Husky dog was reportedly punched repeatedly in its diaphragm on Disney’s 2006 Antarctic sledding movie Eight Below, yet the film still received a “No Animals Were Harmed” credit.
  • Though a chipmunk was fatally squashed in Paramount’s 2006 Matthew McConaughey-Sarah Jessica Parker romantic comedy Failure to Launch, the production still received an AHA “Monitored: Acceptable” online rating review.
  • Dozens of dead fish and squid were reported to have washed up on shore over four days during the filming of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. According to the AHA rep on set, crewmembers took no precautions to protect marine life when they set off special-effects explosions in the ocean. The article alleges that the AHA chose not to publicly speak of the incident.
  • An elderly giraffe died on the set of Zookeeper (read more about ADI’s undercover investigation of the elephant supplier used for Zookeeper)
  • A 5-foot-long shark died after being placed in a small inflatable pool during a Kmart commercial shoot in Van Nuys (read more here).

The Hollywood Reporter claims the AHA justified awarding “No Animals Were Harmed” credits to productions where animals were injured on the grounds that the animals weren’t intentionally harmed or the incidents occurred while cameras weren’t rolling.

ADI’s Responsible Animal Policy

The use of animals in movies, television and advertising comes at a high price for the animals and, commonly, the companies using them are unaware of the suffering. Through our undercover investigations in Europe and the US, ADI has been able to show the harsh reality for the animals. Our discussions with different companies means we are steadily increasing the number of major companies who have agreed to introduce a responsible animal policy – an undertaking not to use live animals in future.

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