Have Trunk Will Travel Responds to Alleged Abuse of Tai the Elephant

Updated 5/12/11:

In light of the new ADI video that shows extended footage of the elephants at HTWT, we have updated this post to share only the official statement from HTWT.

To the activists, please note we are only a fan site for the movie and we would appreciate that your criticisms be directed to the appropriate people – not us. As you can probably imagine, this is a very difficult time for the administrators of this blog that have met these elephants.

Below is the official statement from Have Trunk Will Travel:

We are unwavering in our commitment to elephants. We stand by our care and training methods. We are proud of our contributions to elephant welfare and conservation.

Animal rights extremist groups are using Tai’s role in Water for Elephants as a vehicle to take advantage of her celebrity to further their efforts to remove elephants and all exotic animals from entertainment. These groups have no basis of knowledge or experience working with elephants. They have an agenda and a history of using less than honest means to achieve their goals.

The video shows heavily edited and very short snippets, obviously taken surreptitiously six years ago, purporting mistreatment of our elephants. If there was truly any abuse going on why wait six minutes, much less six years?

None of the footage being shown was taken during Tai’s training for Water for Elephants. Tai’s celebrity and the popularity of the movie seem to be the motivation for the extremist groups to garner publicity for themselves and their cause. As our work in the movie proves you can make something look like anything to suit your purposes. That is why they call it “movie magic”.

Rest assured that we will continue to provide Tai and all of our elephants with the love and excellent care they deserve.

Gary and Kari Johnson

Have Trunk Will Travel, Inc.

This entry was posted in Have Trunk Will Travel, Tai, Water for Elephants. Bookmark the permalink.

180 Responses to Have Trunk Will Travel Responds to Alleged Abuse of Tai the Elephant

  1. DebbieCDC (aka SeattleChik) says:

    Believe me when I say that I am a fierce advocate for humane treatment of ALL animals. I give as much money as I can possibly afford to organizations that rescue and care for both domestic and wild animals. I would never under ANY circumstances support a film — no matter WHO it starred — where ANY animal was mistreated in any way. I understand that some groups are extreme in their actions to draw attention to the very real problems of animal neglect and abuse that occur. But that is NOT the case with the group advocating a boycott of Water for Elephants or condemning HTWT for supposed mistreatment of Tai. This is IMHO a case of a group using the film’s publicity to further their own, not so pure, agenda. I would have no problem with them using WFE’s success or Tai’s popularity to promote causes that save animals from abuse and neglect. But to distort the facts to garner publicity for THEMSLEVES — and NOT the animals — is beyond contempt. If you truly care for the animals and their safety and welfare, work CONSTRUCTIVELY towards that end.

    • Steffi says:

      In order to work constructively HTWT needs to answer the allegations, which they very pointedly did not do. Any work they do to champion animal causes is wonderful, but it is beside the point right now. This video raises the specific issue of HTWT’s training methods. No one is saying abuse took place for WFE, but does this outfit use bull hooks, electric prods and beating to teach elephants tricks? We deserve a simple answer, and can weigh for ourselves whether the methods harm the animals welfare in our view. My allegiance is to the animals, and not automatically to ANY group or organization (to err is oh so human).

      Yes, ADI is jumping on this case to advance their own agenda. We can judge for ourselves whether we think their cause is pure, or not. But listening to HWTW attack them as amateurs and extremists only makes HWTW appear to be skirting the allegations. If ADI has been dishonest in the past, give us an example, and tell us what is dishonest in this video.

      It’s time to give us the straight facts and let us judge. If the video is unfairly edited, tell us how. If those aren’t electric prods, tell us. If they are, and HWTW thinks they are humane, tell us why. We are adults with critical minds. Respect our powers of discernment and give us the straight facts. We want to fully support HWTW…. give us reason to do so.

      • Alissa says:

        I liked your post on the Water for Elephants allegations.

      • Jane says:

        I firmly believe that this is a scam because if it was true, they would have acted in six minutes, not six years. Too many people have seen Tai and watched her interaction with her siblings and her surroundings and she is a very happy elephant. Like I say, Tai has worked in other movies since 2005. Why was this not brought to attention then?

      • Arlene Smith says:

        Ok Kari Johnson, I saw the video and I have seen many from circus. You want to prove them and me wrong ,,,contact me Arlene M. Smith 209-295-8413…I will come there and judge for myself and others…if you truly care and are honest you have nothing to hide…I expect to hear from you ASAP if I don’t then I will know you are hiding something…and then I will do everything to shut you down…your choice…stand by your word and show us that that video lied…I am willing to give you the chance if not people are powerful and you will never be on a film again…I do expect a response from you personally…you may think I am a joke but I am not….don’t think the power of pp is lost because it is not…

      • Jethro Bodine says:

        Ha, Ha, Ha! That Arlene Smith is a real hoot. I imagine that Arlene Smith must be a very powerful person. Anybody that crosses her is doomed. Isn’t it wonderful that Arlene Smith exists to judge right and wrong on the behalf of others.

    • Ruth Westnidge says:

      Hello? Electric shocks? Bullhooks? How is that ADI doing something bad? You’d prefer not to know, so you can enjoy the movie with a clear conscience. To which I say again: Hello?

    • jainem says:

      You apparently have not watched the 9 minute video from ADI. Just in case you think this is a isolated incidences, all circus elephants are abused to train them, that is the only way they can control this huge animal. Gary and Kari Johnson with Have Trunk Will Travel are no different than Ringling Bros Circus when it comes to abusing their elephants to make them perform. A picture speaks a thousand words and a video leaves no doubts.
      Elephant abuse for entertainment is still alive and well in the 21st century.

  2. maah says:

    this situation sucks, i didn’t watch this video and i don’t even want to but doesn’t matter what happened Fox, Rob, Reese and Waltz have nothing to do with this, they didn’t know about it.
    I really hope this video is fake, because if it is not Have Trunk Will must pay for this.
    Poor Tai, i hope she is ok.

  3. Katie says:

    I don’t think I believe it’s real, but no where in the statement did they say it wasn’t true. Just that it was highly edited and the Tai wasn’t hurt. What about the other elephants? Some of the stuff in the video looks normal, yet some others questionable. However, I have little knowledge of elephant training so it’s hard for me to know what’s proper. Also, just because you spent 3 hours there doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Of course they may be putting on an act to show how ‘loving’ they are. Which I’m sure they are loving, but they obviously wouldn’t make any supposed abuse happen during public visiting hours. So I’m just saying that’s a bad example.
    Anyways, this entire situation is sketchy.

    • angie says:

      Regardless the elephants should not be there. They should be in the wild. I don’t see elephants in the wild behaving like that. standing on their two front legs. Get them out of there and close down HTWT. I will not be going to see the movie.

      • Kim says:

        Don’t go and see the movie if you don’t want to but I can’t see how that will help the elephants. Boycotting the movie is not a rational solution. There are other ways of contributing to the cause of animal right defense.
        Me and my friends have decided to boycott the boycotters, and have been taking friends to see the movie/sending them to see it every time we’ve seen someone saying they’re going to boycott.
        I will add that the theaters are packed. So much for the boycott.

  4. gizzy says:

    I believe that the video was also edited to achieve the results wanted. Why else would you wait and hold onto a video of animal abuse for this long and then show it now?

    • Kat says:

      I wondered about that too. I don’t think ADI said they took the video. Perhaps they just became aware of the video. I read that ADI is always asking for videos. evidence of animal abuse.

    • Stephanie Blackbird says:

      We don’t know how the video came to light and edited or not – not one second of animal abuse is ok!

      • Caroline says:

        Apparently the reason the video was not released earlier is because it was part of an ongoing investigation into HTWT. The reason it was brought out now is because there were growing questions over the treatment of Tai and other elephants at HTWT and growing controversy around the movie. Whether the footage is heavily edited on not, there is no denying those animals were tasered, beated with bullhooks and were in pain even from the short clips you have tell an elephant during periods of stress. Those animals are stressed.

  5. JA says:

    I wish they had given a better explanation of what we’re actually seeing in the video. Take out the elephant screams and it it doesn’t look any worse than what we see at the circus with the lion tamer taunting the lions and tigers.

    • Stephanie Blackbird says:

      That is why I don’t go to the Circus – those animals are absolutely being abused for people’s enjoyment!

    • Audrey says:

      Just because it doesn’t look any worse than the taunting you see at a circus doesn’t make it ok. The circus is not the place for elephants, tigers, lions etc!!

  6. fuhb says:

    humans.. why cant we just leave other animals in their natural habitad where they belong? how the fuck do you sickos know how the elephant feels about being hit with sticks and given electric shock? beat yourself’s and taise yourselfs to find out. i hope thoes elephants stomp on their trainers one day, just like i hope circus lions and tigers and for that fact just all animals kept alive to entertain humans get revenge on their trainers. serves you right, idiots.

  7. LM says:

    Notice how their statement never denies that they were using electric-shock and bullhooks on the elephants. Nor do they try to deny that their trainers and Tai were in the video. They instead try to paint ADI as an extremist group who heavily edited the video – but of course, they ignore the fact that the edited portions of the video just happen to show electrocution and bull-hook prodding by their trainers. Although, apparently this doesn’t fall under their definition of “abuse”. Also, they continue to insist that no abuse happened during Tai’s training specifically for Water For Elephants. They never deny that abuse happened BEFORE Tai trained for the movie.
    Unbelievable. This organization should be shut down, and Tai and the other elephants they own should be put in a sanctuary, and never have to perform again.

    • angie says:

      I’m with you LM. Shut the disgusting establishment down and set those poor animals free. Makes you want to ask questions about the sort of people running this joint. sicko’s

  8. Vickie says:

    Bottom Line – Since you have a dialogue with HTWT you need to point blank ask them what are their training methods. If they can’t or won’t give you detailed information then everything in the video is true.

  9. Miranda says:

    why they did nothing for 6 years?
    Why not try to denounce the abuses?
    Why they are only interested in boycotting the movie?
    And how is Tai? continues to stay there to suffer? This group does not ask for help to save her? Do not care about her future if she continues to suffer ill treatment and abuse?




    • Audrey says:

      I think ADI believe that by boycotting events where exotic animals were or may have been abused will help to end the use of animals in show business. So it is a good idea to avoid the movie, aswell as not go to see roadside circuses! It will help exotic animals who are existing in bad situations!

  10. Miranda says:

    I have not seen the video, I had no courage.
    But, if it is confirmed that the video was recorded in 2005, why was only released now after the release of the movie?
    If those who recorded the video were really interested in reporting the abuse of animals and concerned about the elephants would have a moral obligation to disclose at least the video earlier, when they started recording the movie.

    Why only now?!

    As I said, I have not had the courage to see the video, but I think it’s very suspicious, why was not disclosed before, why let the movie come to $ 63,383,220 (Worldwide)? If the film was not having as much success, this video would have come out someday? Why only appeared after six years?

    A true animal lover would have reported the situation, since the beginning of the recordings of the film. This is my honest opinion.

    • Denise says:

      Maybe they got the video recently. I can’t believe that they waited until now because they had a motive. If this was the case, why not release it near premier day, when it would get more coverage? Regardless, it’s unfortunate that the video didn’t get into the right hands sooner, but that doesn’t make the video less awful. It upset me to see elephants being beat like that. The footage was amateur and unscripted, the fear on the elephants’ faces palpable. Everyone should watch the video and make up their own mind. The trainers were abusive and beat/shocked the elephants as if they were angry at them.

    • Jenna says:

      Animal Defenders International released this statement on their facebook page:
      “the footage from HTWT was part of a wider investigation. ADI decided to release the footage now as the global promotion of the film was being used to spread misinformation about elephant training. We felt obliged to release the brutal truth. The nature of our investigations means that the findings may take some time to come to fruition. The footage is authentic and ADI can verify this.”

