Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Sky urged to drop movie featuring abused elephant

Posted: 2 September 2019

Animal Defenders International (ADI) is calling on Sky to drop the movie An Elephant’s Journey which features an abused elephant called Tai. As documented by ADI, the wild-caught Asian elephant has been hit, hooked and electric-shocked by her owners and trainers.

An Elephant’s Journey – titled Saving Flora in the US and starring David Arquette – was premiered by Sky over the weekend and is set to be broadcast throughout the week.

Jan Creamer, ADI President said, “Animal Defenders International exposed, eight years ago, the terrible abuse of Tai the elephant, who was torn from the wild and has been forced to perform her whole life. Her suffering largely ignored by the industry, we call on Sky not to support the violence inflicted on Tai and other performing animals.”

Shocking footage from an 8-week undercover 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.

Video of ADI’s findings can be seen here

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. 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.

The investigation resulted in condemnation from veterinary surgeons, elephant experts, zoo industry insiders, and the public.

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.

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.

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.

Media contact
Angie Greenaway 020 7630 3344 or 07785 552548

© Animal Defenders International 2019