elephants

HBO Defends the Use of Elephants on Westworld Following PETA Abuse Claim

Westworld.

At least in part, HBO’s Westworld explores the ethics of creating synthetic lifeforms to indulge humanity’s baser instincts. You know who’s completely onboard with that idea? PETA, who suggested the HBO drama use CGI elephants instead of real ones following this week’s episode “Virtù e Fortuna.” (Of course, if the CGI elephants became sentient, PETA would no longer approve.) (Oh, also, Westworld sometimes features elephants now.)

In response to the airing of Sunday’s episode, the animal-rights organization released an open letter calling out the network for the use of real elephants, including an elephant they allege was captured on film being abused. PETA claims the elephant, named Tai, can be seen in a video posted in 2011 being trained by its owners at Have Trunk Will Travel via “domination and painful techniques” like electric prods and metal bullhooks. PETA’s cruelty-free solution, as mentioned above, is for TV shows and movies to use computer-generated wild animals instead going forward.

In a statement issued Monday, HBO says it will be “reviewing the circumstances related to archival training footage which included one of the elephants that appeared in the series,” but that, when it comes to the production of Westworld specifically, no elephants were harmed. “All of the animals featured on HBO series are treated with the utmost care and respect for their health, safety and well-being,” their statement, which you can read in full below, asserts. In response to the allegation of filmed abuse, HBO notes, “Of course, none of this video was shot during the production and does not in any way reflect practices on our sets.”

All of the animals featured on HBO series are treated with the utmost care and respect for their health, safety and well-being. A certified animal safety representative from American Humane was present at all times during any animal action on the set of Westworld. The AHA has confirmed that the animals were well-treated, and the production received the designation of “No Animals Were Harmed.” We are reviewing the circumstances related to archival training footage which included one of the elephants that appeared in the series. Of course, none of this video was shot during the production and does not in any way reflect practices on our sets.

HBO Defends Westworld’s Use of Elephants After PETA Claim