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Katy Roars, Elephant Whimpers

Written by Guest Blogger | October 10, 2013

“You hear my voice, you hear that sound, like thunder gonna shake your ground,” hollers Katy Perry in her new song “Roar.” Although the tune is a hit with Generation Selfie, one notable young lady is clearly not a fan: Suzy, Katy’s reluctant elephant costar in the song’s video.

Elephants don’t like loud noises, bright lights or hectic sets with dozens of people running around. As an Emmy-winning wildlife documentarian who has spent decades producing nature features for IMAX, Animal Planet and the Disney Channel, I am among many filmmakers who film animals only in their natural habitat. How did Suzy, a member of a threatened species from Africa, find herself next to Katy Perry on a deafening California set? She was violently captured from her free-roaming herd in Zimbabwe when she was 2 years old and shipped to the U.S., where she was most likely bound and beaten in order to make her perform without complaint. This video shows how it’s done in the industry.

It’s ironic that Katy’s song “Roar” is about female empowerment since elephants are matriarchal—the females stick together for life in the wild, for up to 70 years. Suzy, on the other hand, has spent 10 of the last 20 years deprived of the companionship of any other elephants. She is stored like a studio prop and trotted out at the whim of producers, directors and stars. The reason I’m singling out Katy is because this isn’t her first time making a mockery of these highly intelligent animals—earlier, she had made her grand entrance at a gossip blogger’s birthday party riding on the back of an elephant.

The “Roar” video was a hot topic at the recent Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival in Wyoming, but the buzz wasn’t good. Among the speakers was PETA’s Dan Mathews, who was quizzed about the music video since he is known for his campaigns to protect elephants with artists such as Pink and Paul McCartney. He said that he has met Katy and had sent her detailed information about the cruelty that captive elephants endure after her first offense but wasn’t sure whether she had read it. Frustrated, PETA went from privately prodding the singer to publicly blasting her repeated use of captive elephants.

Katy shot back with a letter from the American Humane Association declaring that no animal had been harmed on the set. So PETA explained to her that the AHA doesn’t monitor cruel capture and training methods and that its rubber stamp in Hollywood has become a public travesty. Just last year, the AHA was on set during the making of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (27 animals died during the making of the film) and the HBO series Luck (which was canceled after three horses died during production). The meaninglessness of the AHA’s seal of approval can routinely be seen in the news.

I hope Katy will find a few minutes to read this piece. I don’t imagine that she’s mean—just distracted. Only when stars, directors and producers stop forcing exotic animals onto soundstages will these sensitive and sophisticated animals get a reprieve. Katy Perry may be one of the biggest pop stars in the world, but next to that sad elephant, she looks like a very small person.

Please e-mail Katy and ask her to stop appearing with wild animals.

Chris Palmer is director of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking and a film professor at American University in Washington, D.C. His nature features and shorts have won two Emmys and an Oscar nomination. His experiences with wildlife are chronicled in his memoir, Shooting in the Wild.

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  • Vanessa says:

    I’m no longer a fan. She’s lost me for good.

  • Helen says:

    Katy is a self centered disgrace and have already lost fans who love animals. The worst thing is she knows its wrong but won’t stop. This woman is not worthy of adulation.

  • Jenniferalopez12 says:

    Please educate tour self on The abuse of animals used For entertainment purposes. Please stop The abuse. Do not support these acta of cruely. The animals deserte Better. Please Help them

  • kristen says:

    oops not enough coffee haha!! ok so where is suzy now and how can I help her personally??? I might have to take more than a second job but I wouldnt mind having an elephant in my back yard!!

  • kristen says:

    Unless you decide to step up and really find out if an animal has been taken senselessly out of its environment and abused,then you have just really lost a fan. I have already made it a point to show this peta article to everyone!

  • Isabelle Rineau says:

    No animal should suffer for human entertainment. Wild animals belong to the wild!

  • Vanessa Evans says:

    Katy , with your money and your exceptional high profile , you can change something for that poor elephant. Please do the right thing Vanessa Evans

  • Vanessa Evans says:

    Come on Katy, you’re rich and in a very influential position . Please right this wrong .

  • Abigail Knight says:

    Please be an advocate for animal welfare and stop using animals for entertainment.

  • Kiyotaka Iida says:

    STOP SUPPORTING ANIMAL ABUSE

  • Christian Zup says:

    People who use animals for entertainment are cruel !

  • Evgenia Brodyagina says:

    Please be kind! Use your talent to promote yourself, not somebody’s freedom!

  • OMAR VALLEJO AGUILAR says:

    Totalmente en contra del uso y abuso de los animales.

  • angelface says:

    I love to see animals do amazing things in videos and movies but not if it causes harm in any way. This includes how they are brought to the movie or video. If people didnt use them no need for people to capture them your just as guilty as the people who treated badly to train her how would u feel if someone beat your free spirit out of you ?

  • Misty Schell says:

    “Judge a society by how it treats it’s animals”.

  • Macarena Araya says:

    STOP CRUELTY!!!!

  • Harry says:

    STOP ANIMAL ABUSE!!!!

  • JOHN FOTIADES says:

    please stop the in humanity

  • sheri geertman says:

    Please do not use wild animals in your performances. It is not very popular with many of us. Thank you.

