Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Failure to protect animals on-set

Posted: 18 December 2013. Updated: 7 January 2014

An investigation by The Hollywood Reporter has uncovered instances where the American Humane Association (AHA) failed to protect animals on film and TV sets. The report comes only months after Barbara Casey, former Director of Production in the AHA’s Film & Television Unit, sued the AHA for wrongful termination, citing instances where animals were allegedly harmed on sets that received a ‘No Animals Were Harmed’ credit, claiming the AHA “often allows production companies to dictate the method and manner by which AHA operates on set in order to allow the producer maximum flexibility, often times in complete disregard for the safe and humane treatment of animals…” Allegations include:

  • In an email to a colleague, an AHA monitor confided that a Bengal tiger used in Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, “Damn near drowned” on set, adding, “I think this goes without saying but DON’T MENTION IT TO ANYONE, ESPECIALLY THE OFFICE!” Despite this, Life of Pi was awarded the ‘No Animals Were Harmed’ credit. ADI protested the use of real tigers in the film, but received no response.
  • During filming of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, 27 animals reportedly died, including sheep and goats from dehydration and exhaustion or drowning at a New Zealand farm where they were housed and trained, during a hiatus in filming. AHA’s management allegedly resisted investigating, then claimed that as the deaths took place during the hiatus, the AHA had no jurisdiction. Despite the deaths, the AHA’s credit stated it “monitored all of the significant animal action. No animals were harmed during such action.”
  • A husky dog was reportedly punched repeatedly in its diaphragm on Disney’s 2006 movie Eight Below, starring Paul Walker. The film received a ‘No Animals Were Harmed’ credit.
  • A chipmunk was squashed to death in Paramount’s 2006 Matthew McConaughey/Sarah Jessica Parker romantic comedy Failure to Launch, the production still received an AHA ‘Monitored: Acceptable’ online rating review.
  • Dozens of dead fish and squid reportedly washed up on shore over 4 days filming of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. An AHA rep on set said the crew took no precautions to protect marine life when they set off special-effects explosions in the ocean.
  • An elderly giraffe died on the set of Zookeeper. ADI protested the use of Rosie, an elephant supplied for the movie by Have Trunk Will Travel. We supplied video to AHA and requested a meeting to discuss ways to modify their protocols. We received no response.
  • A 5 foot shark died after being put in a small inflatable pool during a Kmart commercial shoot in Van Nuys. ADI protested to the advertisers and agency, receiving no response.

The Hollywood Reporter claims the AHA justified awarding ‘No Animals Were Harmed’ credits to productions where animals were injured on the grounds that the animals weren’t intentionally harmed or the incidents occurred while cameras were not rolling.

ADI previously exposed the training of Tai, the elephant used for Water for Elephants, another Have Trunk Will Travel elephant. We wrote to the movie makers, the studio, the stars, and to AHA, with copies of the investigation video. No one involved in the movie was prepared to speak out. We asked to discuss a modified protocol with AHA - all approaches were rejected.

Responsible Animal Policy

The use of animals in movies, television and advertising comes at a high price for the animals and, commonly, the companies using them are unaware of the suffering. Through our undercover investigations, ADI has been able to show the harsh reality for the animals. Our discussions with different companies means we are steadily increasing the number of major companies agreeing to introduce a responsible animal policy – an undertaking not to use live animals in future

Take Action

  • Join ADI’s campaign against live animals for movies. Join our action alerts.
  • Write to movie theaters and filmmakers when live animals are used in movies
  • Distribute our Animals In Entertainment leaflets to friends, family, colleagues and outside cinemas showing films that include live animals
  • Donate to our animals in entertainment investigations, help expose the cruelty

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