This week, The Hollywood Reporter takes a deep look into Hollywood’s treatment of animals, focusing specifically on the American Humane Association (AHA) and their “No Animals Were Harmed” program. What the report found was that the inclusion of the “No Animals Were Harmed” tag at the end of a movie doesn’t necessarily mean anything, stemming from the fact that the AHA is funded by the SAG-AFTRA actors’ union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. THR points to Life of Pi, which received the “No Animals Were Harmed” credit, despite an event in which a Bengal tiger (which was used when CGI just wouldn’t cut it) almost drowned trying to swim back onto the boat.
2008’s The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian was another film that received the credit, despite upwards of fourteen horses sustaining injuries. AHA’s justification was that “none of the injuries were serious and none were due to intentional harm.” There are also the cases like those of The Zookeeper, Marmaduke, and Our Idiot Brother — in which animals died, but the productions were excused because the deaths were “not work-related” — or that of The Hobbit, in which several animals died, though not during shooting.
The AHA employees (former and current) interviewed blame the conflict of interest that comes when you are monitoring the people who are funding you. Some of the most damning accusations came from Barbara Casey, the former head of production for the animal safety supervising Film & TV Unit, who sued the AHA and HBO for wrongful termination. There are her allegations that she advised the makers of Luck on safer horse treatment, only to have them “[exercise] their political muscle and influence with AHA” and ignore her. She also alleges that “in order to protect Steven Spielberg, one of the most notable and influential persons in the history of film, and because of the volume of press and other publicity this film garnered, AHA agreed to cover up the death of [a] horse [on War Horse] and to give the 2011 film its ‘No Animals Were Harmed’ end credit.”