Most Cruel Things Done to Animals in the Entertainment Industry
I recently wrote several articles on cruelty to animals, from that of cruelty to pets, farm animals, and wildlife. It was pointed out that I had missed one area of cruelty; cruelty to animals in the entertainment industry.
There are many types of horse racing, some more cruel than others. Certainly horses enjoy racing, but this does not negate some of the cruelty involved in getting horses ready to race. Some thoroughbreds are ridden as late yearlings, while many other horses would not even start training until age three, or four. This puts strain on their legs which is then made worse by the fact that as two year olds they are races in short distance sprints. Running short distances at maximum speed is very hard on a young horse's legs.
In North America race horses are almost exclusively stabled at the race track for the racing season, kept in tiny stalls for most of the day, not only is this boring, but it weakens bone density. In the USA alone over 800 racehorses die from fatal injuries on the race track, many more are injured or otherwise “culled” as not being good enough.
National hunt racing, formerly referred to as steeplechase racing, is more cruel than flat racing, with many horses dying on the track, as such it is mostly only older geldings that are used in this form of racing.
Greyhound racing is becoming less popular in some areas than it once was. Thousands of dogs die as a result of injury or exhaustion, many others are killed because they are not fast enough. There is even a term “Playing the piano” given for one cruel way that the dogs sometimes are killed; hung by their necks, with their front legs moving as though playing a piano. This industry produces far more dogs than are needed for racing, and although adopt-a-greyhound rescue centers do exist, they are not able to help the majority of culled dogs.
Horses, cattle, and sometimes other animals are often subject to cruel treatment at rodeos. If you look at the bucking horses in particular you will note a strap tightened around the horse, just in front of its hind legs, this is to cause discomfort and make it buck. You will also notice the cowboys wear sharp spurs and earn points for raking their spurs over the shoulders of the horse. Many calves suffer injury, and stress, when used in roping events. Occasionally they even break their necks or legs. In chuckwagon races, it is not uncommon for horses to get injured or die during a race.
There are also many rodeo events that many people are unaware of, which case great stress to the animals, such as wild pony racing.
There are many events that involve pitting one animal against another, for entertainment. Cockfighting and dog fighting are the best known, however in some places even horses are put together to fight for the entertainment of the crowd; stallions are put in an arena, with mares nearby, the stallions fight each other.
Of course some fighting events, such as bullfighting, are man versus animal.
Other fighting events involve animals of different species and are called “baiting” such as dogs vs badgers, or dogs vs bulls or mules, in which case the bull or mule is often tied up. Many of these events are illegal.
Animals Used in Movies and Television
There have been many cases where animals were made to suffer for media entertainment. Trip wires have been used to cause horses to fall in movies such as Reds and Rambo III, in one case during the filming of The Thirteenth Warrior, a horse had its leg cut open by the wires and had to be put down.. It has been reported that man animals were brutalized during the filming of Heaven's Gate, including a horse who had an explosive set off underneath it. During the filming of the movie Ben Hur over a hundred horses reportedly died, most during the chariot race scene. The list goes on. Source.
In other cases animals were put in false situations when nature documentaries were filmed. In the Disney documentary, White Wilderness, the lemmings did not just jump over a cliff, they were forced over, and others were flung over by a machine built by the crew, the scene itself was filmed in Calgary, Alberta, where lemmings are not normally found.
Swimming with the Dolphins
Dolphins, and other marine life, are usually covered with a slime coat that protects their skin. When this is touched it rubs off leaving the animal vulnerable for diseases. Additionally some dolphins are kept in very small pools for the sole purpose of entertainment.
Cruelty to animals has been a huge issue for circuses. The animals, most particularly the elephants, have very unnatural lives, they travel constantly, do not get to enjoy any sort of freedom, and abuse in training is not uncommon.
These are bears that are caught wild when they are young, taken from their mothers, and used for entertainment. The bears are muzzled and have a ring through their nose, they are prodded with a stick to “dance”, often for the entertainment of tourists.
Pictures with Koala Bears
In Australia people sometimes want to have their picture taken with a koala bear. While there may seem to be no cruelty in this at all, koala bears are very sensitive animals and those used in this way have shortened lifespans.
High Diving Mules, Donkeys, and Horses
This is another very cruel act. The animals are often observed being whipped while they are forced to jump off a platform into a large pool of water. Very often they do not even jump off the platform, it is rigged to fall out from beneath them causing them to fall. This is very traumatic for the animals, and risks injury if they fall wrong.