When we see animals being put to work on our favorite television shows, we would like to assume that they are happy with the jobs that they are given. The HBO show Westworld features such animals and a recent video that has leaked to the public has landed the runners of this program in hot water with animal rights groups. In a recent episode, elephants were used to carry two of the show’s characters away to a base camp.
What viewers did not know was that the elephants had been through a great ordeal before the scene was actually filmed. The elephants had to be subjected to a difficult training program before they were able to handle the rigors of this scene. Animal welfare activists are displeased by this news and believe that the animals were likely mistreated during the filming process.
Have Trunk Will Travel is the company that owns the elephants and they are responsible for renting them out to various television and movie productions. The elephants that this company provides have appeared in a wide range of different movies and they have even performed in Britney Spears music videos. Oreo and Cadillac have utilized the elephants for their ad campaigns.
Animal Defenders International has been on the case for some time now. A 2005 video that was taken by the group depicts elephants being trained in an overtly brutal manner by the HTWT workers. They were abused with stun guns and bull hooks. One of the elephants even cries when she receives an unwanted zap from the stun gun.
The elephants were also treated poorly even when they were not in the training process. They were chained up for hours at a time and left immobile. Even baby elephants were being mistreated and this footage is damning. The footage may be over a decade old but now that it has been re-released, there are many who are wondering if their training techniques have actually changed.
HBO spokespeople have already stated that these practices do not take place during their productions. What happens on the set and what happens behind the scenes are two different things, though. HBO is being urged to suspend their relationship with HTWT and only time will tell if they are willing to do so. The mistreatment of exotic animals is something that should never be tolerated under any circumstances.