This May sees the release of the film adaptation of the best-selling novel ‘Water for Elephants’, starring Robert Pattinson and Reece Witherspoon. Whilst the Born Free Foundation notes that the film touches on cruelty towards animals in circuses, we are extremely disappointed that the producers did not take the book’s core message to heart and make the compassionate decision not to use trained wild animals in the film.
Elephants forced into the circus, like Rosie (the elephant in the film), live miserable lives of extended periods of confinement, long-haul transportation, and inadequate housing in “beastwagons”, all in the name of so-called entertainment. It has been frequently documented that the training and handling of wild animals in circuses can include violence, the use of bullhooks or prolonged restraint.
There is, of course, also the issue of the individual elephant, Tai, who was used in filming “Water for Elephants” and the ongoing publicity photo shoots and live appearances. Tai is ‘owned’ by a company who rent out wild-born elephants for rides and entertainment. We believe that it is never justified or appropriate to use wild animals in entertainment, and with recent, amazing technological advances in film production (the upcoming ‘Planet of the Apes’ remake will only use CGI apes, for example), there is no longer any excuse for exploiting wild animals in this way.
We live in hope that thanks to the recent case of Anne, the elephant whose beatings at ‘Bobby Roberts Super Circus’ were documented by ADI, that people who are not aware of the suffering of circus animals will be enlightened and join the 94.5% of people in the UK who already support a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses.
Elephants don’t belong in the circus or the zoo – they belong in the wild. That’s something every Compassionate Conservationist knows!