Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Urge Sky & Amazon to drop movie featuring abused elephant Tai

Posted: 3 September 2019. Updated: 4 September 2019


The movie An Elephant’s Journey, titled Saving Flora in the US and starring David Arquette, features an abused elephant called Tai. Premiered by Sky over the weekend (31 August), it is set to be broadcast in the UK throughout the week. The movie is also now available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime in the US.

As documented by ADI, the wild-caught Asian elephant has been hit, hooked and electric-shocked by her owners and trainers.

Please take action today

  • Join Animal Defenders International (ADI) in urging Sky not to support the violence inflicted on Tai and to drop the movie. Email or send a message through Facebook @Sky or Twitter @SkyUK.
  • Contact Amazon, urging them to drop the movie as well. You can send a message through their web-form here or send a message through Facebook @amazonstudios or Twitter @amazonstudios.
  • Support our work to expose the suffering of animals in entertainment and end their use.

Abuse of Tai during training

Shocking footage from an investigation by ADI, released when the movie Water for Elephants featuring Tai came out, shows Tai and other elephants at the former location of Have Trunk Will Travel in California – now rebranded as The Preserve and based in Texas – being beaten with bull hooks and electric shocked with stun guns by the owners and trainers.

The producers and stars of Water for Elephants, as well as Have Trunk Will Travel, asserted that Tai was trained with kindness, marshmallows, and positive reinforcement.

As the ADI footage shows, this could not be further from the truth.

Forced to perform the tricks seen in the movies, TV shows, commercials, and events they are hired for, the company’s elephants were chained by their legs 12 hours a day, barely able to take one step back and forward.

Evidence of suffering ignored by the filmmakers

During filming of An Elephant’s Journey / Saving Flora in the US, ADI reached out to producers FJ Productions, providing them with evidence of Tai’s abuse and urging them to use CGI technology instead.

The organisation also contacted American Humane, who award films with the ‘No animals were harmed’ certification, urging them to re-evaluate how they assess the use of animals in films and the statements they make endorsing the use of performing animals.

New name, same suffering

At their new location in Texas, Have Trunk Will Travel / The Preserve offer interactions with their five long-suffering elephants, Tai, Dixie, Kitty, Rosie and Becky, who were all captured from the wild during the 1960s and 1980s. Billed as “intimate, meaningful experiences,” interactions with the animals include bathing them and filing their nails, taking selfies, and watching as the elephants are made to paint pictures on canvas. Through a separate website, the company also hires out the elephants for rides at weddings.

Impact on elephants in the wild

Research shows that presenting wild animals as objects of fun, and within a human environment, can negatively distort people’s perception of their conservation status, undermining efforts to protect them. The Asian elephant is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, with wild populations continuing to decline.

© Animal Defenders International 2019