Animals in the media - misery behind the screens

An advert depicting a performing animal might take just days to film, with the final cut lasting less than a minute. For those fleeting moments on our screens, the animals portrayed might endure a lifetime of unnecessary suffering.

A circus by any other name

Animals are not actors. It is not their ‘job’. They are forced into this life by human ‘trainers’ interested in making money at the expense of animals. Wild animals like tigers, lions, elephants, chimps and monkeys should not be made to perform unnatural tricks for our entertainment. 

The training, the tricks, the unnatural environments, the hours on the road - these are the clear parallels between the animal media industry and animal circus industry. In fact, some TV animal trainers have worked with animal circuses too. 

When we went undercover at the premises of animal trainers 'Amazing Animals' we witnessed lions and tigers in a cage being made to perform tricks, jumping from podiums, standing on their back legs and roaring on command. This company supplies animals for use in Hollywood films, BBC TV shows, popstar music videos and TV adverts. 

For just a few minutes on the screen, animals endure a lifetime of exploitation

Cruel training methods

The animals who appear in films or TV ads, dancing or holding a mobile phone, do not carry out these behaviours naturally. To get these wild animals to perform trainers must persuade or force them, by using rewards or punishments. Sadly, for many wild animals they have experienced cruelty and trauma to force them to perform the amusing behaviours you see on the screen. 

Animal trainers have been exposed hitting and hurting animals to get them to do what they want. For some animals, it is the psychological damage that leaves the longest impact. 

With chimps, an infant is taken from their mother as soon as they are born to start training them to be like humans. Deprived of their mother's care, these infants can suffer just as human babies would. This training and exploitation continues until adolescence at around 7 years of age when the chimpanzee becomes more unpredictable and difficult to handle. This is the stage when most chimpanzees end up locked away for the rest of their lives, often in cramped living conditions. Since chimpanzees can live for more than fifty years in captivity, this makes this practice even more disturbing.

No life after fame

What happens to the animals once they become too old or too difficult to handle? They can never be returned back to the wild so most spend the rest of their lives in a cage in a zoo or in a private collection. Some may even be bred to produce more unwilling victims for the media industry. 

What is Freedom for Animals doing?

We carry out investigations to expose animal trainers and the miserable lives they force animals to endure.

We carry out campaign actions against companies who use wild animals in their adverts, films, TV shows or other media.

Photo: Youtube, Fox Star India: Life of Pi