Celebrities support the Premiere ‘Elephants and Man: A Litany of Tragedy’

(Los Angeles, CA) – January 20, 2011 was the third installment of Kat Kramer’s Films That Change the World which featured the world premiere of the documentary “Elephants and Man: A Litany of Tragedy” at Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood. CHER, Tippi Hedren, Lily Tomlin, Billy Bob Thornton, Ed Begley, Jr., Tehmina Sunny, Marc Rosenberg, Lainie Kazan, Ken Davitian, Beverly Todd and Stella Stevens were among the guests.

The film, executive produced by Melya Kaplan and directed by Jacek Kropinski, chronicles the history of elephants in captivity. Kaplan, founder of the nonprofit Voice for the Animals Foundation, contends that zoos and circuses are not capable of properly caring for elephants due to their size and their need for vast amounts of space in which to roam. The documentary shows the torture elephants are put through until they learn the tricks we see them perform in circus and zoos, and Los Angeles Zoo keepers talk about serious animal abuse allegedly being standard practice behind the scenes at this institution. Melya commented that the roots of this documentary go back 14 years, when she was working with a group of Santa Monica High School students and received a package from a zoo vet that documented severe animal cruelty to the elephants at the LA zoo. This package was presented to the district attorney with no consequences.

All the celebrities in attendance were very outspoken against brutal treatment towards animals. “I would try to say a few words and not swear”, CHER said. She talked about her experience with elephants for 2 weeks during the shooting of a movie and she learned the unique social bounding this animals have, living together every minute of their lives, “tell children when they go to the zoo that those elephants’ mother had to be killed and they will be alone forever”, she added “money was taking out of people’s taxes to make this silly thing at the LA zoo, like a postage stamp compare to what elephants need”. Ed Begley Jr. commented “we can’t keep on loosing so many species for our own wellbeing; we need to stop the enormous devastation that is going on.”

Actresses and animal-rights pioneer Tippi Hedren lived with 2 African elephants for decades from 1972. She rescued a circus elephant in 1978 “no wild animal should be in captivity… the training methods are cruel and there is nothing good about it”. Lily Tomlin who has been very committed to the issue of elephants in captivity for 3-4 years talked about the needs of these animals: “Adults elephants have the intelligence of an 8-year-old child. They walk 30-100 miles a day… The Kenya reservation that keeps 30,000 costs 45 Million a year to maintain.” Tomlin stated. “Once most humans learn the truth about the cruelty and suffering we are causing these creatures, I believe they will find exhibiting them in zoos as morally unacceptable as I and many, many others do. Hopefully, this film will introduce and educate people to the barbaric and inhumane practice of keeping elephants captive in zoos.”

“As long as these animals are commodities, we’re never going to help them” said Dr. Mel Richardson, who have seen dozens of broken and trained baby elephants as they were shipped from South Africa and Zimbabwe “I’ve seen what captivity does to them, their feet rotten off because of concrete. I certify that the pictures you’ll see in this film are true”.

Kramer selected “Elephants and Man: A Litany of Tragedy” for her series as a result of the controversy surrounding a new elephant exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo. The $42 million exhibit, which opened in December, 2010, is comprised of six acres, just three of which are for elephants, with the remaining area for spectators. Prior to the opening of the new exhibit, 14 elephants had died prematurely at the LA Zoo over a period of several years, while confined in cramped quarters.

“People who think the new elephant exhibit is wonderful because it is larger than the old one, are missing the point,” Kramer said. “Elephants need more space, to be healthy. We hope zoos throughout the country will pay attention to the message of ‘Elephants and Man’ and do the right thing by closing their elephant exhibits.” Since 1999, 26 Asian elephants have been born in the US in “captive breeding programs” but only 7 of them remain alive.

Screen and stage actress Katherine “Kat” Kramer founded her film series in 2009, under the auspices of KnK Productions, Inc., to highlight motion pictures that raise awareness of important social issues. Her father, the late producer/director Stanley Kramer, was known for making socially conscious movies such as “Judgment and Nuremberg,” “Ship of Fools,” “On the Beach,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and the animal-rights film “Bless the Beasts and the Children.” The first two films Ms. Kramer screened in her series were the Barbra Streisand classic “Yentl” and the dolphin documentary “The Cove,” which later received the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2010. Ms. Kramer has headlined at awards shows and galas for such luminaries as Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Shirley MacLaine. Ms. Kramer, who is the goddaughter of the late Katharine Hepburn, proudly serves as the West Coast representative of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center.

Information about Voice for the Animals is available at www.vftafoundation.org. “The Buddhists say that there are 3 things that cannot be hidden for long: the sun the moon and the truth.” Kaplan said.

Photo credits: Fred Anderson.

CHER on the podium

CHER on the podium

Fred Anderson

Slideshow: Celebrities support the Premiere ‘Elephants and Man: A Litany of Tragedy’

Tippi Hedren, Billy Bob Thornton, Kat Kramer, Lilly Tomlin.

Slideshow: Celebrities support the Premiere ‘Elephants and Man: A Litany of Tragedy’

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