      • Anne says:

        Really. It took them six years to do an investigation? and meanwhile the animals continued to suffer during these six years of research? Six years, six fucking years. They had many other opportunities to expose the situation, Tai participated in media events and many other films before, such as music videos with Britney Spears, commercials with Ellen Degeneres, participations on famous celebrities birthdays and they never made any complaint. THEY HAD MANY OPPORTUNITIES BEFORE DAMMIT.
        Regarding the global promotion of the film have been used to spread misinformation about elephant training, this never was spoke during the promotion of films, they not spoke about the training of Tai, director and actors simply admitted their love for her, I do not see what misinformation you are talking about. Or does this mean that if Tai was not mentioned in the promotion, this abusive video would not have been released?
        What Animal Defenders International should have done was to have acted early in the beginning of the recording of the film, since they did not act in six fucking years. If the actors and director knew of these abuses, they would never have made the film; the trainers of Tai would never have won the money they won. Or they could spoke one week before the premiere, what they did win with the release of the video now after the abusers win the money, and the film has already premiered in theaters and have reached $ 64,000,000 worldwide.
        The excuse they have to do it only now it’s pathetic.
        Suppose then that they did not consider the promotion of the film as a means to spread misinformation about elephant training, they thought that the promotion of the film, focused on love between Jacob and Marlena, they would not disclose the abuse?
        would let the abusers unpunished and close their mouths?
        How many years would remain silent? More 6 years?

  11. Annie says:

    I think the only way wild animals will stop from being used in movies is if some type of law is passed and the public boycotts films with them in it. Until then abuse like this will occur. The elephants are their bread and butter.

  12. Linda says:

    Such a beautiful movie….and to see that people (and I use the term loosely) want to tarnish the caregivers and trainers of these beautiful animals is tragic. Those who want to further their own agenda by making erroneous statments and doctored videos should be prosecuted to the furthest extent of the law…

    Linda Hayes
    San Diego, CA

    • Alissa says:

      Yes they should. I loved your post. I hate that this is even out there. =(

    • Jenna says:

      This isn’t a doctored video madame. This is what has to be done to elephants to get them to do inane circus tricks. They are intelligent beings who have to be broken mentally and thus be dominated by humans. I believe you got it wrong – the monsters who are the Johnsons should (and hopefully) will be punished to the full extent of the law.

      • Linda says:

        You should have proof of those accusations….the “doctored video” is, in my opinion proof of un-substantiated accusations….

    • Denise says:

      Did you even see the video? What is traffic is that people – “and I use the term lightly” don’t have enough intelligence to research the facts. I don’t care if this “beautiful movie is tarnished” if the facts support that an elephant was abused. This in no way marginalizes the actors’ talents. How sad that we can’t exchange open dialogue without offending the groupies. Boo hoo, it must suck to be so obtuse.

      • Linda says:

        I feel fine about my opinion…again I state if you feel so passionate about your “stand” take it somewhere else,
        somewhere where you can make a difference…it isn’t
        going to be here….

      • angie says:

        Linda, when did you last see an elephant in the wild stand on its two front feet, natural isn’t it. anything that these animals are made to do is inhumane. that fascist using a bull hook was not manufactured. explain that one.

    • Angel says:

      Some people, even when they see it with their own eyes, still refuse to admit that this type of thing occurs. Was your “beautiful movie” worth the pain and fear this animal was put through? Edited or not, those moments HAPPENED. Elephants do not naturally perform circus tricks, nor should they ever be forced to. What is beautiful about humiliating any creature? Would it be ok to take African children away from their homes and beat and electrocute them into wearing “cute” outfits and performing “beautiful” tricks? You are the reason things like this go on. I can only hope that something softens your heart and soul at some point on this earth. Your denial when faced with an obvious evil makes me sick to my stomach.

    • Janet says:

      Are you blind?! The video is very clear. ADI did not in any way doctor that video that showed that ass sticking the bull hook in the baby elephant’s mouth (causing it to scream) and hitting it in the head with the bull hook! This is what routinely goes on in our society…elephants are routinely abused with bull hooks ~ some of them even go nuts and stomp their “care givers!” ……ah,…well at least with that some justice occurs though it does usually get the poor elephant executed.

      The movie portrays misinformation about how elephants are routinely trained. I believe ADI wants to make the point that it is not all wonderful positive reinforcement that was used to train Tai and is taking the opportunity to show us what really goes on. Why some of you are fighting this information when you can just Google” elephant abuse” and see this happens time and time again is beyond me!! Wake up and instead of worrying about whether this film makes any money, worry about what is important…. the lives and the pain of other creatures who do not deserve this treatment, who do not deserve to be abused so that we can be entertained by them. Jenna and Denise you said it perfectly…the Johnsons are the problem here and need to be punished for their insolence and abuse…. I’d be glad to be the one to take a bull hook to any one of them or shock them with that zapper into the next dimension.

      I feel sad that Linda is so uncaring…. Or maybe it is that she is just not too bright…OR more importantly and what really makes sense to me is that SHE IS A SHILL FOR THESE ABUSERS and she was planted here in order to defend her accused companions at Have Trunk Will Travel, Inc?

      Linda, this site is exactly where such information should be shared so people can be made aware of and consider such truths. So much more goes on beyond the “screens of Hollywood” and if you are not the shill I suspect you are, your sitting with your head up your ass being entertained while other beings suffer is an amoral position to take.

  13. Alissa says:

    I made a comment awhile back on HTWT’s facebook page and was disturbed today when someone posted the video in response to my comment. If the video is edited, then shame on ADI. Why is there no content on who took the video and why they were there? I would imagine that HTWT doesn’t invite just anyone in. Also HTWT has provided animals for many different movies and functions. In my heart I believe that if there were abuse that it would have been brought to light before a popular romantic movie came out. Why not any of the others? Prove this video wrong HTWT. If not, there will be alot of broken hearts out there. I know mine was even thinking that such a beautiful animal could possibly be abused. Tai is precious.

    • dash says:

      Generally when these videos are shot it is by someone who goes “undercover” , working for the organization while secretly documenting what goes on there. Occasionally an existing employee is horrified enough to turn on their employers. That’s why most of these videos lack content regarding identity and their reason for being there. They are being protected

  14. Jennifer says:

    This is incredibly disheartening. I loved the movie and I don’t believe anyone involved in the making of the film knew how Tai and others were being trained. No, I don’t believe they were abused on set, but it’s nearly impossible for animal organizations to vet out abuse off the set. IMO, after doing some research today and checking around it’s clear their training methods are atrocious at best. I appreciate you posting the above response from Johnson, but the video speaks louder than words.

  15. Jan Creamer says:

    There is no denial that the video depicts actual events. Bear in mind that anyone visiting an establishment, or attempting to monitor it, inevitably has an effect on the behaviour of the workers; they will not see the reality. Behind closed doors, and in private, brutal and unacceptable control methods are used on performing animals all over the world, every day. We have exposed similar treatment of animals in circuses over the past two decades, but sometimes the law cannot protect these animals. Decisions have to be made about how to best to secure lasting change. This is most often through wide-ranging studies of industry practices. The footage had not been released, as it was part of a wider study. However, in this instance we felt obligated to release it because global promotion of the film was being used to spread misinformation about the lifetime training of elephants. Animal Defenders International.

    • Buda says:

      And you needed 6 YEARS to send it to a creepy tabloid? that’s the way you defense animals? Then you need to learn A LOT. I’m not gonna defend that people hurting the animals, but you’re just as guilty as them for not doing anything IN 6 YEARS!!!!
      And then, all you are doing is say boicott, boicott, boicott… Why don’t you spend your time trying to save those elephants instead of being arround this fan sites boycotting the honest work of thousands of people involved in this beautiful movie?

  16. Cindy Wines says:

    I just watched the video of the abuse of Tai and the other elephants that you say are so loved at HTWT and I think it is pathetic that you are lying about how you treat your eles with love and respect and marshmallow treats. I met you in Tucson when you were giving ele rides which is also not fair. Shame on your for hitting, shocking and beating Tai and the other els at your facility. I am forwarding this video to Charles Gibson and Tom Vilsack at the USDA. I also spoke to the American Humane Association and they lie about the welfare of Tai in this film. It is so painful for her to stand on her head and do stupid tricks. Sawing off the eles tusks. Your people are no better than Ringling Bros Circus.
    They have no voice and I can see how she shreeks in fear. Shame on you all for abusing these wonderful elephants.

  17. Denise says:

    I’m not a fan of Peta so I viewed the video of the Have Trunck Will Travel elephant training video on PAWS’ website with an open mind. What I saw sickened me. The trainers DID beat the elephants, inserted bull hooks info theirs mouths and ear, and shocked them. For all of you who refuse to believe it, check it out for yourself. Maybe the elephant wasn’t beat on set where people could see, but after viewing the aggressive and angry beatings, there’s no doubt in my mind that her life must mirror her book character – an abused animal. I loved the book and was planning to see the movie, but now I won’t bother.

  18. Kat says:

    I’m just curious those of you who are defending HTWT and saying they doctored the video. How can you be so certain? I’d love to believe it’s false, but ADI is not some crazy, militant animal rights organization. ADI has actually done a lot of animal rescue and stopped a lot of abuse. If true at least WFE will have brought this to light and hopefully justice will be done.

  19. Susan says:

    It’s a shame that bad people take a good cause and manipulate it for their own purposes. My support is with Tai’s human Mom and Dad. If she was mistreated, the production would never have gotten the Humane stamp of approval and I seriously doubt the stars, who were animal lovers themselves, would have stood for it.

    Shame on you to the animal rights activists who are taking attention away from real issues with this farce. You are just jeopardizing your own credibility when you could be doing something worthwhile.

    It’s a sad day when people like this target people who have done and continue to do so much good!!

    • Jan says:

      The American Humane stamp of approval is only for treatment on the movie set. The alleged abuse (video) is not on set. American Humane even made a statement that they only know how an animal is treated on set. Of course the production and stars would not have stood for abuse, but they don’t know what goes on off set.

  20. Cindy says:

    There’s so much I want to say to this–but Jen, I think you are mistaken. First of all–you spent THREE HOURS & you never saw any mistreatment? Do you REALLY think a 3 hour “tour” is enough to come to a valid assessment? puhlease. I BET you saw nothing but love & compassion. Some creepy foster parents also play real nice when social services check up on child abuse cases. THEN..the Johnson’s response–omg, explaining videos showing an agenda as “heavily edited” & “snippets” as a basis for defense is pure falseness. PEOPLE–please use your own better judgement in this–what you SEE in a “snippet” is real. That “sounds” good–but use your head. And-I am a far-right Conservative. I’m no far-left libby–I won’t even join their animal-protection groups b/c I don’t trust any liberals–but these people ARE abusing animals. PERIOD. The videos of abuse are not “heavily edited”. Plus–the Johnson’s say the video’s were “6 years ago”—and…why does this matter?

    I refuse to support Circuses, Rodeos, Horse Races, Horse Shows, Dolphin/Whale shows, most zoo’s, and anything that exploits animals. I did NOT support a bill the libs were trying to get passed here in the Midwest re:puppy mills (though there are problems I just ask anyone reading this–startdoing your own research.)

  21. Tory says:

    Pat Derby and Ed Stewart of the Performing Animal Welfare Society in CA have worked with elephants for decades. They know how animals are “trained”/abused and pick up the pieces when animals are no longer wanted. Here is Pat’s response to the video and HTWT response: http://bit.ly/lZXXlD

    Jen, if you really want to see elephants living free (as free as captive elephants can live) then visit one of the PAWS open houses in May or June. I am sure Pat will be happy to have you. Email me and I will be sure to send it to her. http://www.pawsweb.org

    The word extremist is used to turn people off, but who is extremist when they want to help animals? Agreed, PETA shoots itself in the foot sometime, but their undercover footage of the Ringling beatings shows the same kind of “training”/abuse. Unfortunately it is all too common. As Derby said, “I hated the way elephants were trained. Elephants bring out a fury in many men as no other creature does, a rage to dominate and to hurt.” Anne the circus elephant in the UK was just given sanctuary after the video of her beating with a pitchfork was carried on all media in the UK. The whole populace was so outraged that she was removed in less than a week. We don’t have that here in the US – to have that kind of all around exposure. It only comes to us in bits and pieces, and WFE fans are now being exposed to one of the many unfortunate videos showing this kind of “training.”

