Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

ADI and NSPCA criticise 'The Hundred-Year-Old Man' film for using an abused circus elephant

Posted: 9 October 2014. Updated: 9 October 2014

Animal Defenders International (ADI) and National Council for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) have condemned ‘The 100-year-old man who climbed out the window and disappeared’ for its use of an abused circus elephant. The film is directed by Felix Herngren and is released across South Africa on October 17th.

The elephant used in ‘The Hundred-Year-Old Man’ Vana Mana (also known as Wana Mana) previously featured in a shocking undercover exposé by ADI at the Great British Circus in the UK. Vana Mana and her companions Sonja and Delhi were beaten by both her trainer and groom and chained for long periods.

ADI’s horrifying footage prompted an outcry and the elephants and their trainer left the UK after just one season. Delhi, who was chronically lame, has since died. Vana Mana and Sonja remain with their abusive trainer, Lars Hölscher, touring with circuses across Europe. Their trainer now uses different names for himself and the elephants.

In Sweden last year, Vana Mana and Sonja – now known as Ghandi and Baby – were forced to perform by their trainer at Cirkus Skott. After their identity was discovered, Cirkus Scott announced that it would stop using wild animals.

Despite legislative measures being taken by 27 countries around the world to prohibit such acts, the use of wild animals in circuses is still permitted nationwide in South Africa.

ADI President, Jan Creamer, “The Hundred-Year-Old Man bills itself as a comedy, but there is nothing funny about the shocking abuse of the poor elephant who features in it. Experts agree that the use of wild animals in the entertainment industry causes suffering. Anyone who cares for animals should avoid ‘The Hundred-Year-Old Man’ and other films that use live, performing animals instead of CGI.”

NSPCA Wildlife Protection Unit Manager, Sr. Ainsley Hay said, “Elephants are incredible animals that are abused horrifically throughout the world for use to entertain people. Compassionate members of public can show that they care for elephants by refusing to watch this movie, boycotting circuses that use wild animal acts and by refusing to ride elephants.”

Captive elephant abuse in South Africa has been highlighted by two recent cases that led the NSPCA to lay animal cruelty charges against the Brian Boswell Circus and the owners of the Knysna Elephant Park.

Footage filmed by a member of public showing two circus elephants being beaten and chained led the NSPCA to bring criminal charges against the owners and handlers of the Brian Boswell circus. The case is still being investigated by the South African Police Services and a trial date is yet to be set.

Earlier this year, the NSPCA received footage showing horrific cruelty used to ‘break’ wild-caught elephants to be used in elephant-back safaris. The elephants are seen being beaten, stretched with ropes, chained and abused with electric prods and bull hooks. The footage was filmed in 2008 at Elephants of Eden, a sister company to the Knysna Elephant Park. The NSPCA has laid animal cruelty charges against the park owners and are awaiting a trial date.

The film industry itself is increasingly turning the spotlight on the use of animals in entertainment – Seaworld is facing severe criticism for keeping captive orca following the release of Blackfish, and ADI’s inspiring rescue of 25 lions from illegal Bolivian circuses is charted in uplifting action-documentary Lion Ark.

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ADI undercover footage of Vana Mana and other elephants abused at the Great British Circus

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)

SvD report on elephants abused at the Great British Circus performing at Cirkus Skott

NSPCA information on Elephants of Eden case

Checkpoint Insert on Footage of Elephants of Eden Case

NSPCA information on Brian Boswell Circus case

Footage of elephants beaten at Brian Boswell Circus

Lion Ark

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.

The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) was founded in 1955 as the Federation of SPCAs to provide a forum to bring uniformity to welfare legislation and standards. The 90+ member SPCAs in South Africa are governed by the SPCA Act 169 of 1993 which is administered by the NSPCA, constituting us as a statutory body. Inspectors are authorised in terms of the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962 and the Performing Animals Protection Act No. 24 of 1935 with the SPCA movement collectively undertaking over 90% of all animal welfare investigations and prosecutions in South Africa.

Apart from dealing with legislation and specialist matters, the NSPCA also operates in areas where there is no existing SPCA, or where support is required, or has been specifically requested, or in response to disasters (i.e. emergencies, floods, fires).

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