When we see appear on the screen animals wild, we probably wonder where they come from, how they live and where they will end up once they leave the scene or the shooting ends. However, in turn, we allow ourselves to be overshadowed by its beauty, strength and the incredible things that bears, elephants, tigers and chimpanzees, among other protagonists of films and commercials, know how to carry out.
Wild animals in the audiovisual sector
Fortunately, in the XXI century, the use of wild animals in advertising, television, cinema, photo shoots and commercial events is increasingly reduced thanks to the public demand ethical practices in audiovisual productions. Under this premise, a few years ago, was born ADnimalsfree, an initiative of FAADA, which pursues the objective of report of the problems associated with the use of wild animals in the audiovisual sector and raise awareness of the damage that is exerted on the animal and that has achieved convince to hundreds of professionals who today use ethical alternatives.
Because a filming with animals doesn’t start and end in a few hours on the set. A shoot involves preparation, training, travel, isolation and many times, unfortunately, mistreatment. It is not always easy to appreciate the suffering of an animal. Many times he appears to be in good health on the screen, he may even appear content. The real issue is often invisible at first glance.
Where do the wild animals used in audiovisual documents come from?
Most of the wild animals used in advertising, film and TV have been born in captivity, but in some cases, especially elephants, they have been captured from the wild. Many animals come from circuses, zoos or private collections that rent them for this purpose. The harsh environmental and psychological conditions can cause trauma and psychological problems so serious that they mark them for the rest of their lives.
Animals born in captivity, are they not already used to living locked up?
All wild animals, whether born in the wild or in captivity, have a series of biological and social needs that must be satisfied to guarantee a minimum well-being. Even if they were born in captivity, wild animals will never get used to living confined in confined spaces and without sufficient or appropriate environmental enrichment for their species. The conflict between their natural instincts and the reality to which they are forced to live leads them to perform behaviors inappropriate for their species such as stereotypes, which are obsessively repeated behaviors that indicate a lack of adaptation to their environment, in other words: go crazy.
But are these animals not domesticated?
Domestication is a process in which during hundreds of generations, interacting with and being selected by humans, some species of animals have acquired certain morphological, physiological or behavioral characteristics that benefit humans. In wild animals such as bears, big cats or elephants, not enough generations have passed in captivity to have lost, for example, the fear of humans, and their mere presence distresses them.
ADnimalsfree is an initiative of FAADA, which wants to report on the problems associated with the use of wild animals in the audiovisual sector
So that the coaches can “make it their own”, it is common practice to separate them from their mothers at an early age and bottle-feed them to try to make the mark with the human instead of with their real mothers and thus obey them- although when they reach sexual maturity these animals tend to become aggressive even with the people who have cared for them since childhood.
In addition, if they were domesticated, it would not be necessary to sedate them, remove their claws, seal their mouths or cut their fangs, as is often done with some wild animals. Declawing it is common to facilitate the handling of big cats and to reduce risks to people. This brutal and chronically painful practice consists of cutting the third phalanx of each finger up to the joint, also amputating bone, nerves, ligaments and tendons. Also to avoid attacks, it is common to sedate animals.
How are they trained?
Getting an animal to act as a human wishes is a lengthy process that takes place behind closed doors: what happens inside is between the person who trains it and the animal.
The basis of any training of a wild animal, whether for circuses or for advertising, TV, etc., is to keep the animals in a constant state of submission and fear of the dominance of their trainer. The methods to achieve this usually involve physical violence accompanied by verbal.
In the case of chimpanzees, for example, training begins gradually from the first year of life of the animal and as it grows, more complex tricks are required that will require greater concentration on the part of the animal. As part of the training, there is no hesitation in using methods of all kinds to achieve maximum discipline. The “lifespan” of many of the wild animals used for audiovisual purposes is therefore limited to a few years. The chimpanzees, for example, have a useful “artistic” life of about eight years, but they can live up to 60, so it is easy to imagine how they will spend most of their life.
What happens to animals when they are “no longer useful” for cinema and advertising?
When they are no longer profitable, your life becomes, if possible, more miserable. Animals that have served as a claim for large companies and multinationals have ended their days held in small cages for years and used for reproduction, perpetuating animal abuse and use, or sold to zoos or other centers.
The lack of control of wild animals in captivity by the public administration makes it unknown how many animals and of what species are used for the entertainment. And even more difficult to know what happens to them when they are “retired.”
In the best of cases, some of them have been rescued by associations, foundations, sanctuaries and private rescue centers. In Spain we have very few rescue centers and the places to offer these animals are very few. Some of the primates benefited in recent years are:
A chimpanzee that was separated from its mother as soon as it was born. He appeared on various TV shows. For years, every week she would travel from Valencia to the set in Barcelona in the passenger seat of a car to appear in disguise, clapping or dancing.
When she was rescued by the MONA Foundation suffered from claustrophobia, behaved like an autistic person, swinging and banging his body against the wall while making repetitive sounds with his lips, and showed serious social deficiencies. She did not know how to relate to her fellow chimpanzees and was aggressive towards them. He arrived at the center with three broken ribs and several teeth deviated 90º by a jaw fracture.
Currently, his stereotypes have diminished and although he enjoys socialization with a stable family group, his psychological traumas make it difficult for him to relate and at times he is absent and emotionally unstable.
Sara’s brother, Nico, appeared in advertisements and on television shows. He came to the MONA Foundation with numerous psychological problems; To get the attention of her caregivers, she injured herself by biting her hands and mutilating nerves and tendons in the process.
Currently, after the amputation of 4 of his fingers and after a process of dehumanization and rehabilitation, he has recovered physically and psychologically and his behavior is increasingly that of a chimpanzee, showing happy and outgoing.
The lack of control of wild animals in captivity by the public administration means that it is unknown how many animals and of what species are used for breeding. entertainment
Toni is a chimpanzee who was captured from the wild. He worked in circuses, television and advertising. Due to appalling living conditions, lack of adequate veterinary care, space, exercise and inappropriate diet, he suffers a deformed back that has prevented normal growth.
Marco was rescued along with seven other chimpanzees from a truck trailer where he lived for eight years, inside cages so dirty and small they could barely stand. Some were chained and spent most of the day in the dark. The lack of sunlight caused Marco to suffer from alopecia. The poor diet and the terrible living conditions have caused him a tremendous obsession with food.
The use of animals to promote brands and entertainment it’s unnecessary and cruel and from FAADA we applaud and support the use of new alternative, effective, creative and ethical technologies. We do not need animal actors to make unforgettable advertisements and films, because animals DO NOT SELL.
For more information: www.faada.org
Author: Carla Cornella, president of FAADA (Foundation, for Advice and Action in Defense of Animals)
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Good and Vegan September 2021