Was Robert Pattinson's Pachyderm Pal Treated Humanely on Elephants Set?

We fill you in on the care of the gentle giant costar in the flick starring Pattz and Reese Witherspoon

By Ted Casablanca, Ivana Dukanovic Apr 22, 2011 5:49 PMTags
Water for Elephants, Robert Pattinson20th Century Fox

While we absolutely loved Robert Pattinson's dreamy-eyed flirting, there was one thing about Water for Elephants that made us scratch at our animal-loving brains.

How the hell did they make those elephant-training scenes (torture, really) look so horrendously and depressingly real?

We know the flick was certified for no abuse of animals, but we had to find out exactly how Rosie the elephant was treated.

It's all done with positive reinforcement! And some of the specifics are too presh!

Jone Bouman, American Humane Association's Film & TV unit spokesperson, filled us in on how some of those scary, abusive-looking scenes were filmed without anyone (on-set trainers, aside) touching Tai, the elephant actress who plays Rosie.

"That is all done by CGI," Bouman said regarding the many scenes were Christoph Waltz's character pokes at the circus elephant with a bull hook. "What's really being used is just a Styrofoam stick. No one ever came even close to touching Tai, and it would not be allowed by us."

Good to know! Especially because some of those moments of torture made us turn our heads in horror. Very difficult to watch.

Bouman insists the moaning and crying noises were mere audio tracks, and that those horrific noises Rosie utters never, ever came out of Tai's trunk.

"All of us here know and love Tai. She lives on a beautiful ranch in Southern California. She is so well taken care of; one of the happiest creatures I have ever met."

So happy, Bouman tells us that Tai was even giggling on set! Yes, apparently elephants giggle, too.

"Tai loves to bang on garbage cans. So when we train her, we positively reinforce her by letting her bang as if on drums," Bouman informed us.

"She takes a stick between her trunk and bangs," she added. We can't help but smile. Can you just picture R.Pattz and Tai rocking out between takes? This is what we like to see—animals being treated like human beings!

The animal protector assures us that absolutely no harm was done to any of the animals—and that every second of training on and off the set has been documented for American Humane Association's records.

We're told movie crews actually have to earn their No Animals Were Harmed certificate, by which the rigorous animal welfare guidelines cover everything from food and rest to temperatures.

The Association will post a full-length animal-centric review of the care of the animals during the filming of Water for Elephants later this afternoon on its website.

We hope Tai's trunk keeps drumming that happy tune, but do you think it was also a celebratory dance because Tai knows her love scenes with Rob were hotter than those with Reese Witherspoon?