Elephants Tortured During Making Of “Water For Elephants”? (VIDEO)

Tai the elephant stars along with Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson in the movie “Water for Elephants,” released last month.

Elephants Electric Shocked And Beaten

But secret video footage released by Animal Defenders International (ADI) on May 9 shows Tai the elephant being electric shocked and beaten during training to make her perform tricks that she later went on to perform in the film.

We Are Talking About Real Suffering

Business Wire reports:

Filmed at animal supplier Have Trunk Will Travel in California who provided Tai, the video expose demolishes claims about the long term training of this elephant and others.

Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International: “The film is fiction but we are talking about real suffering. It is time for the movie industry to take a long, hard look at how animals are used in the name of entertainment.”


the biggest star of the film is 42-year-old Asian elephant Tai, who plays Rosie, supplied by Have Trunk Will Travel.

In the film Rosie, played by Tai, is brutally attacked by the circus owner who beats her with a bull hook. But the producers, stars, and trainers have been at pains to stress that Tai was trained with kindness, marshmallows, and positive reinforcement.

Gary Johnson, a founder of Have Trunk Will Travel, claimed: “Tai was never hit in any way at all.”

American Humane observed the animal action during filming and said: “We’re here observing prep on Water for Elephants and so we’re here to make sure that everybody knows that not only the action on set but also the prep is humanely done, all these animals have been treated fairly and humanely throughout the entire course of their training.”

Neither Calls Nor E-Mails Returned

The Daily Mail reveals that the film of the abuse is believed to have been taken in 2005 at the Have Trunk Will Travel complex, which would explain the comments by the American Humane Society.

But when MailOnline tried to contact Gary and Kari Johnson, the owners of Have Trunk Will Travel, neither calls nor e-mails were returned.  20th Century Fox, who make the film, similarly did not reply to a request for comment.

Whenever I see movies with animals, I find myself wondering about the training methods. Was there really no cruelty involved?

Human Actors Get Millions; Elephants Get Electrocuted

And let’s see – the human actors get paid millions of dollars, while the elephants get electrocuted?

TAKE ACTION: Please click here to sign our petition to Have Trunk Will Travel to demand that they outlaw animal abuse in future.

And check out the video from Animal Defenders International and see what you think:

Photo credit: DrBartje via Creative Commons


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson3 years ago

can't kindness be better?

Duane B.
.3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Diane L.
Diane L.3 years ago

Julie C., keep in mind that the "video evidence" you refer to is very old, sometimes taken a decade or longer ago. I am not saying that what is shown is acceptable......it's NOT, but the videos are often also edited and/or staged and that has absolutely been proven to be the case many times IN COURT. There was a court case involving Ringling Bros that was not only eventually thrown OUT, but the court found the accuser to be in CONTEMPT OF COURT and they were fined a huge amount of money for filing FALSE accusations, along with the former Ringling Bros employee who was PAID to lie on the stand about his own abusive handling of elephants. If you doubt what I'm saying, feel free to "Google" it for yourself. It's all documented and on a dozen websites from many sources..........this was recent, within the last couple of months.........NOT 10 years ago, BTW.

Julie Cordner
Julie Cordner3 years ago

I've seen other undercover reports about this company and other so-called 'entertainment' businesses using elephants (including Ringling Bros and other US circuses)... All protest loudly that they are humane and kind, but video footage always shows another side. It is time for humankind to CHOOSE not to allow these beautiful creatures to be humiliated and forced into unnatural poses (standing on their heads...please...does an elephant EVER do this in their natural environment?) for the supposed sake of our entertainment...

Robby Reyes
Past Member 3 years ago


Glenville J O.
Glenville J Owen3 years ago

The more kindness we give to animals the more pleasure we will receive as a result, also this kindness we give will be reflected in the animals more gentler behavior towards us.

Past Member
Heather T.3 years ago

This is truly horrific.The beastly owners should be prosecuted and never allowed to work with animals again I would like to give them a shot of the same treatment. Some humans are so cruel
to animals. it makes me sick to my heart.I am not surprised as many years ago I worked as a trained nurse on a film and saw cruelty to 2 camels.I nearly lost my job by interfering and reporting the incident but at least they did not get any more cruelty.

Alexandra Pappano
Alexandra D. P.3 years ago

Heart-breaking. Cruelty, most definitely, is NOT entertainment! Human actors can agree to taking pain in playing a role. Animals can't. Until we figure out a way to ensure that they can give "Informed Consent" (by learning animals' languages?), all movies with animals in them
should be boycotted.

Helga Balague
Helga Balague3 years ago

i can figure out the treatment they receive... :O

Kathy M.
Kathy M.3 years ago

this is horrid that this beautiful animal was abused in this way to make a movie SHAME ON ALL THAT WERE IN THIS MOVIE AND MADE THIS MOVIE. We need to speak for the ones who can not. Stop the abuse of all animals in movies. Than when the animal can't take it any more and attacks the handler can't figure out what happened. Humans are sick .