Shocking footage of elephants being stunned and abused for TV programmes emerges

Animal rights campaigners have called for elephants to be banned from hit TV shows following video apparently showing the mammals being forced into crippling positions as they are taught to perform various tricks

Rachel McDermott
Friday 11 May 2018 15:36 BST
Undercover footage shows elephants being beaten behind the scenes on Westworld set

Shocking footage has emerged of elephants being beaten and shocked with stun guns to make them perform for shows including US sci-fi drama Westworld.

The wild animals can be heard crying out as they are forced into crippling positions – including being made to perform handstands on a small metal plinth.

The shocking scenes were captured as part of an eight-week undercover investigation by campaign group Animal Defenders International (ADI).

It revealed the elephants were being trained to perform in movies including Water for Elephants and Zookeeper as well as Britney Spears’ circus music video.

ADI has now called on HDO, the makers of Sky Atlantic’s Westworld to stop using elephants for entertainment purposes, branding the treatment as brutal.

One of the elephants featured in the latest episode is a 51-year-old female called Tai.

She is shown in the previously captured footage crying out as she is shocked with a stun gun to do the very tricks seen on screen.

ADI President Jan Creamer said: “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.

“There is no excuse for using the real thing when technology provides a realistic, humane alternative.”

Other brutal behind-the-scenes training techniques used on the animals are being beaten with bull hooks and being hit over the head and dragged by the trunk.

Other elephants were also filmed while chained by the legs barely able to take one step back and forward for up to 12 hours a day.

In a statement, HBO said: “We are reviewing the circumstances related to archival training footage, which included one of the elephants that appeared in the series.”

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