Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

ADI exposes Abbey

Posted: 2 June 2006


Call to consumers to close Abbey accounts & complain to ASA

Abbey’s latest ‘Family ISA’ TV ad has been panned by Animal Defenders International (ADI) for using both CGI (computer-generated images) and six real performing squirrels to illustrate the storyline involving squirrels hoarding nuts as a metaphor for investment.

ADI has learnt that the squirrels were originally trained and used in the film ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, for which they were trained to crack nuts. Apparently animal trainer Michael Alexander spent over four months teaching around 40 squirrels to crack hazelnuts, sort them and then bring them on to a conveyor belt for the film.

Film director Tim Burton admitted: “We used actual rodents (squirrels). From birth, we sent them to school for six months.”

Jan Creamer, chief executive of ADI, said: “This is cruel practice to take baby squirrels in this way from birth and subject them to the kind of harsh repetitive training for months on end that trainers make them endure for the sake of the script. Abbey should know better than to use live performing animals alongside CGI images of the same animals, it makes no sense. Performing animals suffer greatly in captivity without the normal social interaction with their species or being in the wild.”

According to Colin Grey at Abbey, a number of squirrels were used in the ad in addition to CGI images, with vets on site with the animals, as well as animal trainers.

Jan Creamer added: “Travelling around in trucks and being on film sets, kept waiting in cages for hours for a three-day long shoot is simply not a natural or stress-free environment for these squirrels. We urge people to close their Abbey accounts in protest and lodge a complaint with the ASA.”

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