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'Water for Elephants' Star

Claims of Abuse

5/9/2011 12:20 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

The elephant featured in the Reese Witherspoon/Robert Pattinson movie "Water for Elephants" was abused years before filming the movie -- this according to an animal rights group that claims it has video to prove it.

0509_elephant_video

Animal Defenders International
claims the video shows Tai, the elephant in the movie ... and several other elephants ... being trained with electric shock devices and bull hooks back in 2005.

ADI claims the trainers in the video are actually Tai's current owners -- a company called Have Trunk Will Travel.

The American Humane Association was on set during filming of "Water for Elephants" and says "no animals were harmed" ... and filmmakers used computer generated images for the scenes depicting animal abuse.

As for the 2005 video ... the American Humane Association says they are aware of it and will comment shortly.

Calls to Have Trunk Will Travel were not returned. 

UPDATE: A rep for AHA tells us, "We were not present when this video was shot in 2005. We are not clear about all of the content of this video."

The rep adds, "We hope with all our heart that the disturbing images on it are not what they appear to be.  We know Tai, have worked with Tai, care about Tai and we have never witnessed any mistreatment of Tai."

119 COMMENTS

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16.

jack e. jett    

Any sane person involved with this ignorant flick should know that animal abuse happened ....just by the fact that elephants DO NOT belong in movies. They are not actors, they are wild animals and should be allowed to be such.

Why doesn't someone stick that fu*ker Pattison in the wilds of Africa for a few months.

1173 days ago
17.

Bodie    

To be so abused during their training that they "obey" enough to fool The American Humane Association during filming. Wow the video says it all. There is a special Hot section of Hell waiting for those abusers!

1173 days ago
18.

.:Loki4Ever:.    

I can't / wont watch... too sad

1173 days ago
19.

Donna    

This is exactly why I don't understand why ANYBODY would go see a circus. They are still using wild animals in their shows and abusing them to get them to do what they want! Why isn't this outlawed in the United States????? Who is looking into all this animal abuse still going on??? Frankly I was stunned that Reese would do this movie because of circuses like Barnum & Baily still using animals in their shows and abusing them also.
Anyone who really cares about animals would not go to a circus or patronize them in any way. Elephants shouldn't have to stand on their hind legs and do gricks to impress humans. They should be free to run wild and raise their families in their normal habitat. Shame on this country for allowing this to happen. Shame on anyone who eats veal too. Baby calfs are strung up by their hind feet and skinned alive for veal. If you ever saw this - you'd never eat meat again.

1173 days ago
20.

besenagyúr    

I think there are so many poeple with so many time to claim about nothing. If they want to claim really, than claim for human rights in war districts, not on an animal training. Were they ever in a Zoo? Had they ever any housecat or dog? Just try and teach them without pain. Even you need your child to teach with pain, if it need.

1173 days ago
21.

twilighter13    

HOW SAD! OMG!! I COULDN'T BELIEVE WHAT I SAW. THOSE TRAINERS SHOULD BE WHIPPED. I BELIEVE ROBERT AND REESE HAD NO CLUE OF THIS.

1173 days ago
22.

firebaby    

okay, i seriously don't think elephants were made to handstand, much less on upside down barrels...

and the article says Animal Defenders International... why is everybody cussing PETA?

1173 days ago
23.

cece    

It's about time someone sheds a BIG spotlight on elephant abuse for "entertainment", aka "dollars"...

There is undercover video footage of Ringling bros Barnum and Bailey torturing elephants... and they ship them around the country in hot boxcars for circuses... go see a train unloaded for a circus... it is a horror.

They should be banned from all "entertainment" and retired to elephant sanctuaries.

1173 days ago
24.

sherri    

From FOX:

None of the animals in the movie were taught any new “tricks” for the film. A representative from the American Humane Association was on set and monitored every instance in which animals were used and can confirm that no animals, including Tai, were mistreated in any way during filming. However please know that associated with the movie or not, we are not okay with any form of animal abuse.

Folks - you don't even know if that's the same elephant. The animals were NOT harmed while on set of this film. It is a beautiful film which DENOUNCES animal violence!!!

1173 days ago
25.

Woot    

Anyone caught abusing an animal? KILL THE SOBS!!!!!

1173 days ago
26.

cass    

An animal is an animal... even most domesticated animals can be dangerous without warning. If you had a huge bull charging at you would you stand there and say "Nice bull" while it stomps you with 1200 pounds or pick up a club and hit it? As long as people continue to pay to see wild animals as entertainment trainers are going to seek ways to control the animals so people don't get injured. If you have ever been on a farm and had a goose pinch you, a hen peck you, a horse kick you, a cow stomp you, watched a pig attack a smaller animal and eat it etc you would understand why cattle prods etc are used. I am not interested in PETA pushing their vegetarian agenda on me.

1173 days ago
27.

If sense were common everyone would have it.    

MOTHER****ERS, EVERY ONE OF THEM. If charges are not brought against this "company", then everyone involved with the movie is culpable if they don't do anything about it.

Every time I see a trainer being mauled by an elephant, I feel nothing but satisfation because I know they would not have been attacked if the elephant wasn't being abused by them. I've never been to a circus featuring animal perfomances, nor will I ever. It's not about being politically correct. I couldn't care less about that. It's just the right thing to do.

I hope every one of those "trainers" meets a painful, horrible death.

1173 days ago
28.

Anonymous    

Since Animal Defenders International sent video to Fox and the actors which include Reese and Rob I'll be very interested in their statements if anything on Tai's abuse. So much was made about how Tai was more like an actor than animal, and how owner/trainer Gary Johnson was so gentle with her. Now, we clearly see how abused she was privately in order to perform publicly. How Rob and Reese handle this information will determine if I ever see any of their movies. Also the Humane Society was purported to have given their seal of approval. Have Trunk Will Travel needs to shut down and the animals need relocating to an elephant sanctuary. Period.

1173 days ago
29.

Nicole    

That's sickening. The trainers need to be shocked then screwed up the ass with a bull hook.

1173 days ago
30.

HarryPalms    

Who's writing your questions?
Are you outsourcing to Pakistan or India?
The question reads as follows: "Should they have used elephant in movie"
WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?

1172 days ago
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