I am very sorry, sad and outraged to report to you that the film is going forward using an abused performing elephant, Tai, from Have Trunk Will Travel, to tell the very moving story of the exploitation of people and animals in a circus. I ask you to please join me in boycotting both the film and the book to dissent their selfish, cruel decision to use a living elephant for the film and use your voice to protest this decision, to educate the ignorant and to help these poor elephants from further abuse. If you’re on Facebook, please join my group- Boycott the movie- Water for Elephants. Use your voice for them. Thank you!
Just a quick update on this issue. I have enlisted a few elephant experts and we have written a letter to the movie’s producers to appeal to their compassionate, sensible and now educated sides and make sure no wild animals are used in this film. I will keep you apprised.
I recently learned that one of my favorite books, Water for Elephants, is being made into a movie. You’d think I’d be delighted but I am far from that. I really wanted the book to be made into a movie but not now. They intend to use real wild animals, primarily elephants, for the movie and I will not go see it if they go forward with this. I am furious, disappointed, and in utter disbelief! To those of you who haven’t read this moving novel, it is a story of a young man whose parents are killed and, instead of finishing veterinary school, he runs away to the circus. But the story is really about the exploitation & abuse of the people and animals in the circus. So now the studio is going to further abuse elephants for the purpose of conveying the message that abusing sentient beings is wrong. I am so bewildered by the hypocrisy here that I’d laugh if it didn’t involve living beings. The same food & water deprivation, the fear and beatings with the bullhooks and the completely unnatural life will be present here as it is at every circus. I thought that we might have had a friend in Sean Penn who was in consideration for the movie but now I learn that he’s out (hopefully over this issue) so we can’t use his help. Christopher Waltz is now in, along with Reese Witherspoon. I also heard that Reese will be studying at the circus and wonder how she will be effected by that. Perhaps she will see the truth but, of course, it will be too late to change the course of abuse here. I’d expect Reese to already know what goes on behind and in front of the curtain so that’s a bit disappointing too.
I am deeply disappointed with everyone from the producers to the actors to the writers and crew. But I guess I have to put most of my outrage on the author, Sara Gruen, for- “selling out”. It is becoming obvious to me that this was just a brilliant story for her and has nothing to do with real life, except her own which will benefit from this endeavor. The author misled me to believe that she actually cared about these animals, especially with her telling true horror circus stories at the end of the book to show where she got some of her ideas. But now, Ms. Gruen is becoming the antagonist, just like the crass, cruel circus owner in the book. Those of us who care about animals and are concerned for performing animals know that the suffering and torment will be as real for these movie elephants as they are for the circus ones. This film will be perpetuating and promoting circuses and the use of wild animals for people’s entertainment by using wild animals for their entertainment. There is absolutely no reason to do this. Night at the Museum used computerized digital animals and that movie was a blockbuster and financial winner. I personally didn’t go to that movie either because of their use of the capuchin monkey. Primates, like big cats and elephants, are severely and repeatedly beaten in order to perform. I will not be a part of that- even at the box office. There are countries which have already totally banned circuses with wild animals. The glamorous movie business has no more right to use these animals than the gritty circuses. Cruelty should never be entertaining, in my opinion. That’s why I produced the following video- “They Don’t Want to Be in Show Business” with the talented JoAnne Worley singing an original song to educate people to the reality behind the circus curtains. So I will try to find a way to stop this imminent abuse and I ask each of you to care, to be a dissenting voice with me and to stop being accomplices to this kind of cruelty by refusing to go to them. If they go forward with this, please boycott the movie!
My most recent educational video project is about zoos. I wanted to do a parody on Paul Simon’s song- “At the Zoo” and show a different take on zoos; one that is not uncommon. Bill Dyer again wrote brilliant lyrics, Venice band members, Mark Lennon sang the song and his brother Michael Lennon arranged the music and they were able to make it sound incredibly like the original. Sandra Mohr, Mark Lennon, who hadn’t been to a zoo in some 40 years, and I visited the zoo just 2 weeks ago and this is our end result. Just as I’m releasing this video, a Charities Minister in the United Kingdom called for a ban on zoos so I have used this news report as the prelude to the video. Please pass on to others to educate. In my opinion, we should be phasing out of zoos and working towards sanctuaries for animals who need to be rescued and cared for. There will always be plenty of them.