    In order to get these giants to perform, and be taught when young, they are prodded and stabbed, as you saw in the video. Do YOU want to stand on your head? What if YOU didn’t feel like it even as a kid? What if you were MADE to do it? The only way to get it done with elephants during training is to use brute force. So when you see an elephant finally perform, as you did when seeing the rehersals, all that has to be done is to show the bullhook, the elephants know what could be in store if they don’t do what is asked. This is a highly intelligent animal with better memory storage than humans.

    Steffi made some very good points in her comment. I too question why ADI waited so long to show this video AFTER the premier. But be that as it may, it does not negate how elephants are trained, especially circus elephants. I believe it was edited but not “photo-shopped”, and that does not negate the fact that th elephants were touched in that brutal way. To me it does not matter if it was Tai, no elephant should be trained like that. They have the right to have their own lives for their own sakes.

    There was never any necessity to use Tai in the first place. Fox could have used CGI for the elephant. It is to Sara Guren’s discredit that she did not insist that CGI be used in the first place – to write about an abused elephant and then use an abusively trained elephant is a shame. I hope Fox learns a lesson from this – use CGI. That is the best outcome I can think of.

    Again, please read Pat Derby’s link http://bit.ly/lZXXlD

    elephant education on Facebook:
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=55941317232 – sanctuaries
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=5630459123 – news and education
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=106831981842 – news and advocacy

    • Mia says:

      The BEST thing about WFE is the fact that they used a real elephant and to use a CGI one would be no where near as effective.

      I’m sorry your website has been invaded, you’ve done a great job here and WFE was such a beautiful movie. It’s a shame they are trying to tarnish it. If it is real then fair enough but the fact is they’ve waited 6 years to show this and there is no excuse for that, pictures do lie these days and can be edited to show what they want us to see. Anyway Tink I’m signing out of this, WFE was lovely and I can’t wait to own it on DVD but yeah these people on here… No thanks.

      • Linda says:

        Well said….

      • Bettybmusing says:

        Decades meaning 20-30 yrs or more and they did not know about Have Trunk Will Travel ???? In this millennium ??? Your eagerness to share information now is not impressive. Tai and the other animals needed you 6yrs ago. You failed them. Stop laying your failures at someone else’s feet. You own this!

      • Bettybmusing says:

        Ahhh so because I wrote a reply to a comment I am now a animal. If” these “are the type of people in ADI organization..

        Now the iron fist covered with the velvet glove is revealed, you and your people are trying to take over this forum to promote ADI. True fans and friends of this site will defend these young ladies, Robert and Tai’s family if need be. Name calling will not change that Angel. Such a pretty name …. ….

    • Bettybmusing says:

      Decades meaning 20-30 yrs or more and they did not know about Have Trunk Will Travel ???? In this millennium ??? Your eagerness to share information now is not impressive. Tai and the other animals needed you 6yrs ago. You failed them. Stop laying your failures at someone else’s feet. You own this !

      • Angel says:

        These types of videos have been released for going on 20 years now, and just like you, people deny and simply don’t care. As long as you’re entertained! As long as these “beautiful” movies get made! If anyone is failing animals, it is people like you — the human animal. Sickening.

  22. Stephanie Blackbird says:

    You spent 3 hours at the ranch? What does that prove? And regardless of how heavily edited or how short the snippets – what I was is appalling and disturbing! Why should animals be used for entertainment?

  23. jolie says:

    I love animals but some activists are just tricky and evil enough to use a movie which ironically, teaches lesson against cruelty, to further their aim

    How DUMB can you Animal Defenders get? By WATCHING WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, YOU WILL GAIN MORE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD AGAINST CRUELTY. That is the movie’s lesson.


    Tsk tsk by going against the movie not against HTWT I say you have HIDDEN AGENDA. You are more out to destroy the movie than help Tai.

    • dash says:

      I don’t know, isn’t information that the very elephant portraying an abused elephant was abused herself show that animal abuse is still ver much a problem today and not just one of the past? We all need to be more responsible, from the top all the way down.. this is too sad for people to be fighting

  24. Tricia says:

    Have Trunk Will Travel has been cited in the past for abusive treatment of animals. The video speaks for itself. I don’t understand why ADI waited to release evidence of abuse, perhaps they are building a case against Have Trunk, but what is depicted is clearly abusive.
    American Humane is not a reputable or reliable organization when it comes to animal welfare, as it gets its funding from the movie industry itself. This definitely colors how it views animal “usage.” Also American Humane never observes or oversees “training” (nobody does); it only monitors animal use on the set, after the “training” is complete.
    Animal circuses are inherently abusive. There is no way they can be improved or cleaned up. By creating a movie with distorted, inaccurate information about the animal entertainers, Fox and the producers are furthering animal abuse.

    • Jennifer says:

      There is video that proves that the Animal Humane Society was onset. But that only covers what happened onset. They’re right in saying Tai was abused during the filming of the movie. The actors loved her. It’s Have Trunk Will Travel that did the abusing, not the movie.

  25. Elephant lover says:

    Seems to me that if you beat your child or spouse, you don’t do it in public and certainly not when child protective services are visiting. It’s the same at Have Trunk Will Travel. What the public and inspectors see is not what really goes on as shown by recent videos. Even if the videos are only partially true, the elephants are suffering. When a company is for profit, as they are, animals are in jeopardy for the bottom line.

  26. On the Official Web site of “Water for Elephants” is the picture of an Elephant Painting. Elephant painting is something I know about since we made a Documentary, “The Last Elephants in Thailand,” which Documents the Cruelty behind Elephant painting. Our Documentary refutes the idea that Elephants can paint without first being broken, and makes a lie of the response by Have Trunk will Travel

    • tinkrbe1l3 says:

      That is not true. The official web site of Water for Elephants has the trailer for the movie. There is no picture of an elephant painting. How can anyone believe what you say when you start your comment with inaccurate information. Please take your comments to the proper forum. This is a FAN site for Robert Pattinson and the film WFE.

      http://www.waterforelephants.com is the official site.

  27. gingerliu@yahoo.com says:

    “I spent over 3 hours touring the facilities, and meeting the staff and all of the elephants. I never once witnessed any abuse, or even heard a verbal command given to the elephants that was above a whisper.”

    Spoken like a Social Worker who visits the family of an alleged child abuse victim. Do you think they are going to abuse an animal in front of you? This is why there are hidden cameras to see what really goes on.

    Do you also think it is right to have an elephant do hand stands and tricks? These animals are slaves. Why do elephants need to do hand stands? This is so cruel and humiliating. How do you think they get such a big animal to do these tricks? It isn’t by soft talking. Would you do these tricks all day and every day of your life without being forced and hit and beaten to do so? Use your head.

    • tinkrbe1l3 says:

      And you use YOUR head. We are FANS of Robert Pattinson and Water for Elephants the novel. That was how we started this site. Anything beyond that has been a new experience and we do not have inside information about FOX, HTWT, or ADI. This issue is bigger than us and bigger than this site. Take your questions and your head to the proper forum.

  28. Susan says:

    I won’t engage trolls. HTWT has my support. Done.

    • jainem says:

      Your attitude is exactly why elephant abuse is still going strong in the 21st century. One day you will look back on your comments supporting HTWT and realize what a huge mistake you made and how you contributed to the abuse of these elephants.

  29. jainem says:

    Make no mistake, captive elephant abuse is alive and well. A search of the Internet and you can see pictures of a baby elephant training session, these baby are screaming and defecating because of the pain inflicted on them with a bullhook.
    The video released by ADI showing Tai and her fellow performers being hit with a bullhook and shocked just confirms that these elephants like most captive elephants are abused for entertainment and profit, this is how the circus trains their baby elephants.

  30. Ellie says:

    In my opinion, Have Trunks Will Travel did NOT address the abuse shown on the video. They offered a “fluffy” response. Did these animals get tazzed in 2005? Yes or no. What are their training methods. They really do have a responsibility to address these allegations fully. It is NOT the responsibility of 20th Century Fox or their stars to not only address the issue, but solely bear the repercussions. This movie is an important example of humans advocating animal rights!!

  31. Jess says:

    Why should ANY animal be used for entertainment? They are NOT here to perform tricks for your amusement! I don’t care whether the video was real or not, it makes not a jot of difference! Animals should be respected, often they are not, and that pi$$es me right off.

  32. Pingback: Water for elephants abuse

  33. Barbara says:

    You are certified by the AZA, can you confirm that no electrical device was used at any time? Also, will you be filing any defamation suits against the many news organizations who have published aticles on HTWT? And, if not, why?

    5.1.1. Electrical devices designed for use on livestock, such as commercially manufactured electric prods and shocking collars/belts, are prohibited as routine training tools or for handling animals during exhibition. Electric prods are permissible only as an emergency safety device; however, their use is restricted to situations in which keepers feel the imminent need to defend themselves against elephant attacks, or to protect an elephant from possible injury (see Schanberger et al. 2001).

    The AZA considers the following training tools/techniques to be inappropriate for use at member institutions:
    c. Striking an elephant with any sharp object, including the hook of an ankus (Fowler 1995).

  34. Maria says:

    I agree that brutality to animals is intolerable.
    But boycotting the movie is not the solution. For example I watched the movie twice, if I knew of these abuses BEFORE , even enjoying the story and the actors, I would never have gone to see the movie.
    I FEEL very upset by ONLY KNOW NOW PAST 6 YEARS.

    let’s imagine that from now on, no one will see the movie, it no longer matters, the owners of Tai, already received the money for her work. And during these six years? Nobody bothered to denounce? and then when they heard that she would participate in the film? why not report to try to prevent the owners make more money? why only now? now they are affecting only the actors and producers, people I’m sure did not know of these abuses.

    And what about the main victim, Tai, she continues to suffer there, because if she continues to stay there, she will continue to receive abuses, nobody thinks of it? What does it matter if no one is watching the movie anymore, and she continues to suffer?
    she is still there, making presentations to visitors, and was like this, being abused for 6 years, not 6 minutes, not 6 hours, not 6 days, not 6 weeks, she was like this 6 years for god’s sake.

    NOBODY CARES ABOUT HER? even if, with this scandal she does not make any more movies, or even people stop visiting the place where she is, what will happen to her and the other elephants?

  35. Eddie McCormac says:

    Call me dumb, but elephants don’t stand on their head naturally…………

  36. Anita Murray Cooka says:

    I understand that these allegations may be a bit off. However, the training of any animal for entertainment is abuse to them. They have no way of fighting back and that is where we so called “extremists” come in. It is “extreme” to think that an animal is truly willing to provide us with entertainment. That in itself is a bald faced lie!!! They do not willingly do anything for “we” humans unless they of course love us and want to please. But to make them work for the millions of dollars that it puts in some one else’s pocket is the most “extreme” thing I have ever heard of. So when you get the “right” idea about “animal activist” then you talk, otherwise, you know no more about us than we know about the video of the abusive nature of Tai and the other elephants training. Only what “we” see, are you saying that our eyes are liars?? I think not!!!!!

  37. Rob's Bitch says:

    HTWT cannot deny that this video depicts exactly how they train Tai, (which they so obviously don’t even attempt to do in their statement) since this is how ALL entertainment elephants are trained. HTWT is part of the network of elephant exploiters who force wild animals to perform for profits. You get the elephants to fear the instruments with beatings or shocks, so when they are out in public they will obey commands in order to avoid the infliction of pain.

