Meet Bertie the elephant. She’s the star of the final-year project by University of Hertfordshire students Zak Boxall and Chris Turner, and she was created with computer-generated imagery (CGI).
The students say that they aimed to capture “the beauty and innocence of a living elephant” without using a real elephant. And they have done just that, winning them PETA UK’s Innovation in Film Award for helping to prove that it’s unnecessary to exploit real animals in films.
The future of film lies in technology like CGI and not in beating animals into performing. Animals exploited for film and TV can experience extreme stress and weakened immune systems from travel and handling, are denied everything that is natural and important to them, and frequently end up in filthy roadside zoos or other inhumane and woefully inadequate environments once their 15 minutes of “fame” are up.
There is nothing glamorous about showbiz for elephants and other animals who are used in TV, movies, or advertising. We’re calling on directors and producers throughout the fields of entertainment and marketing to follow in these students’ footsteps. If you see a film that exploits animals, please contact the producers and tell them why you object.
Of the approximately 45,000 Asian elephants left in the world, 3,000 to 4,000 are held captive in Thailand. They have been torn from their jungle homes to be sold like equipment and made to beg in the streets, haul illegal logs, or entertain tourists. If you want to see elephants up close, never visit elephant camps or take elephant rides, and only visit accredited sanctuaries such as Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary, where former captive elephants are cared for and rehabilitated. Instead of hurting elephants by paying for a ride, you can meet the gentle giants and hear the heartwarming stories of their rescues.