Labour minister’s extraordinary call: We must ban zoosBy Daniel Martin
A Labour minister has called for zoos to be banned, describing them as cruel ‘relics of the Victorian era’.
Charities minister Angela Smith said it was wrong to keep animals in captivity and called for a debate on whether the Government should close all Britain’s 400 zoos.
But last night colleagues slapped her down, saying her views were personal and not those of the Government.
Cruel? Keeper Tim Savage with’ Ricky the Rock Hopper’ during the London Zoo annual stock take. A Labour minister has called for zoos to be banned in Britain
Ms Smith is patron of the Captive Animals’ Protection Society campaign group, and earlier this year she boycotted an event because it was being held at London Zoo.
She said some zoos ‘tried very hard’ to treat their animals well, it was in general wrong to lock animals up when their natural instinct is to roam free in the wild.
‘It’s inappropriate to keep wild animals in captivity this way,’ she said.
‘You can understand the Victorians who were amazed by what they saw when these specimens were brought back, because they couldn’t travel – but now they can travel and they can see animals in amazing films and television documentaries.
‘You can’t shut down every zoo tomorrow, but you’ve got to set a point in the future where we don’t bring in any more animals, then set another point saying this is the last zoo.’
She said she had received letters from children upset at the conditions they have seen animals kept in.
‘It’s partly emotional for me,’ she said. ‘In my mind I can still see a polar bear with its head swinging from side to side in a concrete enclosure. It’s time we moved on.
‘I’d like to get a group of people sitting down and discuss how we can end zoos, but we’ve got to be practical about it – there are lots of animals in zoos at the moment. No one’s saying they should all be destroyed.
‘We’ve made a lot of progress recently. If you think back to some of the tatty pets’ corners we used to have and the little zoo we used to have in Basildon, we’ve moved on. No one nowadays finds those acceptable.’
The Captive Animals’ Protection Society believes zoos are part of the entertainment industry and questions the value of the conservation work they claim to do. Zoos very rarely release animals back into the wild, they say, and keep animals – such as giraffes – that are not endangered.
They say it is wrong to teach children it is acceptable to keep animals in captivity.
But zoos hit back at Ms Smith’s comments.
David Field, director of London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo, said: ‘To say stop bringing wild animals into zoos just shows Angela Smith’s incredible naivety about why zoos exist.
‘Yes, we have species like giraffes that aren’t necessarily endangered, but when people come to see the giraffe they learn about all the incredibly endangered species in the next enclosure.
‘It has to be a balance. We would never be able to get enough people into the zoo to be able to fund all this [conservation and scientific] work if all we were able to show was the less exciting animals.
‘A zoo has an incredible power to connect you directly with nature. It’s unpredictable and different. The animals will react differently all the time. It may just be that an animal stands right next to a child – and that’s a life-changing moment.
‘If I got the chance to see the FA Cup Final live at Wembley or on TV, I’d watch it live. In the same way I’d prefer to see the animals live at the zoo.’
Ms Smith’s comments caused anger in Government, with animal welfare minister Jim Fitzpatrick accusing her of straying beyond her remit. He said: ‘Angela doesn’t have responsibility for this area. We’re not going anywhere near zoos.’
Tonight a spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: ‘We have no plans to ban zoos. Animal welfare is of the highest importance and ministers have recently announced that they are minded to ban animals in circuses.’
- I AM AN ELEPHANT by Stu Bykofsky
- Do Elephants Really Paint?! by Windy Borman of The Eyes of Thailand
- Congress considers law that would ban use of elephants in circuses
- Zoo elephants ‘treated as badly as intensively farmed chickens’
- My Speech to Ban Bullhooks to LA City Council Committee- 9/12