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Shark Reportedly Dies on Set of Kmart Commercial

Written by Michelle Kretzer | March 13, 2013

Following reports from whistleblowers that a whitetip shark died during the production of a Kmart commercial, PETA is urging the chain to investigate the incident immediately and to adopt a policy against using wild animals in its ads. According to the whistleblowers, the 5-foot shark was flown from New York to Los Angeles on March 6 and placed in a small above-ground pool in Van Nuys, California. Human actors repeatedly jumped in and out of the pool during the shoot, which likely caused the animal to stress. 

PETA was told that The American Humane Association (AHA), which approved the script and was on set, allowed shooting to continue for about an hour after the shark began exhibiting signs of stress. The shark was then reportedly taken out of the pool and died later that day.

Sharks are delicate animals who, in captivity, require a highly specialized and controlled environment. Sharks have exceptional sensory systems that allow them to detect minute electrical fields and sense low-frequency sounds and vibrations. The noise and chaos of a commercial shoot is a very stressful environment for these sensitive animals.  

Animatronic and CGI sharks have been in use for nearly 40 years in films such as Jaws, Bait 3D, Deep Blue Sea, and Shark Night. In addition to urging Kmart to adopt a policy against using wild animals in its commercials, PETA is contacting the AHA regarding its failure to protect the shark. 

One animal death is one too many. 

Commenting is closed.
  • Stephanie says:

    These people have no consideratins for animals, whatsoever. What I do not understand is why this was permitted, if there are studies that demonstrate the dangers of exposing sharks into these stressful environments. Stricter laws need to be enacted that prevent animals from being used for advertising. This is so inhumane. :/

  • John Olexa says:

    I just emailed them asking for a explanation Contact info for the AHA 121 National Headquarters Washington, D.C. Call: (800) 227-4645 Write: American Humane Association 1400 16th Street NW, Suite 360 Washington, DC 20036 Email: Film & Television Office Los Angeles, California Call: (818) 501-0123 Fax: (818) 762-0908 Write: American Humane Association Film and Television Unit 11530 Ventura Blvd. Studio City, CA 91604 Email:

  • Andre says:

    How does KMart even remain in business?! Not that they had to worry about it in the first place, but after this they can definitely count me out as a customer of theirs! Not $1.

  • briana says:

    freaking horrible i mean why are humans so blind to the fact that we take everything from animals! if we were in that state that the animal was in, we will suffer.

  • Crystal says:

    This really disappoints and disturbs me. Not only would the sensory issue be a massive problem, the lack of swimming space would have caused slow and painful suffocation – captive sharks ALWAYS die, most die in even the best enclosures within 8 months maximum. So a swimming pool is incredibly inappropriate for such an amazing animal, even for 5 minutes. This is blatant torture, I am finding it difficult to understand the thought processes (let alone the MONEY) that led to this occurring. It would have taken a lot of planning and funding to do, so this was not a light decision and they had firm intentions here. Mere negligence would be less abhorrent – but barely. Needless to say, I will no longer shop at Kmart and will be spreading the word.

  • Alisha says:

    Boycott Kmart!!!! A loss of business will teach Kmart’s CEO a lesson or two.

  • Barb Falls says:

    This is so sad and could have been prevented. Sharks and all animals are beautiful. They should be respected. Stupid Humans. When are they going to learn.

  • Loves All Animals says:

    K-Mart–why did you even consider using a real shark? Whose decision was that? Why didn’t the person in charge do what is right and make the decision to NOT use a real shark? Shame also on you, AHA! So sad–and so sickening. Come on K-Mart and AHA–show respect and take of the animals–always! That’s all of our jobs!!!

  • Emily says:

    Agreed Jay Lynn!

  • Krysta S-D says:

    the sooner companies know that this type of commercial gives consumers less of an incentive to buy products the better, animals are not ours to use and exploit only to then be treated like an inanimate object!!

  • Kmart Sucks says:

    Way to go Kmart. You just killed a majestic animal for your stupid commercial for your failing compnay. Someone needs to put their Execs with elephants stomping around to show them how it feels. What a bunch of idiots.

  • smimi says:

    wow!!! the people should have been more aware of the shark.

  • Jen says:

    Aha should be ashamed,hired guns for supervising mistreatment!

  • Lisa says:

    No wonder the poor animal died people jumping in and out the pool enough to stress any animal out and why did the American Humane Association aprrove this?? thought they were there to protect animals, to let this company use a wild animal in the first place is totally wrong i know here in the UK the RSPCA arn’t the best but they would of never allowed this shark to be used like that. Quite disgusting.

  • jackie says:

    Please do not continue to use animals for entertainment. My heart goes out to this animal who must have been incredibly frightened after everything he/she went through. This death could have been avoided.

  • Jay Lynn says:

    To KMART CEO and Management: Please stop using animals in your advertising! Please see the film ‘The Cove’ and discuss with Ric O’Barry the needs of dolphins, whales and sharks. You can sell more KMART items by hiring actors to perform songs, dances, and skits. Consider asking PETA to help KMART design future commercials. They may be able to increase your sales. Sharks are under threat of extinction because of Navy sonar in 70% of the world’s oceans. Also the H.A.A.R.P. program in Alaska (near Eagle River) is creating health problems for sharks, dolphins and whales. It may have increased the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.