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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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76.

GLORIA    

ELEPHANTS USED IN ANY WAY BY HUMANS ARE ABUSED ELECTRIC CATTLE PRODS R USED ON THEM BULL HOOKS ARE STABBED AT THEM JUST TO NAME A FEW.THIS IS A CRUEL INHUMANE WAY FOR TEHSE CRITTERS TO LIVE AND FOR THOSE DISBELIEVERS JUST DO YOUR HOMEWORK TO PROVE IT

1200 days ago
77.

TinaR    

This movie actually shows how wrong it is to be cruel to elephants. It was actually a love story between the elephant and Rob Pattinson's character. You hated the man who harmed the elephant.

1200 days ago
78.

eve    

i´m agains animal violence, but in fact, the movie WFE, because the all mesagge of the book, or in this case movie, is that they don´t need to use violence, like the character August used agains Rosie (Tai) that´s why i will recomend this book, or movie if you rather. is totally agaisn animal violence.
Also, elephants look a like, how do we know if is really Tai. his easy could be any other elephant, because sometimes people could lie with the reason of free the guilt from other. Wich also makes me remember, because this twilight kid is on the movie, theres a lot of paparazzi photos of the filming, and it could have been very easy to capture if the elephants was beeing treat with violence. wich made me doubt about the truth for the particular case of the movie, because i defended, before that, no. but i do recomendedthe movie, the deep message of sara gruen is beeing agains animal violence, and you totally fall in love of elephants

1200 days ago
79.

Shannon    

No they shouldn't have used elephants, but then they wouldn't have been able to make the movie. Animal abuse is rampant in the book, so it's no surprise this is story.

1200 days ago
80.

Helgard de Barros    

I have sent an e-mail to Reese Witherspoon's PR company and the film company itself suggesting the following: The film company buys the elephant, donates it to an elephant sanctuary, and uses proceeds from the movie to pay for the upkeep of the elephant. That way they are putting their money where their mouths are and helping the elephant, and you can see a movie which highlights the cruelty against circus animals knowing that your money is not made from the misery of an animal, but is helping to save an animal. I think this is a better solution, as it saves the elephant, and if the PR company knows their business, can gain a lot of publicity for organisations that save animals from circuses.

1200 days ago
81.

Everyones~A~Star    

Vile abusive bastards.

1199 days ago
82.

Wiley    

They didn't abuse the animals while making the movie. What is it that most of you can't understand about this statement? The actors and everyone involved saw no abuse. The Humane Society saw no abuse. You can't take a domesticated elephant and dump it out in the wild. The wild is fine for wild animals but not for domesticated animals. Might as well put a very large bullet between its eyes as dump it out in the wild. Now what are we going to do about the millions of cats and dogs you bleeding hearts are hoarding for your own enjoyment? Should we put them in a refuge?

1199 days ago
83.

Helgard de Barros    

Wiley, I know they didn't abuse elephants during the making of the movie, but some company who hired the elephant to the movie company is making profit off an elephant that they abused.
I spent six years in Africa working with orphaned elephants, and I agree you cannot return a domesticated animal to the wild, but there are sanctuaries all over the world for animals rescued from circuses, etc, and these are the places where abused, domesticated wild animals should be sent.
PS Both my cats are rescue cases that I saved from starvation, thank you...

1199 days ago
84.

J.E.B.    

After years of abuse, then they act surprised when an elephant "snaps" and goes on a rampage. And who gets punished? The elephant.

1199 days ago
85.

Anonymous    

Why is it when I searched under Robert Pattinson this story did not pop up? Clearly, it's tagged under Robert so what's up? And, where are they on statements, investigations etc? This will be a travesty if Gary Johnson weasles himself out of this.

1199 days ago
86.

Wiley    

@Helgard de Barros: BS!!! You are a typical animal activist hypocrite. You can own an animal but no one else should? Your cats need to be put in a sanctuary. Practice what you preach! There is no such thing as a "rescue" animal. Pet shops and animal breeders sell "rescue animals" at the mall right along with the other pets, and they get even more money for them. It has become an industry now. We've all seen the horror stories created by bleeding hearts rescuing animals. I've seen dozens of videos, movies, TV shows, etc. filmed at various sanctuaries and most conduct actual tours for the animal rights activists. How is that different than the zoo or this movie? You're just a typical animal rights activist crying wolf.

1199 days ago
87.

ynova    

I think q trabajr those people and really should not use animals to get rich because the worst is that profit from their suffering .. until reasonable beings are supposed to be ... I believe that animals have feelings and more education that human beings ... STOP MAKING AND SUBJECT TO THE HELPLESS CREATURES THAT SHARE THE WORLD WITH U.S. .. God allow it to make hard laws for these offenders in the world .. thanks

1199 days ago
88.

odette     

Water for Elephants should be banned.

1199 days ago
89.

ynova    

I think q trabajr those people and really should not use animals to get rich because the worst is that profit from their suffering .. until reasonable beings are supposed to be ... I believe that animals have feelings and more education that human beings ... STOP MAKING AND SUBJECT TO THE HELPLESS CREATURES THAT SHARE THE WORLD WITH U.S. .. God allow it to make hard laws for these offenders in the world .. thanks

1199 days ago
90.

Tammy    

NO! This is a no-brainer. Isn't it bad enough that animals are unnecessarily eaten and worn, do we have to abuse them for our entertainment as well?!? WRONG!

1199 days ago
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