When you go to the movies, you often see a promise during the closing credits from the American Humane Association, or AHA, stating: 'No animals were harmed,' in the film's production.
But a scathing expose by The Hollywood Reporter finds that disclaimer might not always be true. The investigation claims many movies which received the credit may not have deserved it.
Writer Gary Baum said he found evidence that the AHA – partially funded by the movie industry – often downplays or overlooks animal injuries and deaths.
"The 'no animals were harmed' credit - it's something that everyone wants to trust, and it's something that people can't trust right now," he said. "It's very cozy with the industry. And that it's not doing the work that it says it's going to be – supposed to be – doing, which is independent monitoring."
According to an email from an animal welfare observer on the set of the Oscar winning film "Life of Pi," the tiger that played such a prominent role in the movie "damn near drowned" in a water tank. But still, the movie got AHA certification.
In a statement, 20th Century Fox said the tiger "was never harmed and did not 'nearly drown.'" The Humane Association concurs.
"What we found after talking to many people who were there and were present is that that animal was not harmed and that was the most important thing to us," said Karen Rosa, a senior adviser at the AHA. "It did not compromise the care of that animal, we really believe that."
Baum said the Disney dog sled movie, "Eight Below" was not entirely kind to animals.
"In order to break up a dog
fight, a trainer decided to punch one of the dogs in its diaphragm five times,"
he said. "It seems to be a little bit odd when they did receive the famous
AHA's Rosa had a different take on the incident.
"I don't think that the trainer was beating the dog for no good reason," she said. "I think that he was responding to what could have been a very critical situation in the moment."
Baum also cited "The Hobbit" in his investigation. During a break in filming, 27 animals died on a farm where the sheep were being kept.
The AHA gave the film a modified credit, which said it "monitored all of the significant animal action. No animals were harmed during such action."
"Quite frankly, those
animals were being held on a farm that was outside of the set," Rosa said.
"Our focus and our mission is to protect the animals on the production set,
which we were doing."
Baum disagrees: "When they have a very broad statement like 'No animals were harmed in the making of this movie,' people assume, in 2013, that that means 'in the making of this movie,' not just in the scenes that you see on the film."