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Tag: performing

The shocking truth about elephant star

Movie star electric shocked from Animal Defenders on Vimeo.

Tai, the 42-year-old Asian elephant who stars in the new movie “Water for Elephants” may not have been harmed in the making of that particular film — but he learned the tricks he does in it by being repeatedly shocked with electricity, an animal welfare organization says.

Animal Defenders International said a six-year-old video of Tai being trained has been posted on the Internet, shows trainers administering electric shocks as they teach him tricks.

“Water for Elephants,” a romantic drama set in a 1930s-era American circus, stars Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson. It is premiering this month.

Tai, supplied by Have Trunk Will Travel of California, plays the role of Rosie, an elephant who is brutally attacked with a bull hook by by the circus owner.

The American Humane Association monitored production of the movie — and it, as well as the producers, stars, and trainers have said Tai was treated with nothing but kindness during the movie’s making.

A representative of the American Humane Association stated during the making of the movie, “all these animals have been treated fairly and humanely throughout the entire course of their training.”

Gary Johnson, a founder of Have Trunk Will Travel claimed: “Tai was never hit in any way at all,” according to ADI.

ADI, however, says video filmed at Have Trunk Will Travel in 2005 clearly shows Tai being shocked as part of his training.

Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of ADI said: “We were uncomfortable with the message of this film, but the more we saw the repeated assertions that this elephant has been treated with love and affection and never been abused, we realized that we had to get the truth out. The public, the stars and the filmmakers have been duped. This poor elephant was trained to do the very tricks you see in the film by being given electric shocks.”

ADI said it was sending copies of the video to the film’s stars and makers.

“I believe that Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson will be horrified to learn what Tai went through,” Creamer said.

ADI has also contacted American Humane Association, urging them to re-evaluate how they assess the use of animals in films. ADI is also calling for a boycott of the film.

From death row to Broadway stage

macyThe sun will come out tomorrow — at least it did for Macy.

Macy was a scruffy little mutt, picked up as a stray and taken to Pontotoc County Animal Welfare Society in Ada, Oklahoma — a facility that generally holds dogs for three days before “deciding their future.”

(Meaning, especially in times of shelter overcrowding, whether they are going to have one.)

Macy, though unadopted and unclaimed, managed to stay there for several months, but as time passed her chances were growing dimmer.

She caught a break when she was chosen for a prison dog program called New Leash on Life at the CCA-Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville, Okla. But it turned out to be a temporary reprieve.

“Unfortunately, despite being a model student, Macy was the only dog at the end of the program scheduled to return to a kill shelter instead of an adoptive home or no-kill rescue,” according to RockySpot Rescue in Newcastle.

Macy’s future was looking pretty bleak again when, after her time in the prison program, RockySpot rescue took her in. RockySpot put a photo of Macy on its website, in hopes of finding her a home.

Another three months had passed when her picture was spotted by Bill Berloni, who trains animals for Broadway shows.

Berloni flew in from New York to look at her, and he liked what he saw.

Macy will be performing on Broadway, playing the role of Sandy in the musical “Annie.”

The moral of the story? Every time an orphaned dog is “euthanized,” a potential happy ending bites the dust.

(Photo: RockySpot Rescue)

Chitty Chitty Woof Woof

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the whimsical musical that opened at Baltimore’s Hippodrome this week, features eight dogs in the cast — all owned, in real life, by a former circus performer who turns abandoned dogs into show biz dogs.

Joanne Wilson is the trainer, handler and owner of Samantha (who stars as Edison in the play) and the other seven dogs with supporting roles.

The musical, which runs through Jan. 18, focuses on a whimsical family of inventors trying to harness the powers of a magical car. That has little to do with dogs, admits Ray Roderick, the director who adapted the Broadway show into the touring production, but he decided to include them as an homage to the 1968 movie, which was peppered with pooches.

“Everyone says never work with children or dogs,” Roderick told the Baltimore Sun. “Clearly, I disagree.”

In the show, the pack of dogs bursts onto the stage and sprints across it at full speed, controlled by a hot dog that Wilson is holding offstage.

Wilson, a longtime animal trainer, began rescuing dogs from the streets after leaving the circus, which led her and her sister to establishing Wonder Dogs, a program that rescues dogs from shelters and turns them into show dogs.

Any dog that can no longer perform remains with the Wilson sisters after retirement, their website says. 

The canine cast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang includes Buddy, a rat terrier; Penny, a a Pomeranian, as well as Lucky, Bear, Cory, Percy and Sugar.

Wilson and her husband follow the show from town to town in their dog-filled van — including the eight dogs in the show, five more of Wilson’s other dogs and another that belongs to a cast member.

(Image from wilsondogs.com)

And in this case, two other is carried out at the embryonic stage, stage.