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On the Pirates Set…

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Did you know?

  • Johnny Depp works well with pigs.
  • Geoffrey Rush has a real way with monkeys.
  • You can’t take a poisonous snake to Honolulu.

Beth Langhorst knows all this, because she has served as Senior Certified Animal Safety Representative on the set of all four Pirates of the Caribbean movies — including the latest, “On Stranger Tides.” Since the Pirates film series began in 2003, Langhorst has monitored hundreds of animals on its sets. The 14-year Animal Safety Rep veteran can say, with certainty, that “No Animals Were Harmed”® on the sets of these Walt Disney films.

“Everything that looks dangerous in the film was done as safely as possible,” Langhorst said.

Weather matters
The filming of “On Stranger Tides” lasted about six months and took the crew to London, Hawaii and Puerto Rico to capture Captain Jack Sparrow’s (Johnny Depp) adventures. The on-set weather involved everything from cold, boggy gloom to tropical jungle swelter. To help ensure the comfort of the horses used on set — about 70 in total — the producers used three different groups of horses, each native to the climate of the filming locale.

Aloha CGI
Hawaii prohibits venomous reptiles on its islands, and those in its zoos are not allowed to leave — plus, Johnny Depp would probably rather not hold a poisonous snake. So, the producers used computer-generated imagery for all the frog and snake scenes in the movie.

Some Pig
One of Langhorst’s favorite animals to work with on the set was the pig, who started out a little wild but soon got used to working for food rewards and belly scratches.

“He was a great little pig,” she said. “By week four, we had turned him into a star.”

Fifth movie?
Sorry, we can’t tell you — but if there is another Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Langhorst will be there on the set protecting animals.

Source: American Humane Film and TV

May 21, 2011 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Stop Animal Cruelty, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘G-Force’ movie likely to put guinea pigs atop pet list

The Disney movie “G-Force” shows a squad of specially trained, computer-generated guinea pig spies coming to the world’s rescue. But animal activists say it may end up being real-life guinea pigs who need rescuing.

Some guinea pig rescue groups already have posted pleas to those who might rush out to buy the furry little rodents. “I can tell you, every single rescue in the United States and abroad took a look at that movie trailer and said, ‘Oh, God, here we go,’ ” said Whitney Potsus, vice president of the Critter Connection in Durham, Conn.

The Orange County Cavy (aka guinea pig) Haven in Costa Mesa already has posted urgent Internet pleas to parents asking them to say no when their children beg for guinea pigs, because the animals are too fragile for young children.

It’s happened before. Some call it “101 Dalmatians syndrome,” after the live-action Disney movie that sent thousands rushing to buy the black-and-white spotted pups. When the dogs failed to act like those in the movie, families gave them up, breeders said.

The popularity of Chihuahuas soared after the movies “Legally Blonde” and “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” and when Taco Bell featured a talking one in an ad campaign. Ferrets were the animal of choice after “Along Came Polly,” and guinea pigs were in demand after “Bedtime Stories.”

In “G-Force,” Agents Juarez, Darwin and Blaster drive cars, parachute, use blowtorches, swim, talk, walk on two legs, live in tanks with mice and rats and use G- Force Guinea Pigs hamster balls, Lyn Zantow, a volunteer for the Orange County group, warns on her Web site.

In real life, guinea pigs are noisy, eat and poop all the time, require big and clean cages, don’t swim and can be expensive to care for if they get sick, she said, adding that they should be kept out of the hands of young children.

“We can only hope … parents will all do their research before bringing any critters home. Otherwise, when the novelty wears off, rescues everywhere are going to have their hands full with surrenders,” Potsus said.

A guinea pig can scare or startle easily, and if a child doesn’t have a good hold, it will run off. “Guinea pigs can’t jump,” said Fenella Fpeece, president of Wee Companions Small Animal Adoption in San Diego. A fall, even from a sofa, will paralyze them, break their backs and then “they are probably as good as dead.”

She is worried about the big plastic balls used in the movie and sold in pet stores. They are made for hamsters and mice, she said. “Guinea pigs don’t have flexible backs and they don’t go in wheels.”

They also have delicate digestive systems. “Kids get distracted. If you forget to feed it, it’s done. Its little life is over,” Fpeece said.

She already has been asked if she has a guinea pig that looks like one of the agents. And ads on Craigslist are offering ” ‘G-Force’ type guinea pigs. I am really worried,” she said.

Activists say there are several waves of worry ahead: during the movie’s run in theaters, when it comes out on DVD and when the novelty wears off.

About 795,000 homes have guinea pigs as pets, according to the American Pet Products Association, based in Greenwich, Conn. Volunteers from most guinea pig rescue groups have beefed up public education programs in an effort to prevent impulse buys, said Susan Lee, director and CEO of the Costa Mesa group.

