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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.


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."


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When is Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon going to speak up in defense for the Tai?!? Both of them need to pay for Tai to be put in a Sanctuary for the rest of his life!! It's not like they dont have the money! How can anyone say there was no abuse against Tai?? There is PLENTY of evidence!! What more do you want??? I see horrific abuse everyday done to animals. I am a animal activist. I see pictures and videos that would make you so mad you would want to lash out against the person doing the abuse. I no longer have any respect for Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon!!! Nor will I watch or support ANYTHING that has to do with them!!!

1226 days ago


so disappointed in the Fox studio statement. That's it. Their film is making money off the backs of abused animals Tai or not? I'm surprised Rob and Reese have not made statements. What are they thinking? They liked Gary and feel bad for him? They don't believe it? If they think for one hot second that Gary does not abuse those animals on a regular basis so he can appear to be the quiet, calm, elephant whisperer they are mistaken. If Rob and Reese are going to stand by and support have trunk will travel--that's it! I'm no longer supporting either one and I hope in the future they will be introduced as actors that turned a blind eye for profit. Regardless of any agenda by ADI. It must be a tough pill to swallow, but they need to understand people lie. Don't be embarrassed DO SOMETHING!!

1226 days ago


Thanks for this showing the world this disturbing video, TMZ. I can tell from the stuff you guys at TMZ post that you are a humane group of people.

I plan on staying far away from this movie. I hope it gets the big fat boycott it deserves.

1226 days ago


These animals have no place in captivity.

1226 days ago


If they did not used the elephant in the movies, we would not be talking about it and this elephant wouldn't have made to TMZ :)

So yes, I am glad they used the elephant in the movie.

1226 days ago


Tai is a very distinct looking elephant with light patches and speckled markings. The only elephant that even resembles her was a glimpse of a standing elephant in the beginning of this video. None of the other elephants looked like her. Videos like this have been circulating for years protesting the mistreatment of elephants in circuses. This seems like nothing more than a video collage of these taken to slander the movie.

And as it has been stated in earlier posts, there are children being abused and even killed right here in our own country every day, but THIS is the best cause some people can fight for?! Sorry, this video montage seems like pure propaganda to me.

1226 days ago


The movie production company would have had no way of knowing how Tai was treated, so they certainly do not have any responsibility. The owners are the ones who should be held accountable.

1226 days ago


poor elephants. it's like a nazi concentration camp. this has to stop. the trainers should be subjected to the same cruelty. the trainers are the real animals. the elephants are more human than these heartless trainers.

1226 days ago


Rob and Reese are not supporting anything. You do not have to give them any chances, but they deserve one if they were misguided, lied too. Both should be allowed the time to say something, if anything. They may want to come out right now and say; Their upset, their pissed, but they have to be certain as there are others involved, and as to what exactly is going on here. Some are crying abuse, and others are crying fowl. We do not have any idea as to what these two are thinking or feeling at present.

Robert did this movie because of his love for animals. Both Robert and his girlfriend Kristen Stewart have saved animals from their own death through adoption. Robert took very little money for this project, this i know, because it was reported as to why he would do it for so little. As well, he has given more than his earnings to the elephant sancruary in Tenn. An interesting statement he made after filming is that he was looking forward to visiting Tai when she was in her own sanctuarty, something he obviously believed was happing.

...And what of the 70 plus other features Tai has been in over the years, what of these people that were 'innocently' involved, should you not have respect for them either??? What if one turned out to be a favorite actor if yours, who you knew could never intentionally hurt a living thing. Would you too not want to defend them. I have personally met Mr. Pattinson, and this is the main reason i became a fan. He is possibly the sweetest, most genuine, humble hollywood guy you could poosibly meet.

This accusation, if true, is awful, especially for the Elephants who have a God given right to being treated humanely. There are other victems here too though, and Reese and Rob are included...I will never forget Robert saying, "The most wonderful experience of his life was falling asleep beside Tai with her trunk wrapped around him, after a long day for both of them."-Robert Pattinson

Humane compassion never has to be limited to animals, people deserve it too. I would do a little more research myself before i was to ever say anything negative about a person/people...Even then, it is not in my nature to be unkind or think for a second i know what is going on...

Patti:If Rob and Reese are going to stand by and support have trunk will travel--that's it! I'm no longer supporting either one and I hope in the future they will be introduced as actors that
Anonymous: I no longer have any respect for Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon!!! Nor will I watch or support ANYTHING that has to do with them!!!
turned a blind eye for profit."

1226 days ago


It is obvious that those slamming Robert and Reese never were fans of theirs in the first place or they would be upset for them too. If they had ever even given them the time of day before this, they would know these two are both far too kind as individuals to ever stand by and turn a blind eye...These people are also missing the point and they have no problem 'abusing' a humans rights...

1226 days ago


I hope peole are not only going on TMZ, here in particular, for the most up to date info on this topic. It is not fair to, again, as someone said, slam these actors/filmmakers etc, and say they have not come forward with any statements when they have...Very close-minded, with the lack of any effort made on the slammers part to find out anything, making them just look stupid...

Monday, May 9, 2011
***Fox Issues Statement Regarding Animal Abuse Video...

"We apologize for the delay in response regarding this disturbing video being circulated. We were caught off guard by this and want to get to the bottom of it. This is going to take a little time, so stick with us..."

***Fox Issues Statement Regarding Animal Abuse Video...

Fox, filmmakers, Director Mr. Francis Lawrence, and Actors/Mr. Pattinson/Ms. Witherspoon/Mr. Waltz are very disturbed and saddened by the video being circulated that reportedly shows Tai being mistreated. We are all strongly opposed to violence against animals and were not aware of any mistreatment of the animals in this movie. We have learned that the video was taken in 2005, long before the movie was in production."

"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. We still need to look further into this issue. Thank you."

1226 days ago


There is no abuse whatsoever in this video... Its complete propaganda, I'm surprised that even TMZ posted this... And the last ten seconds with that tusk and saw? Is that even the same elephant or same video for that matter? Where was the abuse? How do people train animals to begin with anyway

1226 days ago


If they did not used the elephant in the movies, we would not be talking about it and this elephant wouldn't have made it to TMZ :)

So yes, I am glad they used the elephant in the movie.

1226 days ago



1225 days ago

Tenia Wheat    

I remember reading an article about Reese Witherspoon while she was working with her co star: Tai. She mentioned that spending time with the Elephant on the set was one of the most inspirational times in her life and very enjoyable. However, I don't think Reese knew about Tai's abusive training techniques. She, like everyone else on the set saw Tai get treats for her stunts. I think Reese will step forward and support the truth. We have a very uneducated human population that are desperately in need of what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to Elephants and all other animals who endure life threatening abuse just for human entertainment.

1225 days ago
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