An animal welfare group has called on the makers of Sky Atlantic/HBO drama Westworld to stop filming with wild animals after two live elephants featured in the latest episode.
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Animal Defenders International (ADI) claim to have procured “brutal” footage from Have Trunk Will Travel, the company that supplies the animals to the series, showing elephants – including Westworld’s 51-year-old Tai, an on-screen veteran who has appeared in Water for Elephants and Zookeeper – being beaten and shocked with stun guns behind-the-scenes.
“With no way to guarantee the welfare of the animals off set, we urge HBO and other studios to end their use of live animals,” ADI President Jan Creamer said. “There is no excuse for using the real thing when technology provides a realistic, humane alternative.”
HBO have said that they are “reviewing the circumstances related to archival training footage which included one of the elephants that appeared in the series,” but hastened to clarify that “none of this video was shot during the production and does not in any way reflect practices on our sets.”
The network faced scrutiny from PETA in the USA earlier this week for the same issue, and issued the following statement in response:
“All of the animals featured on HBO series are treated with the utmost care and respect for their health, safety and well-being. A certified animal safety representative from American Humane was present at all times during any animal action on the set of Westworld. The AHA has confirmed that the animals were well-treated, and the production received the designation of ‘No Animals Were Harmed.’ We are reviewing the circumstances related to archival training footage which included one of the elephants that appeared in the series. Of course, none of this video was shot during the production and does not in any way reflect practices on our sets.”