    There are many reasons why video footage is delayed in being released – someone who still works in the industry may fear retribution; they may not have found someone they trusted to release it to; they may not have thought anything was wrong at the time but became educated about what abuse is; many times footage needs to be verified or underfunded groups need to take advantage of the right time to release it to get the most attention for the animals in question.

    Regardless of why this footage wasn’t available in 2005 until now, it doesn’t remove the facts of how HTWT trains the elephants supposedly in their care.

    And yes, I am a Rob fan who also happens to be one of those “extremists” that wants to end the abuse and exploitation of all animals. I “extremely” want animals to stop being bred and captured for entertainment and profit. Even if Tai was taken to a spa every day for manis and pedis, she is STILL a captive wild animal being forced to perfrom in incredibly unnatural ways. To love elephants is to allow and assist them to survive in their wild environs, not paint them for Banksy exhibits or beat them into headstands.

    Speaking of films, I find it interesting that most people understand the ethical issues with a story like King Kong, where the ape is removed from the jungle and displayed for money by exploiters. Yet much of the public doesn’t get the connection with other performing animals in circuses and the entertainment industry or animals kept in zoos.

    The only place elephants outside of Asia or Africa should be is in a sanctuary (there are several in the US).

    It’s unfortunate that Rob didn’t know enough to make a different decision about his involvement in this film, but now that he has a relationship with Tai, hopefully he’ll become an effective advocate for elephants.

  38. Vickie says:

    At least some good may come out of this. If WFE hadn’t been made maybe this video would never have come to light. Who knows why a 6 year video is just now being released. Maybe something will now be done. I know the actors, crew and everyone associated with the film must be devestated. They all expressed love for Tai.

  39. Roy says:

    This statement is almost laughable in the face of video evidence. Laughable if it didn’t involve animal abuse. Because you spent 3 hours there, it did not happen?

    • tinkrbe1l3 says:

      What’s laughable is you coming on this fan blog and commenting about the poster not knowing anything about her or this site or how we could possibly be dealing with this information as FANS of Robert Pattinson and WFE. You’re a troll and that’s not only pathetic but LAUGHABLE.

  40. Janice says:

    Firstly, You guys have no idea how hard it is to film abuse and not be able to do anything about it. Even when you have the evidence, trying to get lawmakers to do anything if frustrating. If you want to change something long term you get evidence and then try to get legislation passed. It is a long drawn out process and sometimes can take more than 6 years. And even then, the bill fails because certain powerful people want to be able to do whatever they want. This abuse stuff happens all the time….behind the scenes, where no one can see it, and it is on a continual basis. One reporter or little starlet spending the “day” with Tai is not going to see anything! HTWT is not stupid…they do not stay in business by being truthful or honest about training methods. Their main motivation is making money and to do that they need to push using live animals in Hollywood not computer animation. Read how they let Tai be painted in Toxic paint as part of an art exhibit, or used in a stunt to be surrounded by a large soapy bubble as part of a publicity stunt. This is not “caring” about an elephant….they “whore” these animals out as a means to and end and that end it money. If you think this isn’t a long term issue, go back and read about how elephants have been treated in this country for years here http://www.roadsideamerica.com/pet/eleph.html
    something this movie is supposed to be about…screwed up people working with and taking their frustrations out on animals….it’s been going on for years people…educate yourselves about why this stuff goes on…because you allow it and you ignore it by making excuses for the people in entertainment who do it and condone it. No animal should have to suffer for entertainment….ever…period. If you support this movie and agree with the tactics used here…in 2005 or 2011…you are part of the problem. Change happens when people get fed up and stand up as a voice for the voiceless!

    • Rob's Bitch says:

      Thank you Janice. Why the keeping and breeding of wild animals in this country is LEGAL is mindboggling. It’s never about ethics and always about money.

  41. Janice says:

    Also believe me….there is a lot of video of elephant abuse that the public has never seen…but now with Youtube and the like….you’ll probably see it sooner or later and beleive it to be true or not.

  42. matthew clarke says:

    I’ve researched this for the past hour before commenting. ADI may be classed as extremist animal rights campaigners but the fact of the matter remains the welfare of these beautiful obedient animals. They are being constantly beaten in the video, poked and prodded and electricuted. you can tell they are scared stiff!! It is not possible for these people to say they have the best interest of the animals at heart.. Making them do those pathetic circus tricks – putting their bodies in such awkward positions. these people deserve the same to happen to them. Lets see if people say they are doing “a great job” then! Sad sad people. Using a beautiful loving creature and beating and abusing it for their own benefit. to line their own pockets.

  43. Shirlee says:

    I feel really sick about all this – even if a little of it is true and it happened 6 years ago. I also feel bad for the makers and actors in this movie – ADI could have just written an article about the farm that the animals were kept at instead of dragging the movie through the mud but I guess they wouldn’t have gotten the same amount of publicity, would they? Knowing Rob, he will demand to know the truth and will talk about it publicly if he finds out it is true, he is a real animal lover. I urge HTWT to tell the truth

  44. Cindy Wines says:

    I picketed in Tucson and PHoenix last year before each show by Ringling Bros. I spoke with a security guard who witnessed them being beaten right before they went on stage.
    It is so sad. I stood there AFTER each show with the posters asking the parents, “are you glad you brought your child to see sad, abused, scared animals” and they all either looked away or said they would never be back. Look at my website http://www.freetheelephants.com. It shows abused animals at the circus and it shows happy elephants at PAWS. It is also pathetic how they train the poor baby elephants who are ripped away from them mothers while they are still suckling. They tie them up, shock them, beat them to “break their spirit.” They usually get herpes or die because they are so distressed. The circus and HTW is NO place for elephants. Ban this movie, don’t go to the movie to endorse it or any circuses.

  45. John says:

    If your allegiance to Have Trunk Will Travel, you’re simply duped. Plain and simple. I could also be mistaken, but Jentrulyoutrageous, I’m pretty sure is working directly for Fox and spinning this revelation as best she can. If you were also a true elephant lover, this site is registered under proxy to GoDaddy.com. Some readers may remember he was just featured high fiving someone after gunning down an elephant that was hacked to pieces by “villagers.” Maybe Team Rosie might want to reconsider who’s making money off of this website.

    The following is off of whois.com

    Please note: the registrant of the domain name is specified
    in the “registrant” field. In most cases, GoDaddy.com, Inc.
    is not the registrant of domain names listed in this database.

    Domains by Proxy, Inc.

    Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)

    Domain servers in listed order:

    Stay tuned for more truth re; Have Trunk Will Travel and how Tai and the rest of their “family” is actually trained.

    • SmittenByaBrit says:

      Hey! Fuck Off Buddy! Caring about an elephant doesn’t mean you have any right to attack Jen! Get a life!

    • Laur says:

      Ya know, YOU disgust me. This is a FAN site, FANS who follow Rob P movies, as they will follow the next and next one, BACK OFF, there is NO agenda here at this site but too support Robs films they are not evil, his fans are not evil and YOU are harassing this site and the owners who are probably young girls.

      FYI Most Rob fans are young girls. Back off asshole!

    • tinkrbe1l3 says:

      I’ll repeat: John, we’ll take your donation to move our fansite via paypal. You can email us the contact information we should bill. You can locate our email address on the side bar. Thank you.

  46. John says:

    Dear Smittenbyabrit:

    Where was the attack on Jen? If it’s not true, it’s not true. If she’s running this fansite out of the goodness of her heart only and not paid by Fox to do it, then I would stand corrected. If you are all Team Rosie fans, know that this elephant that portrayed a character was treated in real life very similarly to the depiction in the film. The domain was created by proxy on Godaddy.com. The owner of go daddy just shot an elephant for sport. If you’re all fans of Rosie do the right thing. Make the changes. Change your perspective and stay tuned for more to come out.

    • Laur says:

      You need too stand corrected then, this site is FAN BASED only. Young girls run it, fans of Rob only. They are NO way affiliated with Fox you need too back off and THINK buddy because you might just find yourself in a bit of a pickle harassing here.

    • John, our domain was purchased for 2 years in January 2010 from GoDaddy. We will be transferring it to another vendor upon expiration. This site was created LONG before the GoDaddy CEO was exposed for shooting helpless elephants for sport. Since we are JUST FANS and not funded by Fox or anyone except ourselves, we cannot afford to relocate our blog until it expires next January. I don’t appreciate you seeking out my personal contact information via WHOIS database. Thank GOD I had the foresight to register a domain by proxy so that people behaving like stalkers would not be able to easily look me up from our fan site domain. This is a FAN SITE, we are just fans. Please take your fight to the appropriate audience – this situation is not one we can control or have any influence over.

    • tinkrbe1l3 says:

      John, we’ll take your donation to move our fansite via paypal. You can email us the contact information we should bill. You can locate our email address on the side bar. Thank you.

    • deb24601 says:

      “If she’s running this fansite out of the goodness of her heart only and not paid by Fox to do it, then I would stand corrected.” We are not paid by Fox. We are a fan site. Stand corrected, John, and take up your cause in the correct forum.

  47. Kim says:

    John the Stalker certainly has a wild imagination and lots of time on his hands.

  48. dahlia says:

    If that was actually abuse we were witnessing on that video, then ADI can and should show us the raw unedited footage rather than quick cuts, inserted context, and sad music.

  49. Justin says:

    It is a wise move to have used this footage now. Water for Elephants is currently rated No. 1 at the box office, which means this footage would have maximum impact. As people have stated, they have pretty much admitted that it is them by stating that it’s heavily edited. Have Trunk Will Travel, are obviously going into damage control over this revelation.

    Two reasons why I refused to watch this movie was the glorification of Circuses and performing animals. The knowledge that the main attraction was tortured into submission 6 years ago is yet another reason for me to avoid this.

    • tinkrbe1l3 says:

      WFE is NOT rated #1 at the box office and was NEVER #1 at the box office in ANY market. Why should I continue reading your comment when you start it with inaccuracies. Take your message to the proper forum.

    • Kim says:

      1- If you had watched the movie (or read the book), you would know it does not glorify the circus and performing animals… it does the very opposite! Get relevant information before you comment.
      2- I don’t think anyone who HAS NOT watched a movie is entitled to comment about it.
      3- Check your facts. WFE has never been #1 at the BO anywhere.

  50. Pingback: Top Posts — WordPress.com

  51. Sarah K says:

    So, is the poster of this article saying that the abuse didn’t take place? That the video is a fake? How can it be ‘alleged abuse’ when there is video evidence of actual abuse? Durrr…

  52. Sarah K says:

    Sorry, AND this website is affiliated with someone who SHOOTS elephants for fun??? Good God, poor Robert Pattinson has some seriously sick fans out there. He must be so embarrassed by all this. What a bunch of stupid little girls you must be if you think animal abuse is ok.

    • tinkrbe1l3 says:

      Who are you and why are you here? This is not the forum to spew your hate. No body posted animal abuse is ok. You are making ignorant assumptions and attaching them to us. We are fans of Robert Pattinson and the novel Water for Elephants. That is all. Read the comment above from Jen about GoDaddy. Would you care to fund the moving of our site? We don’t have the money to do so until the domain expires nor should we have to since this is not our day job. We blog on the film as a hobby. We’ll accept your donation via paypal since you have a problem with how we’ve handled the domain issue thus far.
      “Sick fans” and “stupid little girls”. Your ignorance shines. You nothing about this site and the people that run it or the people that have supported it for over a year.

  53. Bettybmusing says:

     The Movie WFE  from production date to release date was followed by thousands on the internet, blogs, videos, and pictures in the thousands. Popular magazines and TV shows interviews of the actors and other members of the cast starring in WFE. Where was this Organization ???? Where was the out cry ??? Where was the 2005 video ???? The ladies who created this site are here 24/7. They care about their project and are internationally recognized for their excellence and  tireless dedication to this site.This 2005 video’s sudden suspicious discovery is at best a shameful example of how this Humane organization  needs to piggy back on others( this site)to be heard. If that is the case then Tai is being “used” to perform on  more than one stage. Tai’s fame has now made her “worthy “as a high profile poster image for their cause? It took them six years to brain storm this marketing strategy. :-/ May I suggest these words to this Humane organization ” steadfast , dedicated, dependable, loyal and independent. Don’t wait another 6 yrs to mysteriously find another video, some animals won’t survive that long.

