Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

ADI slates Saab for using threatened wild animals in TV ads

Posted: 15 June 2006

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The last two Saab convertible TV ads have used wild animals to promote the car manufacturer’s 93 and 95 models. Agency Lowe Brindfors requested a European lynx for use in the 95 ad, although the species is known to be threatened by a number of factors - human persecution, deforestation, loss of prey species, expansion of agriculture and increased populations. There are only 7,000 animals left in Europe.

Jan Creamer, chief executive of ADI, commented: “The lynx, Europe’s largest cat species, has only recently started to recover from severe population decline in the wild.[1] They are nocturnal animals and are most active at dawn or dusk, so it is not natural for expected to perform during the day.[2] Nor does learning to perform come easily to them, as they are a particularly shy species and completely unsuitable for a lifestyle involving a lot of human interaction.[3] Simon, the lynx used by Saab, is a male and in the wild would live alone on a home range up to 760km. This habitat could never be replicated in captivity, where the cats would be unable to express their natural hunting behaviour.”

In the ad, the Saab 95 is driven through a forest at night when its headlights catch the eyes of a lynx in the middle of a road. The cat quickly disappears back into the forest. ADI has learnt that Simon the lynx spent three days in total on the set, yet in the wild his kind would live in forested mountainous areas away from human populations.

The second Saab ad, from agency Lowe and Partners, features a wild bear called Koda. As a 93 convertible is being driven through frozen countryside, Koda suddenly appears out of hibernation, stands up and then retreats to his cave when he sees the icy landscape.

Jan Creamer added: “Koda apparently spent two days filming the second Saab ad, after travelling to the shoot in what was described as an “inappropriate” container by Saab’s global advertising manager, Kristian Jorgensen. In Canada, where Koda lives, brown bears have disappeared from 60% of their original range. They are very large animals and need a lot of mental stimulation and space - this lifestyle can not be reproduced accurately in captivity and certainly not in ‘mobile containers’.”

Brown bears live in dense forest areas and river valleys where they have large home ranges and natural hibernation pattern.[4] They suffer from severe stereotypic behaviour in captivity, and can also be very dangerous to humans because of their great size and strength and there are a number of incidents where brown bears have maimed or killed people. [5]

Koda the bear was owned by Mark Dumas of Creative Media Talent, from Maple Ridge BC.

Bill Donovan from the Canadian production company who sourced the animals reported on the animal trainer Mark Dumas, “Mark insists on only the best care for his animals. Only Mark works directly with the animals while on set. While working in the Manning Park area in Canada where the filming took place, approximately two hours from Vancouver, Mark brought the animals out in their mobile containers which they also lived in for the night before the filming. The animals were brought out the day before to familiarize them with the surroundings. While in Manning Park, Mark stayed with the animals at all times”.

ADI’s campaign to end the suffering of animals in entertainment – from live shows like circuses to films and TV ads – highlights the inappropriate use of wild animals as performers, as they suffer greatly in captivity, off the set and out of view often. Devoid of their natural habitat and their own kind, they can be subjected to the severest of training regimes.

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[1] The Ecologist, Vol 32, No.5, June 2002, p11
[2] Macdonald, D. (2001) The New Encyclopaedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press;
[3] BBC Wildlife Magazine, April 2006
[4] Macdonald, D. (2001) The New Encyclopaedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press
[5] BBC ‘Science and Nature’ website

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