There’s nothing glamorous about showbiz for elephants, primates, big cats, and other animals who are forced to perform in television, movies, or advertisements. In order for animals to “get used to” handling and to get them ready to “act”, they’re often taken away from their mothers as infants . These traumatic separations can leave both mothers and babies with lifelong emotional scars.
Elephants and other wild animals perform under the constant threat of punishment. Time is money in the film, television, and advertising industries, so there’s a great deal of pressure on trainers to ensure that animals perform correctly in the fewest takes possible. These financial constraints can and do lead handlers to use severe disciplinary methods and excessive force during training sessions in order to ensure that animals act on cue when they’re on set. Trainers may also withhold food.
When not working, these animals spend most of their lives chained or in cramped, filthy cages, deprived of everything that’s natural and important to them, often including the companionship of others of their own species as well as a spacious, enriching environment.
With all the innovative technology available today, there’s absolutely no reason to bully animals into “acting” in films, advertisements, and television. Advanced visual effects and computer-generated imagery can create digital animals that deliver dramatic performances and result in box-office hits.
What You Can Do
Highly intelligent, sensitive animals deserve better than to be treated as if they were props for our amusement. If you see a film, a television show, or an advertisement that exploits wild animals, contact the producers and tell them why you object.