    God-Speed Tai, I am sure if this is true, Robert Reese and Waltz will seek additional information regarding this matter. They all are very fond of Tai and the other animals. Ladies who own this site, take care a God Bless.:-)

  54. meeko says:

    Much to my disappointment the video is real……..as is the cruel and inhumane training methods used. This place also sells elephants to circuses and we all know the hell they go through there. How sad it is when human beings are so motivated by the almighty dollar rather than compassion :-(

  55. rpartzgirl says:

    I’m so sorry the FAN blog & girls are being attacked…
    No doubt we all cry for Tai & all abused animals.. But this is a Robert Pattinson & WFE fan site.
    Use your anger in the right places & donate to stop abuse.
    Point fingers at the right people.

  56. Linda says:

    This is a fansite for Water for Elephants, not a venue for fanatics who want to use this venue as a podium for their cause…Take it to Washington DC if you are that convinced of the alleged abuse…Take your so called evidence with you.
    We are here to support our beloved movie not listen to the rants of those who are or not truly emotionally vested in this issue of Elephant abuse.
    I am not saying that this doesn’t happen, animal abuse has been a issue for generations.
    This is not the place to take a stand…

    Linda Hayes
    San Diego, CA

    • Bettybmusing says:

      I totally agree Linda.

    • Steffi says:

      I have to respectfully disagree. In its initial post, the blog did stand up in allegiance with HTWT. That forced all of us who supported the film and this sight to take a closer look at this allegation and decide whether or not we could also stand at HTWT’s side. The initial edited footage was enough to raise serious doubts. The extended footage that has since been released is appalling. It’s enough to make this viewer think that someone should grab a bull hook and electric prod and see if the woman trainer in the video feels they are humane training methods when used on her. The anger she unleashed on the elephants is so palpable it’s bloodcurdling. I, for one, am spitting mad right now. Not only at the trainers, but at myself for being naive enough to believe their “love and marshmallows” story.

      I have questions over the animal rights activists’ strategy, but I don’t doubt their commitment to truly helping the elephants. I applaud them for braving the anger of film fans to speak the troubling truth, and hope that WFE fans will stop shooting at them as the “messenger.”

      In like manner, activists need to realize that this fan site is not affiliated with nor a messenger for the film or Have Trunk Will Travel. It shouldn’t be lambasted for the support its moderators have shown for HTWT while they were unaware of any abuse. This blog was duped alongside the producers, makers, cast and crew of WFE. I imagine this has been a heart-wrenching revelation for them and my sympathies go out to them.

      But first and foremost, my thoughts are with the animals still in the “care” of HTWT. I think we should stop the finger pointing among ourselves and think of their well-being above all. Everyone will have to reevaluate their allegiances as well as the use of performing animals in the film industry. This is not the right forum to carry on that debate. This has been a painful learning experience for many Robert Pattinson fans, and I would imagine for him as well. I think it’s time for anyone feeling righteous anger to turn away from fan sites and focus their energies on constructive actions to ensure this type of abuse is stopped. Once and for all. And not only on a make-believe movie screen.

      To Jen, Tink, Deb and Jag: You have done wonderful work on this blog supporting Rob and Water for Elephants. You should wear your Team Rosie buttons proudly, because you have shown nothing but love for Tai and the other elephants in her family. I’m sorry this experience has been tainted by this scandal, but at least the making of WFE has helped reveal the training methods being inflicted on elephants by HTWT. And in my mind, that’s more important than any Hollywood film.

  57. Jazz_Girl says:

    So, for the good of the animals, ADI waited 6 years after the video was supposedly taken, 20 months after HTWT and Tai were announced to be involved with the film, almost a year past the END of principle photography, all the way through the lead-up promotional blitz, 3 weeks past the American premiere and into the international promotion before they stepped forward and said word one. Then, they don’t call for action against HTWT or any relief for Tai and her sisters, but for a boycott of the film? Hmmmmm, oh yes, that sounds like soooooo much concern for the welfare of Tai and the other animals.

    • Linda says:


      My applause to all those who see these fanatics for what they are. If they are so concerned, why are they here mouthing off, like I said, take your evidence and your concern to where it will do the most good. Not a venue for people who are fans of the movie…That is what this site is about…

  58. gemmajean says:

    Animal Abuse is something that I do NOT take lightly and I know most people are with me. I am a vegetarian have been one for 16 years and have also been a member of PETA. I’m just stating these facts so you know where I am coming from.
    A good friend/colleague of mine used to work at ‘Wild Things’ a place that is very similar to ‘Have Trunk Will Travel’ . We watched the video together and here is what he told me: While the video is very disturbing it is also manipulated. Its choppy at parts and some of the noises you here are dogs not elephants. With the success of WfE and the attention, a group is using this as an opportunity to spread the word that abuse does happen. Sadly most people are just going to assume that this is Tai and her handlers. Its not and it is manipulated. While I’m not a fan of animals being used for entertainment (I do not like Sea World, or traditional cirucuses) I feel like this is very wrong for this group to do. Very serious allegations need to be researched and not manipulated. I’m so sorry that this happened for HTWT, WfE and of course to any animals that are in that horrible situation.

  59. John says:

    I understand that you’re all Robert Pattinson and WFE fans. That keeps being repeated. As fans, you should help and protect Robert. So, how bout asking him to take a stand for the real Rosie — Tai.
    You also seem dubious about the footage. It’s been denounced as heavily edited with an agenda, etc. Well, here’s more, some would say worse footage in long unedited form. This site also states on other pages that Tai’s human mom loves her, Tai belongs to a family, etc. Well, I don’t know about you, but in Tai’s family, the humans beat and hit the elephants (even infant elephants) and use electric shocks to get them to “make” paintings, raise their legs, run in circles, do headstands (like in the movie) and on and on. Here’s the proof. You keep saying this isn’t the place for agendas or whatever else, but when you google water for elephants, movie, or anything else, this site turns up. Also, the pages are festooned with depictions of Rosie, how wonderful HTWT is, how great they are to their elephants etc. Like I said, if you’re fans of Rob’s, ask him to decry this abuse and how he and Reese Witherspoon were apparently duped to agree to appear in this film.
    If you don’t believe me, watch the latest footage. http://vimeo.com/23564589


  60. JT says:

    The movie producers are trying to cover their own behinds, but the fact is they could not have been watching the treatment of the elephant during filming 24/7. The abuse happens when no one is watching, so for them to say they’re blameless is infuriating. I have refused to see the movie because I’ve heard about the suffering elephant. Little did I know that it may not have been movie magic. Sickening. Wild animals simply do not belong in entertainment. Someday we’ll evolve as a society and see how depraved circuses, zoos, and marine parks can be behind the scenes.

  61. Pingback: Water for Elephants in boycott call | an online community for elephant ambassadors

  62. Bettybmusing says:

    Perhaps I need to research the term cyber-bully.

    Getting personal information about fansites then forwarding that information to others, or worse, posting for everyone to see online in attempt to defame and point fingers at innocent young ladies. 

    If this is one the Organization supposedly in place to protect animals like Tai, it’s easy to see why this Organization is a complete and utter failure. They spend most of their time online harassing innocent fan sites.

    I think I read a quote:
     Quote : If there was truly any abuse going on why wait six minutes, much less six years? – Have Trunk Will Travel

  63. Anabel says:

    This is my first time posting here, although I am a steady follower of Robsessed as Ihadalifeb4Rob (hello Tink!). I don’t post there often because English is not my first language. I’m a Rob fan but I had issues with this film (not the book, it’s beautiful) since the beginning precisely because of the fact that they were to use animals to perform, thus mirroring exactly what the book dennounced (not during the preparation of the film or the actual filming, but during the training). I love Rob and I think he’s a compassionate and caring human being; I’ve seen many interviews, particularly the one with Ellen DG, where he says he loves animals and he feels more comfortable around animals than around people. My guess (because I only know of him what he lets out in public) is that if he had been more aware about the abuse wild animals suffer in captivity in order to perform – the abuse, the stress, the pain, the unnatural life they live, cut off from the lives they should live, specially elephants who are extremely social beings -he would have chosen differently. I’m not calling for boycotting the film, but for us fans to help spread the word and act to stop animal abuse. I’m writing this post from a place of respect and hopefully will be seen as such. I have volunteered for animal organizations for years, and I volunteeres and worked as well as for organizations against domestic violence. Violence is ugly and violence is violence no matter where it happens and should have not place in this world. Maybe Water for Elephants will ultimately become instrumental for the change, much bigger than a mere film, and because of it Rob will start engaging actively in a worthy cause, lending his presence and his voice (and what a voice!) to make the world know about the plight of captive wild animals. Many thanks from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to express my view about this issue. Love to you all fellow Robsessed

  64. Dee says:

    To Jen, Tink and Deb. I’m so sorry all of this has been brought down on your beautiful site. All of the hard work and love you’ve put into it for over a year now shouldn’t be marred by all of this. You have given us a wonderful place to come to share our love for a boy, a book, a movie and Tai. It makes me so sad to see this happen once again in the fandom. Boy they sure do come out of the woodwork don’t they…like sharks smelling blood.

    As far as the abuse of course we all feel horribly about it as it’s come to light.It’s heartbreaking for all of us. It’s just interesting to me that the protesters weren’t out in droves during the making of the movie. Maybe I’m wrong but I think we would have seen that. The fans found the location why didn’t they?

    Again, I would never ever condone abuse but this isn’t the forum for this hostility. Take the debate somewhere else where it’s more productive and let us go back to our love of the movie and Tai. If nothing else good comes from this I hope at least the video has made more of us aware. It’s all very sad.

    Girls again, great job in bringing us this FAN SITE.

    • Linda says:

      I am so thank ful for your post…I have been wondering if there were monitors for this site that would/could weed out the “haters” and wanna be “animal activists.” There is a place for everything and if those who genuinely fear for these beautiful animals, please take your issues to the proper authorities, not to a fan site for the actors (human or animal) and the movie…

      Linda Hayes
      San Diego, CA

      • Janice says:


        Unfortunately what you don’t realize is it is people like you and movie “fans” in general who will decided the fate of animals used like this in entertainment. If you support movies like this using live animals then you support the abuse they go through to bring you this “entertainment”. What is unfortunate is that you and other fans feel attacked for supporting this movie and for that I am sorry. I know you didn’t wittingly wish to be a part of this controversy. I used to go to movies where animals were used and was blissfully ignorant about how they were trained and then I had my eyes opened. Now I work to educate others and it is not easy…people get very upset and emotional and I understand that….but my main issue is I love these animals…and they should not be poked and prodded and mistreated to “entertain”…I’m sure you would agree on that? Have Trunk Will Travel needs to answer some questions…they will not answer when we ask them…they issue statements that do not answer the questions…if publicity is the only way to get abusive handlers to stop abusing then I guess that is the way it is….but no one cares until it becomes and issue…no one cares until it affects them personally…so I ask you honestly…do you want to support people who do this sort of thing and then act like it’s all okay? They don’t even deny it happens…they just say they “stand by their methods”…do you?

  65. naturaladdict says:

    Ok, I admittedly have been out of the loop for a while and I rarely rant, but I came across this post/video today, read many of the comments and my rant button is on full now. Where to begin?