  • Pam McIntosh says:

    No animal, wild or domestic, should be used in videos or movies for ‘entertainment’. Think they want to be doing this? No, they don’t. This is not their life. Stop forcing animals to perform for humans. It is not entertainment! It is abuse! It is cruelty!

  • Sybil Climo says:

    Dear Ms. Perry, Is there another way to portray elephants in your videos? With the latest technology available, it is amazing what can be done without the use of animals. Please consider it. Thank you.

  • Agatha Fromm says:

    No animal abuse can be allow!

  • ALEJANDRA GUILLEN REYES says:

    Estoy totalmenete en contra del usos y abuso de los animales para satisfacer la vanidad de peronas tan inseguras.

  • Dawn Suppo says:

    I JUST READ WHAT YOU DID TO THIS BEAUTIFUL, SWEET AND INTELLIGENT! “I WILL ” NEVER SUPPORT YOU AGAIN”! YOUR A SICK AND INCREDIBLY CRUEL WOMEN, KATHY , ELLEN DEGENERIOUS WOULD NEVER HAVE YOU ON HER SHOW IF SHE HAD KNOWN WHAT YOU PUT THIS BEAUTIFUL ELEPHANT THROUGH!

  • Luiza Wahed says:

    DONT U EVER USE ANIMALS IN VIDEOCLIPS KATY! I USED TO BE YOUR FAN, NOW…HA AND YES, I WILL SHARE THIS TO THE BIGGEST AMOUNT OF PEOPLE I CAN

  • Angela says:

    Please don’t support their use in this way. Thank you

  • Ashley s says:

    Please stop allowing the abuse!

  • Nancy says:

    Katy, you’re a wonderful performer all by yourself. You don’t need animals in your show. Please let them be.

  • Sherry Jones says:

    You have influence so why use it for negativity against animals?

  • Julie Iamarino says:

    Are you kidding me Katy Perry? I thought you were better than that. I will not download one more song or watch one more video until you redeem yourself by getting on board to protect abused elephants. I know you are an intelligent, thinking woman with compassion. Please make up for using this abused creature by being a voice against captivity of elephants, orcas and other ancient creatures who suffer for our entertainment and will soon be absent from our planet. Dr. Julie Iamarino

  • Nadia Rossi says:

    Basta crudeltà sugli animali, non è divertente!! Ci sono altre forme di intrattenimento!|

  • Dana Rayburn says:

    stop using animals, (that should be left in the wild) as your slaves first your wedding now in videos just stop it’s wrong !!!

  • Carol Bolton says:

    Using animals for amusement is no fun for them, far from it. Leave them where they belong, doing what they want to do.

  • kamalika roy says:

    please stop this.

  • Susan smeltz says:

    Please think before you do such foolish things for $$$$$$

  • DA COSTA Amélie says:

    it has to change!!

  • Monique Parisius says:

    Dear Katy: animals are not our property. They inhabit the planet just like us and therefore deserve the same erspect as we do!!! Stsrt supporting instead of making suffer!!!

  • ROBACHE agnes says:

    terrible -

  • Lea Howe says:

    Keep animals out of your videos.

  • LINDA LOUWE says:

    whoever is doing this to them needs to be locked up.HUMANITY STARTS WITH THE SMALLER CREATURES AND WE WORK OUR WAY UP.

  • Patsi H says:

    I thought the younger, more hip, generation understood more whats going on in the world, and were suppose to be more compassionate. I guess not so. Katy Perry makes a sorry role model for any young girl. This just shows how selfish and money hungry people in the music businss are, and no matter who it is, they give no mind to hurting babies to get what they want. Like Lady GAGA does she maker her dresses out of dead cow too? They need to get out of California (AND THEMSELVES) more often.

  • Molly Nobes says:

    With today’s animation and CGI effects etc etc animals shouldn’t need to be beaten into submission for a good music video. Use a fake elephant, use effects, or just don’t bother trying to use animals, because it doesn’t even look good anyway. Taking a creature out of its natural habitat to perform is horrible, cruel and inexcusable. If you’re too cheap to pay for the effects, don’t make an innocent animal pay the price – just don’t use them, full stop!

  • Barbro Dahlberg says:

    Woman don´t you have a hart. Would you dream of treating your children like this. Of course you have no children so you don´t understand.

  • Eva Kraemer says:

    Come on Katy Perry-please do more research before you put animals, especially something as magnificent and intelligent as an elephant in one of your videos. You will probably be appauled at what you find.

  • Nicole Huber says:

    Please stop using animals in your videos! Stop the abuse!

  • Jackie Crowell says:

    Please investigate the animals you are using in your videos.

  • Meleta Lankford says:

    K P is a disgrace! Wouldn’t want her karma.

  • Marla says:

    Katy, please stop using wild abused animals in your videos, etc. Elephants belong in the wild and not beaten horribly to do the things you want for your videos. I am sure if you realize just how horrible it is for these majestic creatures, you wouldn’t have used them in your videos. PLEASE STOP! Elephants are our friends!

  • Christine gharbi says:

    Stop this horrific behavior and let these beautiful animals FREE!!!!! How would you like to be captured and held captive at the hands of evil????.?

  • Johanna Haase says:

    Please stop this!!!!

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