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A Peek Behind the Scenes

Written by PETA | June 29, 2010
Shooting in the Wild Cover

It takes guts to challenge the multi-million-dollar-a-year industry that you’ve made your living from, but award-winning filmmaker and provocateur Chris Palmer has thrown open the curtain on what really happens during the filming of wildlife shows, movies, and documentaries in his new book Shooting in the Wild: An Insider’s Account of Making Movies in the Animal Kingdom. His book reveals how corners are cut, animals are harassed, and scenes are staged all in the quest to catch the “money shot.” Palmer, who admits that he himself engaged in some unethical practices while filming, is uniquely suited to expose what really goes on behind the scenes.

One of Palmer’s targets is the late Steve Irwin, aka the Crocodile Harasser Hunter. After Irwin died, PETA took some heat for honestly pointing out that the entire premise of his show was based on harassing wild animals. Palmer validates our contention, reminding readers that Irwin invaded animals’ homes, netted them, taped their mouths shut, removed them from their natural environment, and used them as living props.

Order a copy of this revealing and thought-provoking book right away, and for loads of other great reads, visit the PETA catalog.

Written by Jennifer O’Connor

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  • Brad says:

    There is a big difference between viewing wildlife and forcing wildlife to be live props in your made for tv specials.

  • Cecilia Gummeson says:

    Everybody talks using the same words but often end up arguing. Not necessarily because they have different values although they may but because they have different definitions of the words used. For example how do YOU define “love” and “harass?” I just googled those two words and found the following. Harass to create an unpleasant or hostile situation especially by uninvited and unwelcomed verbal or physical conduct. According to this definition Steve Irvin harassed animals. Love There are many kinds of love. But the kind of love Peta and other animal right activists embrace I think is the following A person can be said to love an object principle or goal if they value it greatly and are deeply committed to it. Similarly compassionate outreach and volunteer workers’ “love” of their cause may sometimes be borne not of interpersonal love but impersonal love coupled with “altruism” and strong political convictions. Altruism is a selfless concern for the welfare of others. Anybody who claims that people who harass animals also loves them either are referring to a sick kind of love or they do not know the definitions of the words they use. Be clear! Mean what you say and say what you mean for the sake of the animals you “love.”

  • Kaitlyn says:

    I love PETA but you cant disrespect Steve Irwin like that. Yes i agree he was a bit…hands on with the animals but he still saved more than he ever harmed. I do recall watching his show and thinking “jeeze does he have to attack them??” but a croc is a tough creature and he never really harmed any animals.

  • Chantelle says:

    I am a vegan and I am passionate about animal rights but Steve Irwin did a lot for animal conservation. The projects that are underway from his financial sponsership in regards to preventing the extinction of Australian river turtles and koalas whos numbers are dropping and the education about wildlife issues that wasn’t there before for everyday australians is phenomenal. His adoration and passion for wildlife was very obvious he even named his daughter after the crocodile he loved best and because of his efforts species are being saved. And in Australia where we have the highest rates of animal and plant extinctions in the world that is a legacy to be proud of. And as Sue Francis points out here in Australia idiots wander into plainly labelled crocodile areas and get themselves killed. What happens then? People rally for the croc to be killed who was just doing what crocs by nature do. Thank goodness for the efforts of people like Steve Irwin that help stop this sort of mentality. And animals while smart and intuitive cannot understand human language as we cannot understand theirs we cannot communate with them that we need to move them because they may have wandered into a residential area or that we need to put a tag on their leg so we can see migration patterns so we can help their endangered species not go extinct or that they are injured and we need to take them to a vet to get better then release them back in the wild. Sedating and moving wild animals is not cruelty in every instance it must be done in a a large number of cases to protect andor help the animal and of course they panic and fight because we can’t tell them what’s going on. The animal abusers tarnish this for the people that do this for the right reasons. And I must say that because PETA is based in the states until you have lived in Australia and in particular the Northern Territory you cannot fully grasp crocodile and other Australian specific animals plights and issues. Other than Steve Irwin however I think this book is important for the education of people and the expostion of the abuse that is going on and I think PETA is doing a fantastic job in the fight for animal rights and freedom. I am a massive fan Peace to you all xx

  • Sue Francis says:

    I think that it is sad that you bring Steve Irwin into this artical. Most of the wild crocs that he captured on film he was called into to do so by the government because the public intent on invading into the reptiles habitat and making it unsafe for the human so then the croc was captured and released further away from the public that had encroached on the crocs home this happens time and time again when people disregard warning signs.

  • amber says:

    I want to add that exposing that many techniques used in nature films are not ethical is not necessarily an argument that these films should not ever be made. Some may make that argument I wouldn’t. Journalism and documentary film work has overt and implied ethical guidelines. I assume that where animals are concerned these are less adhered to. When they are not being followed people within the industry should blow the whistle. The industry has an opportunity to look at itself when that happens particularly if there is public outcry. This is for the good even if not everything in this particular book ends up being substantiated. It’s part of the dialog. I don’t think it’s news that Steve Irwin obviously interfered with animals in the course of creating his entertainment it’s on film for us to see. As is his love of animals. It could be considered very reflective of humankind’s duality with respect to our feelings on animals.

  • Ralph says:

    Why do you guys insist on thinking that wildlife doesn’t know how to attack harm and kill those who bother them? Seriously this is ridiculous thinking that animals are weak and meek.

  • James says:

    I am glad that this book is getting published. Very interesting to know that so many of our “educational” films and television programs are a farce. Yes it would have been nice if this book have been published when Irwin was alive. I’d be very interested to hear him defend his practices and approaches but really what is there to defend? He harassed animals for entertainment at best producing educational pieces of a trivial nature. Anyway as the copy above states Irwin is not the only target in this book. Those who like the above commenter want to see animals doing what animals really do might do well to steer clear of of these contrived and mediated “nature” shows.

  • amber says:

    If Steve Irwin’s own death isn’t the prime evidence that he harassed animals for a living I don’t know what is. He seemed to get a thrill from bothering dangerous animals and in the end it had great consequences. I’m sorry he died. But a lot of people love animals who also harm them. Hoarders for one love their animals to illness suffering and death. I think Peta or it’s spokespeople often does ridiculous stuff often insists on a stance that is mockable and will not help the cause. I’m a vegan and I find a lot of Peta’s output undercuts it’s credibility. However the case of Steve Irwin and the exposure of nature programming in this book does not strike me as one of those cases.

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    I agree with PETA on most things however if Chris Palmer had an issue with Steve Irwin he should have published the book when Steve Irwin was alive and able to answer back. Perhaps Mr. Irwin’s widow will engage him in a debate. Also where does PETA think all that wildlife footage which they urge people to see rather than go to zoos aquariums circuses etc. comes from? I have watched both “March Of The Penguins” and “Happy Feet” and let me tell you “Happy Feet” while cute and a wonderful example of what a filmmaker with a good imagination and a computer can do just does not compare with seeing film of real penguins doing what penguins really do.

  • Cynthia says:

    Although I am an animal rights activist I feel that PETA can be a bit disrespectful at times. Steve Irwin had an immense love of animals and although his way of expressing that mightve been to take the animal out of their natural habitat I think it is important to remember that to study these amazing animals sometimes we must do so. Also we must remember that Steve Irwin has passed and has a daughter and wife whom are still living.