HBO Westworld under fire for using abused elephants


HBO comes under fire for the use of live elephants in the newest episode of Westworld.

PETA brought HBO under scrutiny yesterday when their show Westworld featured the use of live elephants in a recent episode. Not only live elephants, but elephants from the company Have Trunk Will Travel – one of the last companies that provide the entertainment industry with live elephants and who have come under fire themselves for documented cases of animal abuse.

PETA provided a video of the abusive training practices used by HTWT, in which one of the elephants being abused has been identified as one that appeared in the episode. PETA Manager of Animals in Film and Television, Lauren Thomasson wrote an open letter to the premium network and its management deriding the decision to even use live animals in the first place.

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In response to these allegations, HBO has responded that the treatment of animals by HTWT does not reflect their practices on set, saying the animals “are treated with the utmost care and respect for their health, safety, and well-being.” An American Humane representative was present at all times during scenes filmed with animals and concluded that all animals were well treated. HBO also said they are “reviewing the circumstances related to archival training footage which included one of the elephants that appeared in the series.”

In Westworld’s third episode of season two, the story features a park called the Raj set in Colonial India. Here the guests can go hunting for Bengal tigers – which when featured, it should be noted, were not live tigers but CGI. The episode features guests of the park arriving at their remote campsite by elephant – live elephants.

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I must admit, as I was first watching the episode I was surprised to see Westworld using real elephants. And knowing what we all know about the treatment of elephants in the entertainment industry, I was naturally skeptical regarding this choice and the safety of the animals. HBO says their animal safety practices are all above-board, but even if that’s true the practices of the company from which they procured the elephants are demonstrably not. HBO cannot be giving these kinds of companies their business and remain blameless in helping to perpetuate the problem.

Source: Deadline