Monday, February 18, 2013

Animals in the Entertainment Industry: No Happy Ending

When most people watch movies and television shows with animals in them, they forget to consider how the animals they see are treated in the name of entertainment. Even I am sometimes guilty of this, because when I get into a good movie, I tend to forget that the animals I see are being forced to perform. A couple months ago I went to see The Hobbit with my family. Right after I saw the movie, I discovered many animals had died from neglect during the filming of the movie. Next time I see a preview with live animals in it, I will do more research on the production of the film.

The recent death of Pat Derby, co- founder of Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), reminded me how poorly the entertainment industry treats animals. Derby started out as an animal trainer, and was involved in the training of animals on the sets of the popular TV shows “Flipper” and “Lassie.” After witnessing firsthand the abuse and neglect performing animals faced, Derby left the animal entertainment industry and went on to advocate for performing animals. Derby created animal sanctuaries that offer refuge to animals that have experience abuse in the entertainment industry. She also developed a model for training elephants without bullhooks or weapons.

I think a good rule of thumb is, if an animal is not in his or her natural habitat, then there is a good chance this animal is experiencing cruelty. Dolphins for example, although they look happy and playful at the aquarium and SeaWorld, the performing industry is not a good life for them. Dolphins are extremely intelligent, and they need large amounts of space and interaction with many other dolphins to lead fulfilling life. For more information on dolphins click here.

Those who go to see animals perform do not want them to experience cruelty, in fact, a lot of people who go to see animals at SeaWorld or at the circus claim to LOVE animals. Those in charge of these productions claim that after people see an animal perform, they will gain an appreciation for the entire species. The truth is, if you really care about animals, you want what is best for them, even if that means less excitement for you.  

There are some movies that have use technology to created realistic animals. The movie Golden Compass is a good example. By supporting movies that use visual effects for creating animals, you are saving animals from being forced into the entertainment industry. So next time you think of going to the circus, find an animal sanctuary near your hometown that offers animals a more peaceful and happy life. 

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