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May 10, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

A group called Animal Defenders International (ADI) has posted video online which it claims shows members of the company that supplied the animals for Water for Elephants abusing elephants while training them. In particular, the video allegedly shows Tai — named Rosie in the film — being given electric shocks with hand-held stun guns while being trained by operators of Perris, CA-based Have Trunk Will Travel in 2005. The video would appear to refute claims by Gari and Kari Johnson, the elephant suppliers, that the animals were trained with kindness and positive reinforcement. The film also received the endorsement of the American Humane Association, which issued a statement maintaining that the elephants used in the filming had been “treated fairly and humanely throughout the entire course of their training.” However, ADI CEO Jan Creamer said in a statement, “The more we saw the repeated assertions that this elephant has been treated with love and affection and never been abused, we realized that we had to get the truth out. The public, the stars and the filmmakers have been duped.” For its part, Have Trunk Will Travel insisted that it was ADI that was doing the duping, saying in a statement released today (Tuesday) that ADI was attempting to use “Tai’s role in Water for Elephants as a vehicle to take advantage of her celebrity to further their efforts to remove elephants and all exotic animals from entertainment.” In the statement, Kari Johnson observed that the video “shows heavily edited and very short snippets, obviously taken surreptitiously six years ago, purporting mistreatment of our elephants. If there was truly any abuse going on why wait six minutes, much less six years? None of the footage being shown was taken during Tai’s training for Water for Elephants.” The video, she intimated, is a fake. “As our work in the movie proves, you can make something look like anything to suit your purposes.”

Movie star electric shocked from Animal Defenders on Vimeo