HBO’s ‘Westworld’ Used Real Abused Elephants Instead of CGI Versions

If you were watching a recent episode of HBO’s “Westworld,” your heart probably sank when you saw people riding two elephants.

But wait – this series is set in an amusement park populated by very realistic-looking robots, so those elephants had to be robots too, right?

Wrong. Unlike a computer-generated tiger in another scene, those two elephants were very real. They were rented from a Southern California company called Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT) that has a very troubling history.

During an undercover investigation of HTWT in 2013, Animal Defenders International (ADI) recorded disturbing videos of the elephants crying out in pain as they were shot with stun guns and beaten with bullhooks (poles with sharp hooks on the ends). A baby elephant was hit on the head and dragged by its trunk.

Because they’re such cruel training devices, bullhooks have since been outlawed in California as well as Rhode Island and some U.S. cities.

In response to a letter from PETA denouncing the show’s use of HTWT elephants, HBO released a statement saying all the animals on all its series are “treated with the utmost care and respect for their health, safety and well-being.”

Well, that’s debatable, considering that in 2012, HBO had to cancel its series “Luck” after three race horses were killed during its production. You’d think that after those unnecessary deaths, the network would do the right thing and stop using live animals — but that’s sadly not the case.

In its statement, HBO added that a certified animal safety representative from American Humane (AHA) was on set during the filming. “The AHA has confirmed that the animals were well-treated, and the production received the designation of ‘No Animals Were Harmed,’” it stated.

That’s not especially reassuring in light of a disturbing 2013 investigation by The Hollywood Reporter. It discovered that the AHA’s famous “No animal was harmed” statement in movie and TV show credits is pretty much meaningless.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, AHA reportedly did not acknowledge incidents on film sets where animals were harmed, downplayed many incidents and often wouldn’t properly investigate reported problems.

Maybe this explains why, according to ADI, when 51-year-old Tia, one of the elephants used in “Westworld,” cries out in the scene, it’s because she’s being shocked with a stun gun.

By using performing elephants from HTWT instead of creating them using CGI (computer-generated imagery) – which fortunately is seeming to become the norm for animals in films like “The Jungle Book” — HBO and the producers of “Westworld” are supporting animal cruelty.

HBO said in its statement that it’s “reviewing the circumstances related to archival training footage which included one of the elephants that appeared in the series.” Hopefully this review will convince the network to stop using elephants from HTWT – and better yet, to stop using any performing animals – in its productions.

Take Action

“Westworld” takes place in a fantasy world in which it makes no sense to use real animals, especially ones from a company with a history of abusing them. Please sign and share this petition telling HBO not to use live elephants and to make a donation to an elephant sanctuary that treats these intelligent animals with the respect they deserve.

And if you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You’ll find Care2’s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.

 

Photo credit: hotblack

114 comments

KimJ M
KimJ ManyIssues3 months ago

tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ ManyIssues3 months ago

tfs

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joan silaco
joan silaco4 months ago

We need a #METOO movement for ANIMAL ABUSE too!

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joan silaco
joan silaco4 months ago

TYFS

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ANA MARIJA R
ANA MARIJA R4 months ago

Petition signed & shared. Thank you.

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Marija M
Marija M5 months ago

tks

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R5 months ago

Thank you for posting.

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Danii P
Past Member 5 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Danii P
Past Member 5 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Ruth R
Ruth R5 months ago

Thank You! Signed. ...." You signed on May 15, 2018 Share with friends. Get More Signatures! 64,507 SUPPORTERS 65,000 GOAL Share this Petition"

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