Animal Emotions

Do animals think and feel?

Elephant abuse in film: "Water for Elephant" star, Tai, shocked with electric prod

Breaking animals' spirits so they perform in film must stop

Elephants are amazing animals. They, like many other animals, experience rich and deep emotions. I recently wrote about a study that showed how elephants will cooperate to pull the ends of a rope to get a reward and a superb new book shows that they live in complex social groups, are very emotional, and have very active minds. We also know elephants can be highly traumatized and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

It's well known that animals used in film have often been subjected to abusive treatment to train or "break" them, and now we've just learned that the star elephant in the movie "Water for Elephants", a female name Tai, has also been treated horrifically. She became an emotional wreck because of this abuse. If you can't tolerate watching the video you can read about it here and thank KTLA for running it. The abuse of animals is simply unacceptable so please be discriminating about the movies you choose to support. This is a matter that should be of interest and bother everyone, because we shouldn't be treating animals in this manner for mere entertainment. Their well-being and emotions matter to them as they should to us. 

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More information about this case can be gotten here and here.

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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