“Dumbo”: how technology saves animals from exploitation and what this film is really about

While the adorable computer elephant flaps its painted ears, we must remember that real elephants and many other animals continue to suffer all over the world in the name of entertainment, including movies and TV shows. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) reminded director Tim Burton of this and urged him to give the film a renewed and humane ending by forcing Dumbo and his mother to escape abuse and exploitation in Hollywood and live out their days in a shelter – there , where the real elephants used in movies and TV turn out to be. PETA is happy to say that everything in Burton’s universe is working as it should for Dumbo and his mother. But don’t be fooled – you will still cry while watching.

Like the creators of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and the upcoming remake of The Lion King, Burton uses computer-aided image processing to depict stunning, lifelike adult elephants, as well as other animals such as monkey, bear and mice, which means these animals did not have to suffer – neither on the set, nor behind the scenes. “Of course we didn’t have real elephants in this film. We had wonderful people with computer graphics who created magic. I’m very proud to be in a Disney movie that promotes animal-free circuses. You know, animals are not meant to live in captivity,” said Eva Green, one of the film’s co-stars.

In addition to being open about animal rights in the film, in off-screen interviews, Burton and his stellar cast are also very eloquent about their support for animals and why they disapprove of the circus industry. “It’s funny, but I’ve never really liked the circus. Animals are being tortured in front of you, deadly tricks are in front of you, clowns are in front of you. It’s like a horror show. What can you like here?” Tim Burton said.

Along with the beauty of the sets and stunts, Dumbo also brings out the dark side of the circus, from Michael Keaton’s character who intends to use Dumbo at all costs, to the humiliation and pain that animals experience when they are forced to perform ridiculous stunts. Although there have been some recent victories in getting the animals out from under the dome, this is no consolation to the big cats, bears, elephants and other animals that are still being captivated and mistreated in circuses around the world. “The film makes a statement about the cruelty of the circus at this particular time, especially towards animals,” Colin Farrell, one of the main actors in the film.

In their natural habitat, mother elephants and children stay together for life, and male children themselves do not leave their mothers until adolescence. But separation of mothers and their babies is a common occurrence in almost every industry where animals are used. This parting moment is the most heartbreaking scene in both the original Dumbo and the remake. (Listen to “Baby Mine,” the most tragic song in Disney history.) We hope viewers of this film will be moved enough by the story of Mrs. Jumbo and her baby to stop supporting cruel establishments that continue to destroy animal families for profit.

After 36 years of PETA protests, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus closed permanently in 2017. But other circuses like Garden Bros. and Carson & Barnes still force animals, including elephants, to perform often painful stunts. Garden Bros. have also been the subject of a recent scandal with allegations of brutally beating elephants before going on stage.

Light, Camera, Action!

Some animals are still suffering in movies and on television around the world. You can do your part to help these animals by making a commitment to never buy a ticket to a movie that uses wild animals and avoid shows that exploit them.

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