Animal Rights

Animals Often Endangered, Killed During Hollywood Films

| by Michael Allen

The American Humane Association (AHA) sends "monitors" to film and TV sets when productions include the use of live animals to make sure they are not injured or placed in real danger.

However, The Hollywood Reporter reports that it recently obtained an email from AHA monitor Gina Johnson, who wrote a fellow employee about a scary situation involving the tiger, "King," in the film "Life of Pi."

The email, which is dated April 7, 2011, states “The worst thing was that last week we almost f----- killed King in the water tank. This one take with him just went really bad and he got lost trying to swim to the side. Damn near drowned.”

Johnson adds in the email, "I think this goes without saying but DON’T MENTION IT TO ANYONE, ESPECIALLY THE OFFICE! I have downplayed the f--- out of it.”

Johnson was supposed to monitor and notify the AHA if any animals were endangered, but apparently did not, and the film got a “No Animals Were Harmed” AHA credit.

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The Hollywood Reporter also claims that Johnson "was intimately involved with a high-ranking production exec on Pi."

There have been other reports of other animal abuse on blockbuster feature films.

In 2012, 27 animals used for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" died during a break in filming at an unmonitored New Zealand farm where they were being housed, noted USA Today.

Animal trainer John Smythe claims the AHA didn't want to investigate when he told them in August 2012. The AHA claimed it had no jurisdiction because the animal deaths happened during a break, but wrote on the film's credits that it had “monitored all of the significant animal action. No animals were harmed during such action.”

The Hollywood Reporter interviewed six former AHA employees who allege the AHA distorts its ratings, downplays incidents and sometimes doesn’t investigate.

More alleged incidents include: a husky dog being punched repeatedly on Disney’s "Eight Below, " a chipmunk killed in the 2006 film "Failure to Launch," dozens of dead fish and squid dying during Disney’s "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," the death of a giraffe during the 2011 movie "Zookeeper" and a shark passing away during a Kmart commercial.

Sources: The Hollywood Reporter and USA Today