    Firstly, I am so angry to the a-holes that come and comment on this blog, run by these lovely women who I have followed for a while and consider friends to be attacked in this manner. They have worked hard on this blog for the book sake, before it was even attached to Fox, and as far as it having affliation to GoDaddy and the CEO’s activities, who even knows these things, except people with way too much time on their hands. I know these ladies love and care for animals and have no agenda with HTWT or any other organization besides the contact they have inadvertantely had by their love for Robert Pattinson, in turn the production of this movie from a lovely book and all that involved that. I personally feel for you ladies for getting all this crap thrown at you, and wish I could smite these folks that are giving you this shit.

    Second of all, for the stalker and his “since you are fans of Robert, why don’t you protect him and have him become an advocate in this fight” or whatever blahblah he said (my eyes were burning red by the time I reached that part), from following Rob how I have, I think I can say with a good amount of certainty that when Rob catches wind of this and verify the validity, I am sure he will have a reaction, as will the other actors and the author Sara Gruen whom seems to love animals from her writing and actions. Which brings me to the “boycott Water for Elephants because the people that trained the elephants 6 years ago were abusing them, but admittedly the people involved in making the film knew nothing of the abuse and believed the animals to be treated with care and respect”. The actions/punishments should be solely on the abusers. Have these people even read the book, definitely not seen the movie?? They both explore the terrible way the animals were treated and the protaganists efforts to help the animals and give them a better life and treat them with the care and respect they deserve. It shows how these animals have intelligence and grace and personality and if you cross them, it is to your own peril. If anything, the message that this movie sends works FOR the animal activists, but not against it. As others have mentioned, I think these people calling for a boycott of the movie, rather than a rescue attempt of Tai and her family and prosecution of HTWT have a different agenda.

    So in recap, I am totally sick to my stomach to hear of the abuse and the complete two-faced people that have caused this abuse, that is the sick world we live in. And yes, something needs to be done about it, and yes we need to do something for those who can’t stand up for themselves. But for one, attacking the ladies that run this fan blog is just spreading hate, and for another, attacking a movie that makes the same points that the activists are spouting makes no sense either.

    Hope this comes across intelligible, I’ve been sick and sleep deprived and now red eyed with anger. But hopefully you all get my point. Abusing animals is evil. Stupid people without facts attacking those not responsible suck more. Call a spade a spade, and don’t take something good and turn it into shit just because you don’t know how to create change.

    Rant off.

  66. JA says:

    It seems such a waste of time….trolling websites “to bring awareness” of elephants being abused. I’m not saying they were or weren’t. That has yet to be determined. But If *I* were so passionate about believing they were, as some of these people claim to be, I’d be out there DOING something, not sitting behind a computer for the past 3 days TYPING about it. Go volunteer at a shelter. Go help some animals that need love and attention. Go adopt a dog that’s getting prepped to be euthanized in the next 30 min. Hell, even go picket a theater if you feel so strongly about it. If Animal Defenders is telling you people to visit fan sites…then you need a new leader.

  67. Janice says:

    Were or weren’t uh did you watch the video? Clearly there was abuse…and as for methods of educating…it is part of my job…which requires the investigation of all avenues…I am not attacking the women who run this blog…they are not the issue…the issue is a system that allows this kind of thing to happen in the first place. But you of the general public never get to see the truth of it all. Then when you see the truth….you don’t want to know it…you want to get mad and people like me for showing it to you? Why?
    ” We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
    ~Elie Wiesel~

  68. Janice says:

    I would like to add that I love movies just like the rest of you. I don’t want to fight with people I would probably like very much. It’s just that when I discovered years ago that horses were actually killed while filming westerns (had legs broken, one was run over a cliff etc.) I was horrified this was happening and there were no laws against it. Also note that AHA has no legal authority on a movie set, they are there just so the movie can get that statment at the end of the movie…but they seldom do or see anything anyway. There are stories I could go on an on about…things I’ve seen…things I know. It is sometimes necessary for ranting and raving about and issue in many places before anything gets done about it. It is uncomfortable knowing uncomfortable things. But I look at an elephant like Tai and I see how sweet she is…and I just want this abuse to stop…for her..and for all elephants like her that are trapped in such an existence. In no way did that elephant deserve to be hit at all. I think you would all agree with me on that. So forgive me for invading your blog….I meant no harm.

    • Jennifer says:

      A lot of us are against Have Trunk Will Travel and are angered and outraged at this. But why bring down a movie, that, if it hadn’t been made with one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, wouldn’t have brought the videos of abuse to light? That makes no sense to me. Everyone’s crying “boycott the movie, boycott the movie!” when all it did was bring all of this out for everyone to see.

    • naturaladdict says:

      Not to unleash my venom on you particularly Janice, but no one here is happy to find out Tai was being abused by her trainers. We all have followed Tai’s journey and have grown to love her very much. It is disgusting what HTWT has done, the whole point is, this movie/actor/fan blog is not the forum to dish out the anger. Also, the fact that venom is being unleashed at the good women who run this blog who have nothing to do with HTWT or Fox or anything and are getting accused of things and yelled at and treated with complete disrespect is also in complete fault. Also the fact that the movie is the center of the assault is also wrong. It is true that the success of the movie has brought these folks out of the woodwork, where were they 6 years ago? 2 years ago? 6 months ago? Where were they when the movie was filming, when HTWT became involved, where was the outrage for the elephants then? It is awfully suspicious of their motives talking about boycotting the movie rather than trying to gain support for the cause from fans of the movie and fanbase. Ever heard of catching more flies with vinegar than honey? If you read my post above you would see that the whole film/storyline is against cruelty to animals, ironic as it may be, it can be used as an advantage not as a boycott.

      That is what people in this forum are up in arms about, none of us are happy about animal abuse, we aren’t covering our eyes with our fingers in our ears, pretending it isn’t there. But it has a place and a method and attacking the innocent runners of this fan blog, and the film itself is not it.

  69. Brooke Lee says:

    I believe some people are simply posting here to make others aware of the cruel treatment by the company that trains the elephant in THIS film. That is the relevance of these comments. If you watch the horrific videos of the “Have Trunk Will Travel” trainers, you can understand the frustration of any and all who viewed them and their desire to spread the word. And whether the videos were filmed 6 years or 6 minutes ago, you can bet that the beautiful elephant in this very film and countless others have experienced beatings at the hands of the trainers.

    And honestly, the people saying “it is an edited” video and has no value because of that truly baffle me…So only several minutes are released and in those several minutes we are supposed to ignore the horrific things going on because it is “edited”?? We should ignore the parts where they put hooks in the elephant’s mouths, beat their legs repeatedly with sticks, drag baby elephants by their trunk (including an elephant identified as the star of THIS movie) since it is “edited”?!! Because I am sure the full version is SO much better- you know HOURS of beatings. Wake up.

    • Kim says:

      Why is this video released NOW? When it should have been released the minute it was made?
      Whatever the reason, this timing remains suspect to everyone and there’s no way to explain it. The cause might be just, the means that are used to promote it are not, and the reactions are unforgivable (call to boycott the movie, trollling a fan site, insulting people). It does not shed a very favourable light on animals defenders who now appear like mere manipulators and very aggressive.
      If WFE had been a small, independent and not very successful film with no big names attached, you can bet we would not have seen the video.
      Even if this association is defending a good cause, it is obviously using the movie’s success as a platform.
      The movie was launched in production last year, ut was heavily publicized, there was a big buzz and it was known that the elephants and real animals would be used. This is when this organisation should have stepped in. Where were they??

      • jainem says:

        Your reaction is the very reason why it wouldn’t matter when this video was released, even after watching these HTWT elephants being hit, hooked and shocked, you are finding excuses to deny it because it wasn’t released immediately.
        Did you look at the pictures that were took around 2002 by a Ringling Bros elephant trainers but not released until 2009 showing Ringling Bros Circus trainers roping, hooking, stabbing and shocking baby elephants to train them to perform circus tricks? http://www.ringlingbeatsanimals.com/bound-babies.asp
        Did you read the Ringling Bros. elephant trainer’s story about what happens to these elephants behind closed doors?
        Well, it is now 2011 and the circus industry is still abusing their elephants and calling it wholesome family entertainment.
        The movie just brought to the forefront, that circus elephant abuse is still alive and well in the 21st century. The Johnson’s kept bragging about the excellent and humane care they provide their elephants and the video showed they were lying.

      • jainem says:

        Your reaction is the very reason why it wouldn’t matter when this video was released, even after watching these HTWT elephants being hit, hooked and shocked, you are finding excuses to deny it because it wasn’t released immediately.
        Did you look at the pictures that were took around 2002 by a Ringling Bros elephant trainers but not released until 2009 showing Ringling Bros Circus trainers roping, hooking, stabbing and shocking baby elephants to train them to perform circus tricks? Did you read the Ringling Bros. elephant trainer’s story about what happens to these elephants behind closed doors? A search of the Internet and you can read his statement and see the baby elephants being abused.
        Well, it is now 2011 and the circus industry is still abusing their elephants and calling it wholesome family entertainment.
        The movie just brought to the forefront, that circus elephant abuse is still alive and well in the 21st century. The Johnson’s kept bragging about the excellent and humane care they provide their elephants and the video showed they were lying.

  70. Janice says:

    I understand your anger NA and I don’t agree with attacking the owners of this blog or venue. I think this venue actually opens this sort of thing up to a great dialogue between people. The problem is getting people to discuss it intelligently with all the facts without getting hysterical. In no way is ADI trying to ruin people’s enjoyment of a good time…it’s just that in this business..it is very hard to get anyone to acknowledge that something is wrong. All of you here should know….before production even started on this movie, elephant experts from all over the world wrote a letter to the production company asking, pleading, with them to use CGI (Computer Graphics) instead of a real elephant…it was possible and we have all seen great computer generated animals that work well….but the people who work with elephants day in and day out and know the most about them, from the wild and in captivity…were told “nevermind” they had already decided with HTWT. HTWT is very effective at marketing themselves with the movie industry, and Tai has been in a lot of films. ADI has been compiling undercover video for years as part of a larger investigation regarding animals used in entertainment. They had other plans, but when they kept hearing the constant platitudes about how Tai was treated so well and only did these tricks out of love…well that became a little much. Have Trunk will Travel will rent their elephants out to do anything…weddings…stunts (I mentioned them painting Tai with paint that was later removed because it was considered toxic) but no one says anything. And getting undercover video for those of you who have never done it….is very, very, very difficult. At one point in the second videos that were released today you can hear the trainer yell “Don’t you film me hookin ‘em”! She knows people would no look at that with approval….that’s the thing…they know their training is horrible and rough on the elephants…they don’t want anyone seeing that….geez just recently people tried to get congress to make it illegal to film abuse on farms etc….why? Because they don’t want the general public to know what goes on. I want to know…and I make it my business to know…because animals cannot speak for themselves….but there are forces at work a lot more powerful than I…who wish I would be quiet…and not tell anyone anything…the thing I wonder now…is does the general public care enough to do anything about it? Like I said….the producers had a chance from the get go to use an alternative method…and they didn’t…King Kong was not a real animal in that movie but it got the point across….the point is…our relationship with animals is sacred and should be regarded as such….they don’t ask for much…just our help once in a while…I just answer by asking you all to help me help them. If this is a bad idea I apologize…but it’s a start I guess. You are all good people here…I just want to know…knowing what you now know….does it make a difference to you?

  71. naturaladdict says:

    I can only speak for myself, and I will admit that I don’t know everything about all the things happening to animals or people for that matter around the world. I know people can be really cruel. I almost couldn’t make it through “The Cove” about the mass murder of dolphins in Japan. I am not sure if I agree about the CGI in the movie being just as good, it is definitely different than real animals, but if it is a difference between animals being abused and a loss in the “realness” in a film, I would go CGI everytime. After I heard all about Rob’s experience with Tai, I don’t know if you have heard him talk about her, I fell in love with her and made me even more excited about seeing the interaction. He talks about how working with her was such as amazing experience and how amazing elephants are. I know when he learns of this, if he hasn’t already, he will be as upset as the rest of us.

