LOS ANGELES–Filmmaker Don Tayloe who made the award winning documentary The Last Elephants in Thailand,a stunning statement on elephant abuse in Asia and beyond, has joined Animal Defenders International (ADI) and other advocacy groups in condemning the new Reese Witherspoon film Water for Elephants, and its alleged abuse of Tai, the elephant star of the film.
According to filmmaker Tayloe, “In order for Elephants to be taught to do tricks, perform in a circus or paint, they have to be abused starting when they are babies. By the time they are adults they are robots and will more or less do what they are instructed to do. Even so, Bull Hooks are still used in the circus to control the animals. You do not see so much abuse when the elephants are adults because they have already been tortured to perform when they are young. Still as you can see from the underground video’s taken of the elephants in “Have Trunk will Travel,” they are still abused.”
Tayloe’s award winning documentary The Last Elephants in Thailand shows the hardships faced everyday by domesticated elephants and the humans who care for them, and we knew we had an urgent responsibility to share. Special attention is paid to the torturous training used to train elephants to paint.
“The picture of Tai painting a picture on the Fans Facebook page for “Water for Elephants,” proves that Tai has been abused, because other wise she would never paint a picture,” Tayloe continues. “That is just crazy to think that an elephant can paint. There is some kind of cognitive dissonance when people see these gentle giants performing tricks and think that is the natural thing for an elephant to do. That is just crazy.”
While Gary Johnson, one of the founders of Have Trunk Will Travel, the firm that supplied Tai, the 42- year old Asian elephant for the film, claims that there was no abuse involved in training Tai, shocking video released by ADI suggests otherwise. The video, filmed at Have Trunk Will Travel in 2005, shows Tai and other elephants being beaten and electric-shocked during training. The video also shows other cruel training techniques such as baby elephants being hooked in the lip and another elephant being pinned down with bull hooks whilst her tusks are sawn down, close to the bone.