HBO has issued a statement after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) criticized the show Westworld for its depiction of elephants in the latest episode.
The television network insisted all animals on set were “treated with the utmost care and respect for their health, safety and well-being.”
HBO added, according to TVLine: “A certified animal safety representative from American Humane was present at all times during any animal action on the set of Westworld. The AHA has confirmed that the animals were well-treated, and the production received the designation of ‘No Animals Were Harmed.’
“We are reviewing the circumstances related to archival training footage which included one of the elephants that appeared in the series. Of course, none of this video was shot during the production and does not in any way reflect practices on our sets.”
The comments come after PETA manager of animals in film and television, Lauren Thomasson, wrote a letter to HBO’s president Casey Bloys, after the opening of Sunday’s show saw an elephant suffer from abuse during training.
Thomasson explained, “In light of the egregious cruelty and human health risks as well as the public’s growing opposition to the use of animals for entertainment — and because reports say that there are still plans to use bears this season — we’re urging HBO to commit to not using any wild animals in future episodes or other series.”
She continued: “Considering the realistic and cruelty-free CGI technology that exists today, all wild animals in HBO series should be computer-generated, just the way the tiger was so beautifully done in last night’s episode.”
PETA has spoken out about other HBO series in the past, including concern with the use of a lion in The Leftovers and a tiger in Vice Principals.
Back in 2012, three horses died during the production of Luck.
Read PETA’s full statement to HBO here.