Just Like in Finding Dory, Dumbo Could Escape the Entertainment Industry and Find Freedom
July 29, 2014
Moira Colley 202-483-7382
Walt Disney Pictures has already pledged that its live-action remake of Dumbo will use advanced computer graphics—and not a suffering captive elephant—to portray its title character, and PETA, whose motto says, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment,” has another suggestion for the film: In addition to staying true to Dumbo‘s honest depiction of how animals suffer in the circus, why not change the ending so that Dumbo escapes to an elephant sanctuary?
As PETA notes in its letter, there is a precedent for such a switch: The makers of Finding Dory reportedly changed their plans to have Dory end up in a SeaWorld-like facility after learning how marine mammals suffer when used for circus-style shows.
“PETA loves the original Dumbo for getting so much right about animal circuses, in which elephants are still torn away from their loving mothers, chained inside railroad boxcars, and beaten into obedience,” says PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange. “What people around the world want for everyone’s favorite flying elephant is a true happy ending in a sanctuary, where he would have room to roam and the companionship of other elephants—including, we hope, his mother.”
To: Tendo Nagenda, Vice President, Production, Walt Disney Pictures
From: Merrilee Burke, PETA
Dear Mr. Nagenda:
Greetings from PETA’s Animals in Film and Television Division. We’re excited to hear that Dumbo is being remade as a live-action film, using computer-generated imagery instead of live elephants. We love the original Dumbo because it tells the story of the heartbreaking abuse that elephants in circuses endure. We hope that you will keep this storyline in the new film and go a step further by giving Dumbo a real happy ending, allowing him to escape the world of forced entertainment and finally be free.
Dumbo gets a lot right about the way that elephants in circuses are treated. Just as in the original film, elephants in circuses are still forcibly separated from the mothers they would stay with in nature for many years or for life. They are forced to travel for days, chained in cramped conditions inside railroad boxcars, and they are beaten, shackled, and forced to perform tricks that are frightening, unnatural, and sometimes painful to them. These wise, sensitive animals show signs of severe stress and deprivation, such as swaying back and forth, the way that Dumbo and Mrs. Jumbo do. Once in a while, they snap and go on dangerous rampages, just as is depicted in the film.
Of course, should the remake of Dumbo have an updated happy ending, you’ll be in good company! As you likely know, the producers of Finding Dory changed the ending of that film—which was originally going to have the fish end up in a SeaWorld-type facility—after watching the documentary Blackfish and learning about the cruelty inherent in marine-mammal amusement parks, which are basically water circuses. The producers were quoted as saying that they “didn’t want to look back on this film in 50 years and have it be their ‘Song of the South.’” We hope that you will make the same decision and allow Dumbo to escape the confinement and abuse of the entertainment industry and live out his life in a sanctuary, such as the exemplary one run by the Performing Animal Welfare Society in California. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration.