Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

ADI urges S4C boycott over controversial elephant use in Christmas film

Posted: 20 December 2013

Leading animals in entertainment campaign organisation, Animal Defenders International (ADI), has called for viewers to switch off Welsh TV channel S4C over the festive period for its controversial use of live elephants for the film “Y Syrcas”. Two elephants were shipped to Wales from Germany for the film, which is directed by Kevin Allen and stars Aneirin Hughes and Saran Morgan. “Y Syrcas” is due to be broadcast by S4C on Boxing Day, December 26.

ADI Chief Executive, Jan Creamer, “S4C has chosen to ignore the miserable lives led by elephants used for entertainment. The company was made aware in our letter that although animals may appear well-treated on set, ADI investigations have repeatedly exposed the welfare issues faced. For elephants this will mean cruel training methods such as the use of bullhooks and electric shock devices, and extended periods of confinement and chaining. On top of this, it is likely that these elephants endured an arduous journey all the way from Germany, even though CGI or other effects could have been used instead. Animal lovers should avoid all films that continue the controversial use of live animals, and switch off S4C over the festive period in protest.”

According to a statement on S4C’s website, filming took place in Tregaron, Ceredigion (1). Two elephants, called Citta and Sandra, were reportedly shipped in from Germany for the film (2). It is likely that the elephants would have been chained and confined in transport boxes during the long journeys between Wales and Germany.

ADI wrote to S4C to express concerns over its use of elephants in the movie and request details about the animals used (3). In its letter responding to ADI’s concerns, S4C states that the elephants were filmed for eight days with rest days in between, and the “welfare of the animals was protected”. However, ADI investigations have time and again shown that discipline or abuse of animals used in entertainment tends to occur off-set during training.

ADI exposed the use of violence and electric shocks on elephants by Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT) in the US, which supplied elephants for the films Water for Elephants and Zookeeper. Both films received an American Humane Association “no animals were harmed” assurance despite the brutality to the animals that was witnessed by ADI investigators during training (4).

The use of elephants for films is causing a public outcry in Sweden, where elephants who were filmed being abused by ADI at the Great British Circus have been used for upcoming film, The Hundred-Year-Old Man (5, 6).

The controversy surrounding the use of animals in entertainment is growing as the animal welfare concerns become more widely known. Last month, The Hollywood Reporter released a comprehensive report into animals used in film, ‘Animals Were Harmed’, detailing a catalogue of animal injuries and death on American Humane Association monitored films (7). Many celebrities are denouncing the use of animals in entertainment. Supporters of ADI’s campaigns to stop the suffering of animals in entertainment include: Midsomer Murders actor John Nettles OBE, writer and poet Benjamin Zephaniah and award-winning photographer Steve Bloom (8).

In 2015, Wales is due to ban the use of wild animals in circuses, including elephants (9), following legislation led by the British Government.


1. S4C: “S4C film brings an elephant back to Tregaron”, Aug 2013
2. BBC: “Elephants shipped to Tregaron for film”, Aug 2013
3. ADI: “S4C uses elephants for Y Syrcas film”, Oct 2013
4. ADI: “ADI’s Undercover Investigation of Animal Trainers Have Trunk Will Travel”, Apr 2013
5. Yahoo! News: “Swedish Christmas comedy accused of animal rights abuse”, Dec 2013
6. Youtube: “Circus elephant suffering with the Great British Circus”, Oct 2009
7. The Hollywood Reporter “Animals were harmed”, Dec 2013
8. ADI: “Celebrity support”
9. ADI: “Welsh Assembly pledges support for wild animal circus ban” Jun 2013
10. ADI: “Animals in Entertainment”


Fleur Dawes, Animal Defenders International
Tel: 020 7630 3344 or 07785 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.

© Animal Defenders International 2019