    I find it sad that it has tainted the movie in this way, but if it can bring awareness and retribution to the abusers, then I am glad for that. That is why I don’t understand the call to boycott the film. You might have noticed, Rob has a loyal fan base, and we are fighters and we defend those who are being wronged. So wouldn’t it make more sense to get that force to create change rather than breakdown the reason for us being brought together in the first place? Get the fan base to get Fox to donate a certain percentage of the ticket sales to agencies to protect animals, rather than trying to destroy a well intended project?

    I know there is a lot of evil in the world, I know everyday there are animals being abused, heck people being abused, killed, mistreated, beaten and treated like dirt. I was even a vegetarian for several years until my health and my inability to eat a healthy diet without meat protein started to suffer. My kids get mad at me cause I won’t take them to the circus, and had trouble taking them to the zoo until they built a huge elephant enclosure that takes up the entire center of the zoo and got the elephant living there some companions. (I live in Los Angeles, and I am sure you are aware of the big debate about the one elephant in the small enclosure.) I know how chickens are killed, and cows, but I still eat at McDonalds and El Pollo Loco on occasion and I loved Water for Elephants. If this makes me a bad person, a hypocrite, an “enabler”, then I guess I am. I do the best I can in my little bubble, tell my kids how every life is precious and how you never hit and always have to respect all people and animals, even insects.

    I just don’t want to see my friends being attacked for something they had no control or part in and a movie and those involved being destroyed because there are evil people in this world.

    Ok, I’m getting off my soapbox now and going to let my daughter play Club Penguin before some violence against moms starts.

  72. Janice says:

    Also, I wanted to mention that if you do a search on Yahoo for “Have Trunk Will travel”…this website comes up third in the search list…..it’s how I found it days ago.

    • IAmMelissa says:

      I intend to comment further on the issues in this thread (still trying to wrap my thoughts and feelings around everything), but in response to this particular comment by Janice: I am not sure what this has to do with any of the issues discussed here. Search engine results and the way they occur is a very convoluted process. If your comment was meant to be snarky (like saying FYI in an exaggerated tone), then I feel compelled to answer.

      The women who have dedicated themselves to this site have NO control over search engine results. They have given nothing but love, time and energy to this FAN site. This includes the numerous LOVING posts written about Tai. Consequently, Have Trunk Will Travel (hereafter known as H*W*) has been mentioned in previous posts on this site.

      A simplified reason the search results occurred has more to do with timing (e.g., fresh content – including the news about H*W* and comments in this thread). H*W* has been mentioned numerous times in this thread alone. Search engines LOVE picking up keywords/phrases in blogs/forums. This results in higher search ranking. Prior to the latest news about them, H*W* was likely not mentioned very often by other websites other than H*W*’s own site. So even ONE mention on this site about H*W* would make this site appear high up in the search results.

      Here ends today’s rather verbose lesson on search engine results.

      Long comment short – let’s keep comments directed to the pertinent issue(s) and to those that the ladies who run this site actually have some control over.

  73. Janice says:

    NA I pretty much agree with you on everything you said. I don’t want to fight people like you but like you I will fight for what I beleive in. I do like what you said about the film company donating proceeds. That would be nice. I have read what Mr. Pattison said about his relationship with Tai. But he only saw the side he was allowed to see. I don’t think elephants understand why they get hit…but I do think they remember when they are treated nicely. She probably liked Rob a lot. He genuinely loved her as I’m sure you do too. That’s what makes the truth so egregious. And as you say you are aware of things but you travel in a different world than I do…I learn the most terrible things sometimes, stuff I don’t want to know. But once I get the info…what do I do with it? It’s hard…because I know usually people don’t want bad news….yet they love to watch Real Housewives? Don’t know what’s up with that. I think the women who have done this blog have done a good job…and your right…they don’t deserve to be blindsided by unfolding events. We all have such different lives and believe me…mine does not consist of going on blogs and attacking people. But I do think people should be aware…so we can all make informed choices. I choose not to go see films or any “acts” that use live animals…because I know what goes on behind the scenes. But I do not wish to purposely hurt people’s feelings or make them uncomfortable. I actually wanted to believe that Tai was treated well….it would’ve made everyone so much happier…including Tai. But…I do believe that Have Trunk Will Travel Dupes people into that thinking….that is part of their marketing. It is done well….unfortunately we all know now, it is not the truth. I think we can all work together to change things…none of you, including the starts of this film knew the truth, but now we know…and it will be interesting to see how this goes. I can only hope that different choices will be made in the future about using live animals in films. Thanks for you feedback NA…and everyone…your a good group here…I can see that:-)

    • naturaladdict says:

      Well if WFE can end up being a vehicle to stop elephant abuse and become a champion for elephants I would like that and I think Tai would like that too.

    • dash says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful intelligent discourse. I have never participated in a blog before today because I can’t stand the way people verbally attack each other and its nice to see some people expressing themselves passionately without feeling the need to attack. As sad and devastating as this all is there needs to be conversations about “entertainment animals” and our participation in the industry. Now we need to figure out how to prevent this from happening in the future.

  74. IAmMelissa says:

    I was going to respond to what has been said on this thread. However, in my shock and sadness, I was somewhat at a loss as to what to write. However, in several comments she made, naturaladdict said it for me. Thank you for saying so well and intelligently what most of the fans of this site are thinking (and probably also wanted to say).

    In summary:

    To those (any and all) that abused Tai (or any animal for that matter), you disgust me. Hopefully what goes around comes around.

    To those that have been venomous in their comments to the wonderful ladies that created this site, don’t let the door hit you in the…What you are doing is called verbal abuse. Nobody on this site deserves it or will tolerate it.

    To those that call for a Water for Elephants boycott, who is supposed to get that message? The movie has already been made. The majority of people that are going to see it in the theatres have already seen it. The people (stars, director, production crew, etc.) involved in the movie had no knowledge of or control over what happened to Tai in the past. Plus, if anything, the movie (and book) creates a love and a want of protectiveness for elephants. A boycott is counterproductive.

    To those that want to raise awareness and advocacy about the issue, there are smart (and productive) ways to do that. Accusations and attacks are not it. As you can see from this thread, it only begets defensiveness and anger. Done in a smart way, you will likely get champions for the cause. Thanks to the ladies who brought this site to life, most, if not all, of the fans of this site have a very soft spot for Tai.

    As for myself…my eyes have certainly been opened. The onus is on me to make whatever positive difference I, as a single voice or part of a group, can make.

    Last (but not least), to the dedicated and amazing women that lovingly created and nurtured this site, thank you. It was truly my honor to meet you at the premiere. I know you are devastated by the news (and some of the nasty comments you received). Fans have seen the numerous posts and know how much you love Tai. I am sorry you have been dragged through this.

  75. Jennifer says:

    Wow. Hopefully many great things will come out of this. When I watched the film I thought what a great job they did with the location and scenery. And, I remember thinking how beautiful it was, but it oddly it made me grateful that I didn’t live in that era (other than the beautiful clothes). Such a rough time period with so many financial burdens and limited opportunity. And I distinctly remember telling my friends afterwards that at least in our time we do better by animals. The irony is palpable. I’ve seen the second video that was released and as I’ve stated before there’s no doubt in my mind that the trainers of Have Trunk Will Travel clearly atrociously abused their elephants to learn tricks. And, that poor baby elephant…there are no words! I was sooo naive! I think most of us were. Tai, their star attraction is the bread and butter of Have Trunk Will Travel. The statement released by them is painfully lacking in denial. Hopefully, not just me, but others are aware and something can be done to close the doors on Have Trunk Will Travel. If those two things happen then I’m at peace. (Thank you for posting comments. I can tell this website was created for your love of Robert and the film. I don’t know much about Robert, but from what I’ve read I don’t think he would have signed on knowing that Tai was abused to learn tricks whether that be two weeks prior to filming or ten years ago).

  76. Daniel says:

    Here is my problem with the whole thing. If they could simulate Tai being abused for the movie, why couldn’t the producers just simulate an elephant? I mean they do it for science fiction movies all the time. There are not real space ships in Star Wars/

    I am not an animal activist, but abusing these animals even in short snippets as Have Elephant Will Travel states is just morally repugnant. I would like to see the trainers have short snippets of abuse to see how they like it.

    The producers of this movie and the stars have a duty to speak on behalf of Tai to ensure that Have Elephant Will Travel never sees another dollar from another film again.

    I am sick that I spent money to see this movie now.

  77. Janice says:

    I think we have common ground here. You guys are an intelligent group of people who all come together over a commonly shared love for movies. I respect that, and while I don’t doubt the movie was well done as a whole, the issue is, would people like yourself have still gone to the movie if they had used a CGI elephant? Would that have made a difference to you? I have seen much more abuse of these beautiful creatures than I care to have experienced in my lifetime….but I have also seen regular people like yourselves…make a huge difference in an animals life simply by standing up for them. I have seen elephants removed from bad situations and put into better ones where they flourish. It’s good for the soul to see that. And it’s regular people like you guys who make that happen. People like ADI gather the info, their motivation is not money or “celebrity” as some will have you think. They are motivated by injustice. But I know how easy it is to categorize people as “extremists” and be dismissive about the evidence gathered. I sort of wanted to see this film because of the message…which I think is how love heals all…sort of? I don’t know…but I do agree with NA….maybe now this movie can be a catalyst for change…if you all want that? The thing about Have Trunk Will Travel is that they are a business…Tai is for want of a better word…is a product they sell….how they prep that product is their business in their opinion. However…you…as the movie going public…can send a clear message about what you think of their methods. If an “extremist” in this country is someone who draws attention to an injustice and tries to prevent further injustices….well then I guess I’m an extremist in that regard. I think we can all be “extremist” at one time or another in our lives. ADI is a great organization…they rescued a bunch of animals from Bolivia that otherwise would probably have been left to starve to death. They are good people too….trying to right injustices to animals. I fully support them in their work. Whether you want to or not is up to you. I feel I have been very well treated on this board and you all have shown me great respect by allowing me to come here an express myself and I am grateful for that. Perhaps some people feel differently. If you look back on any film that used live animals in it you will find back stories about how the animals were treated and sometimes died during filming of a movie. I just think now is a time where we can all agree that these animals need protection and better monitoring. If we all stand up and say this is unacceptable then perhaps something can be done in our lifetimes:-) Thank you all!

    • Jennifer says:

      My eyes are opened. Honestly, I feel like an idiot for thinking elephants could be trained to do unnatural and uncomfortable tricks with treats only. Your comments were reasonable, thoughtful and compassionate. Hopefully, the Johnsons will not walk away unscathed, but more importantly I would love to see all their elephants removed and placed at a sanctuary. HTWT has made soo much money off of Tai. She’s endured enough and she and the others need to be set free.

      Also, I wish more effort was made by the American Humane Association to monitor companies that supply animals to films. They seem to be all over the set, but from what I’ve read they do very little to monitor training facilities. Hollywood is a very small town and Have Trunk Will Travel has been accused of abuse before, but nothing was done. So, if I were AHA I’d be all over companies that don’t come up clean.

      WFE has a beautiful message and here’s hoping we do something with it.

      • jainem says:

        I wrote AHA and got a reply back, they see their job as to make sure the animals are treated humanely on the movie set. What happens off the movie set they aren’t responsible for.
        As far as I’m concerned their association is worthless, and in the future if I see AHA approval, I’ll ignore it.

  78. Pingback: Animal rights group shows new video | HollywoodDaily.us

  79. Pingback: Water for Elephants trainers in new cruelty video claims | HollywoodDaily.us

  80. Cat says:

    I´m, not going to watch this movie!
    You people should be ashamed for using animals, for taking them out of their natural life, just to earn money with a “spectacular movie”. I feel ashamed for the human race, everytime I know about animal violation, that´s just disgusting!!

