Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Disney film ‘The Hundred Year Old Man’ condemned for use of abused circus elephant

Posted: 11 December 2013

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has condemned The Walt Disney Company Nordic for its use of an abused circus elephant in upcoming movie ‘The 100-year-old man who climbed out the window and disappeared’. The film, directed by Felix Herngren and due for release in Sweden, Denmark and Finland on 25 December, is co-produced by Buena Vista International Sweden, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company Nordic.

The release of the film known as ‘The Hundred-Year-Old Man’ follows a shocking undercover exposé by ADI which revealed Vana Mana (also known as Wana Mana), the elephant used in the film by Disney, being chained for long periods and beaten by both her trainer and groom at the Great British Circus in the UK (1). ADI’s horrifying footage prompted an outcry across Sweden, where Cirkus Skott was forcing Vana Mana and Sonja – now known as Ghandi and Baby – to perform (2). Since the scandal, Cirkus Scott has announced that it will stop using wild animals (3). Delhi, a chronically lame elephant featured in ADI’s exposé, has since died, but Vana Mana and Sonja remain with their abusive trainer, Lars Hölscher.

ADI Chief Executive, Jan Creamer, “The Hundred-Year-Old Man bills itself as a Christmas comedy, yet there is nothing funny about the shocking abuse that this poor elephant has been put through to perform on film. Anyone who loves animals should avoid ‘The Hundred-Year-Old Man’ and other films with performing animals, especially wild animals like elephants. The suffering of these intelligent and emotionally complex animals 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 other forms of entertainment is extremely controversial and studios must move towards CGI and other ways to avoid animals being harmed behind-the-scenes whilst training takes place.”

The abuse of animals for the entertainment industry is becoming more widely known by the public. The Hollywood Reporter recently released a comprehensive report into animals used in film, ‘Animals Were Harmed’, detailing a catalogue of animal suffering and death on American Humane Association monitored films (4). The film industry itself has turned the spotlight on the use of animals in entertainment – Seaworld is facing severe criticism for keeping captive orca following the release of Blackfish, and Lion Ark follows the inspiring rescue of 25 lions as circus animals are banned in Bolivia (5).


1. ADI undercover footage of Vana Mana and other elephants abused at the Great British Circus
2. SvD report on elephants abused at the Great British Circus performing at Cirkus Skott
3. ADI Stop Circus Suffering campaign, Sweden
4. The Hollywood Reporter “Animals were harmed”
5. Lion Ark the movie

- ADI report on the investigation of the use of elephants at the Great British Circus in 2009
- Expressen report on filming with Vana Mana (referred to as Ghandi in the article)
- Former Great British Circus elephants escape trainer in Copenhagen, 2012


Fleur Dawes, Animal Defenders International
Tel: +44 (0)20 7630 3344 or +44 (0)7785 552548

Animal Defenders International
With offices in London, Los Angeles and Bogota, ADI campaigns across the globe on animals in entertainment, providing technical advice to governments, securing progressive animal protection legislation, drafting regulations and rescuing animals in distress. ADI has a worldwide reputation for providing video and photographic evidence exposing the behind-the-scenes suffering in industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. ADI rescues animals all over the world, educates the public on animals and environmental issues.

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