Animal cruelty: rights group calls for boycott of new elephant movie

2011-05-12 00:00

ANIMAL rights groups around the world have called on movie goers to boycott the movie Water for Elephants after footage was released of the alleged maltreatment of the movie’s star elephant.

The movie, starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson, is about Rosie the Asian elephant, who is ill-treated by a circus boss.

American company, Have Trunk Will Travel Inc., which rents and trains elephants for weddings, movies and advertisements, trained the 42-year-old elephant Tai (Rosie in the movie).

Producers of George of the Jungle (1997) and Evan Almighty (2007) have also used the company’s elephants.

Video footage on the website of British animal rights group Animal Defenders International that was taken in 2005, allegedly shows how elephants are maltreated during training.

According to a statement from Have Trunk Will Travel Inc. founders, Gary and Kari Johnson, the allegations of abuse and so-called video footage are false and malicious.

“Extremist groups are using Tai’s role in Water for Elephants as a means to remove elephants and other exotic animals from the entertainment industry,” they said.

“These groups have no knowledge or experience in working with elephants.

“They have an agenda and are notorious for employing dishonest tactics to realise their objectives. Be assured that we [Have Trunk Will Travel Inc.] will continue to care for our elephants with the love they deserve.”

Police have been investigating the allegations since the release of the footage.

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