    • Kim says:

      Well, don’t watch it, it will certainly not prevent us from watching it again and again. And if you want to do something useful, why are you commenting here on a movie fan site? You had better write to HTWT for example.
      People commenting here to say they’re not going to watch the movie and/or advising us to boycott the movie are wasting their time. Plus, having someone telling me what I should do makes me want to do exactly the opposite.

      • jainem says:

        Just remember each and every time you watch this movie that in the scenes where Tai is mistreated and abused, those scenes are for real in her every day life at HTWT.
        The book was great, but when the movie came out I had no desire to see the elephant I loved beaten on the movie screen to entertain me.

      • Joe says:

        Why can nobody respond to posts by Janiem? In response to Janiem’s post below…Have you been to the HTWT facilities? Have you seen first hand how Tai and the other elephants are treated? Have you seen the facilities where these elephants live? Based upon your post below I would bet the farm that you have not.

      • JudeLawGuardian says:

        Sorry, 10-year old Kim. I realize you’re a belligerent little thing who’s reasoning is typical of a pre-teen. You’re also too ignorant to realize that the majority of people on this “movie fan site” are on the opposite side of your opinion–so basically this means that even people who might have watched this movie DON’T LIKE elephants being used/abused for the sake of human entertainment. Now go in your corner and pout some more about it…

  81. Cat says:

    I just want to refer, when I say “you people” I´m referring to the movie staff.

  82. Leslie says:

    Abuse or not, as has already been suggested, these animals were not put on this earth for human entertainment. They should be put in a sanctuary, where they can live out the remainder of their lives, in natural surroundings. End of story. This cannot be argued under any circumstance. For the individual who thinks that boycotting a movie isn’t the answer, you are wrong. Any event being boycotted draws attention to the issue at hand – in this case, possible animal abuse. Look at the attention being given on this web site alone. Keep up the boycott people, and keep fighting for animal rights.

    • Kim says:

      I love it when people like you who think they know better than anyone tell me that I am wrong. People like you – who think they have the ultimate truth, and that we must all think and act like you say. One more reason NOT to think along your lines and NOT to do what you say.
      Oh, and about the boycott. What boycott ?? Helloooo… ? Epic fail by the way. Wake up and see the numbers. 98 $M worldwide. You see, people love the film and this is something you cannot do anything about, ever. So for each and every person who gives me an answer like yours (“you are so wrong and I am so right”), I will send one more person to watch the film. :)
      The only ones who will eventually get boycotted will be the boycotters and their associations, and they have asked for it.

      • jainem says:

        The Producers of this movie were sent a letter back in April 2010 by elephant experts from all over the world, asking them not to use real elephants in this movie and all the reasons why, but they chose to ignore the evidence.
        The only good that can come from this movie is now people will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Tai was in fact abused to make her perform and to entertain you.
        Take all your friends so they can see that circus elephants abuse is alive, well and promoted as entertainment.
        Your immature attitude came across loud and clear.

      • JudeLawGuardian says:

        No kidding. Kim’s got to be all of 10 or 12 years old, tops.

      • Amelia Ellen C. says:

        Kim, your reply is asinine. It is NOT ABOUT YOU!!!! A) The animals were not put on this earth to be our entertainment; B) the elephants in this film belong with a herd in the wild not on a film set and not as “property’ that belongs to HTWT; C) HTWT had BETTER be taking extremely good care of these majestic animals that should be in the wild; D) no matter how you slice it, the fact that they are not in their natural setting doing the things they are supposed to be doing but traveling with these people IS WRONG!!! And another thing… how did they get trained to do what they do, how do they know where to go and how to act, how did they get to be so apparently well-behaved??? They were abused, tortured and torn from their natural home and the herd they belonged in. And, despite their claims of loving them and treating them so well, what is it that Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful Elephant Parents have in their hands? An A-#1 torture device otherwise known affectionately as a “bull hook.”
        So keep right on believing that everything is beautiful in fairytale world and that because you want to believe that they weren’t tortured then it didn’t happen.

        This is similar to the way all elephants are trained. The methods are the same. I personally wouldn’t call it kind or treating them well or anything other than abuse, torture, cruelty.
        Keep boycotting!

      • JudeLawGuardian says:

        I love it when people like you believe all the crap you’re fed by companies like HTWT. Well, hate to burst your bubble, honey, but HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOO! A LOT of fairs are now boycotting HTWT. EPIC FAIL on YOUR part. More and more are dropping them every year for elephant rides, including our fair last year. Our local zoo ALSO put an end to their association. As did several other county fairs here.

        As more people realize that ELEPHANTS DO NOT BELONG IN CIRCUSES AS ATTRACTIONS, less and less will show up to support the cruelty. GUESS WHAT? NO ONE is boycotting the zoos OR the fairs. So WAKE UP and get a clue–most everyone else certainly is. You see, most people are not as ignorant as you, and they are becoming aware that ELEPHANTS DON’T BELONG IN ZOOS OR SHOWS. They will stop going to see things like captive elephants AND THIS IS SOMETHING YOU CANNOT DO ANYTHING ABOUT, EVER.

        So you see, for each and every person who has a view like yours—which, you can see, are getting fewer and fewer–there’s a fair somewhere or a zoo that’s no longer giving HTWT their business. The only ones who will eventually go BANKRUPT will be HTWT. Their elephants will thankfully finally get to go to an elephant sanctuary where they won’t have to perfom like slaves any more. Deal with it.

  83. Jimmy says:

    Who cares whether or not the video was edited? There is obvious abuse for entertainment purposes. With editing we still see the torture that goes on in elephant training. I think it’s dumb to think that the cruelty portrayed in the movie isn’t the same cruelty they used to train her in the first place. The old saying goes “No animals were harmed in THE MAKING OF THIS FILM.” What about before the film? Have Trunks Will Travel’s treatment of their animals are abusive and disgusting. If you’ve watched the videos, read their statements and still agree with the situation, obviously that’s your opinion.

  84. Janice says:

    Thank you Jennifer. I appreciate your thoughtfulness. Don’t feel like an idiot. We all learn as we go in this world and I feel I continue to learn new things every day. As far as seeing or being a fan of the movie goes. Movie fans are directly responsible for the success of a movie. All of you are the people I want to talk to…people in my line of work already know what goes on so I’d be preaching to the choir in that respect on any “animal rights” venue. You guys are the ones who have the power to change how movies are made and whether or not they use live animals or not. I understand Tai was also used in a new movie coming out called “Zookeeper” with Kevin James. So you all do have the power by your attendance of such films as to the message you send out to a studio. Like I said previously….a letter had been written and signed by the world’s premiere elephant experts…people like Cynthia Moss who studies the elephants in Amboseli and Joyce Poole who is a respected elephant behaviorist…and they begged the producers to use CGI, which I don’t think would have made the film any more or less dramatic. But the producers decided to use Tai….for whatever reason. The main thing that has not been addressed…which is a very real issue…as all of you have probably seen at one time or other…elephants get to a point…especially having suffered abuse…where they just snap and kind go crazy and do a lot of damage. What would’ve happened if that had occurred on this movie set? What if Rob or Reese or any other actor had been injured. It does happen…and that is a major safety issue for me too….I don’t want to see anyone injured or an animal being shot because of the life endured off the set. I remember during the shooting of a scene for the tv show “24” and actress was bitten by a mountain lion they were using on the set. It too was an animal “trained” for movies and all that….but the point is…the actress was injured because an animal is an animal…first and foremost…and no matter how well “trained” they may be…they will always revert to what they know if they ever feel threatened. That is too great a risk in my opinion.

  85. John says:

    I see there’s been updates on the awards given to Reese and Rob being mentioned at the MTV awards. Yet no update on Tai and or Gary or Kari Johnson. Is there any news on Tai? You kept saying she is the “star” of the movie. Can you tell us what you know? Thanks.

  86. vwbug says:

    It’s great to see this issue being discussed and people thinking over the details and researching it for themselves. It’s really not enough to just accept that the Human Society’s supervision during the filming itself must mean that this captive elephant has been living a cumfy, happy life. If you care about the welfare of captive elephants, this is a perfect opportunity to encourage anyone who hasn’t given the issue much thought (but may be inclined to now) to do their research and use some common sense about what constitutes “training” of 8,000+ lb animals by 180 lb humans, and to consider where and how they live in captivity compared to in the wild. Their profoundly devoted family groups, loyalty and compassion to one another, and their beautifully diverse personalities and life long bonds with one another inspired in me an enormous respect for elephants. I’d prefer Hollywood to think twice about supporting these LEGAL “training” facilities in order to entertain me. Someone mentioned that she wants to keep encouraging people to see the movie, to boycott the boycott. Whatever, sister. To each their own. I still applaud all those who care enough to consider the details and follow their conscience, and to try to spread the word to enlighten any others who may also come to care about the issue. I’m glad PBS did just that for me, opening my eyes and my heart to the issue of captive elephants many years ago with the documentary Urban Elephant. It’s an issue that’s only grown closer to my heart in the years since. Keep speaking up about the issue, people! My hope is that even if we never change the laws regarding acceptable “training” procedures, the training facilities will lose the audiences that fund their work when enough people who DO care know enough and stop supporting any entertainment that includes captive, “trained” elephants.

  87. Pingback: Once upon an elephant in Pasadena: Considering the treatment of animals « Pasadena Art Beat

  88. Joe says:

    I would caution those that have strong opinions regarding HTWT to temper them until you know first hand about the facility, the elephants and the people involved. I personally am not involved with HTWT but due to unusual circumstances I have recently been to their facilities (twice). The grounds are immaculate and THESE ELEPHANTS ARE VERY WELL CARED FOR. If this site let others post photos, I would show you children giving one of these elephants a bath. For an elephant to lay on the ground and be given a bath shows an enormous amount of trust. That does not happen with an animal that has been abused. These handlers have a very special relationship with their elephant (each elephant has their own person) much like I would imagine some of you have with your pet or pets

    Some that have posted think that HTWT needs to answer to a random group of people making allegations. Why? How would you feel if a random group of people made allegations about you abusing your beloved pet? I am surprised they answered “allegations” at all. Before anyone starts offering up their 3rd or 4th party opinions, they should know what they are talking about.

    Someone mentioned that all elephants are abused to train them because nobody can handle an animal that large otherwise. First, I suppose the term abuse would need to be defined only because there are individuals that are hypersensitive to what constitutes abuse. If anyone saw how a horse is broke I am sure more than a few that have posted on this site would consider that abuse.

    I could go on and on but rest assured that these elephants are CONTENT, and VERY WELL CARED FOR.

    • Hans Vandertouw says:

      Let’s see if you feel “very well cared for” after you have been have been hit by a bull hook!

  89. susana says:

    It frustrates me that this is okay to people… it also frustrates me that we cannot enjoy a good movie with animals without feeling that we are contributing to something bad. This whole world is jacked up… people lying left and right to make a buck… now I have to explain to my seven year old why we should not watch these movies and purchase the products. And why she cannot ride on an elephant today at the fair. It makes me sick to my stomach. Even the zoos make me sick. These animals do not belong in cages… unless we can hold them to heal them from a life threatening injury… then release them. But still… we are messing with the circle of life. Even my mom says it is ridiculous that animals have “rights”… ugh. makes me so frustrated.

  90. I have met Thai and the people who take care of her. I can say from First Hand Experience that she is well cared for and LOVED. If you took the time and effort to meet Thai’s handlers in person and watch them interact with her “in real life” you would see the same thing. Their elephants are their “family” and they treat them with kindness and respect … always. Do not mistake Hollywood special effects for reality!

  91. Jenny says:

    When Beverly Hill Chihuahua move showed, thousands of Chihuahuas were bred after the movie, and thousands were dumped in shelters and euthanized. Animals shouldn’t be used in entertainment. Period.
    Documentaries by wildlife experts such a Steve Irwin , etc that don’t force animals to do STUPID acts for entertainment is respectful to the animal and people’s intelligence.

Leave a Reply