Jan Davidson, founder of Deerbrook Guinea Pig and Rabbit Haven in Oakhurst, said other rescue workers have been asking her what to do. One said she was afraid to post new adoption notices because “it is hard enough to find good homes for them as it is.”

Disney is aware of the power of the movies and works to promote a strong pet responsibility message, a studio spokeswoman said. For “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” Disney made sure most of the animals in the movie came from shelters and each was adopted when the movie was over.

For “G-Force,” a statement is posted on the movie’s Web site and on other promotional materials, advising viewers to be responsible and research any pet “to make sure that it is suitable for your particular situation” and consider adopting from a shelter.

Potsus, who has four guinea pigs, hopes parents will fudge a little to protect the animals.

“We hope parents will use money or time as an excuse,” she said. “We like to think the bad economy would cut down on some impulsive decisions.”

Instead of delicate animals who can’t talk, shoot or travel through space, Davidson suggested an alternative for children who want to re-enact stunts with the movie’s stars: guinea pigs of the stuffed or plastic variety.

By Sue Manning – Associated Press

Posted: 07/31/2009 12:00:00 AM PDT

Updated: 07/31/2009 02:36:45 PM PDT

Posted:  Just One More Pet

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August 1, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Just One More Pet, Pet Adoption, Pet Friendship and Love, Pets, responsible pet ownership, Stop Animal Cruelty | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Yo Quiero Taco Bell

GidgetGidget, the Chihuahua best known for her Taco Bell ad campaign, died from a stroke the other night at age 15, People.com reported. “She made so many people happy,” said Gidget’s trainer Sue Chipperton .

The mostly retired actor lived out her days laying in the sun. “I like to joke that it’s like looking after a plant,” said Chipperton. “Gidget always knew where the camera was.”

Gidget also starred in Legally Blonde II: Red, White and Blue in the role of Bruiser’s mom and started a clamoring for purse size Chihuahua’s.

After being released from mascot duties by Taco Bell, Gidget was a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where she was allowed a choice of a Taco Bell Chalupa or some KFC chicken.  She chose the chicken.

According to Gidget’s trainer, Sue Chipperton, the dog spent her retirement days laying in the sun, which is what she did on her last day.  Gidget was with Chipperton watching television when she began making strange noises and suffered a stroke.  The dog “had a good day and was running around as normal,” said her owner, Karen McElhatton.  “We’re happy that she was very well off right until the end.”

Watch ¡Yo quiero Taco Bell! commercial below.

The advertising catch-phrase for the Taco Bell commercial was “¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!” (”I want Taco Bell!”). The voiceover work for these commercials was provided by voice actor Carlos Alazraqui.

Posted:  Just One More Pet

July 23, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Just One More Pet, Pet Events | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alternative Oscars: The Most Humane Animal Movies

doggie-movie-starAs America celebrated “Oscar Night” last Sunday, the American Humane Association saluted those films that earned the coveted “No Animals Were Harmed” end-credit.

American Humane, through its Los Angeles-based Film & TV Unit, has a long-standing presence in Hollywood.  Since 1940, it has overseen the use of animals in filmed entertainment. American Humane is the only organization authorized to monitor the safety of animals on the sets of movies, TV shows, commercials and music videos. Productions that make sure to have an American Humane Animal Safety Rep on set and follow American Humane’s “Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media” and keep animals safe on the set are awarded the famous “No Animals Were Harmed” end-credit disclaimer.

“The use of animals in filmed entertainment celebrates the roles of animals in our history, in our families and in our lives,” said Marie Belew Wheatley, president and CEO of American Humane.

American Humane’s Film & TV Unit, when asked what films it would recognize if the organization had its own version of the Oscars, named the following, all of which earned the right to say “No Animals Were Harmed.”

Best Movie Magic Featuring an Animal: The Dark Knight  – The film features a very dramatic sequence in which dogs attack a man and then are attacked themselves. Rest assured, no dogs were harmed. The production used a combination of techniques, including playing with the dogs, filming the dogs from various angles and using prop dogs, to achieve a realistic effect. 

Most Poignant Movie Illustrating the Human-Animal Bond: Marley & Me – If you saw it, you had to dig out some tissues. This movie shows that even an overly rambunctious dog is still a valued and important member of the family, and the loss of a companion animal is truly the loss of a friend.

Best Behind-the-Scenes Rescue Story: Beverly Hills Chihuahua According to Chris Obonsawin, American Humane’s Certified Animal Safety Representative™ on the set of this film, one of the lead dogs who played Papi was a day away from being euthanized before a trainer discovered him in a California animal shelter. The dog now lives with the movie’s head trainer. Many trainers find their animals at animal shelters – trainer Frank Inn adopted a mutt from a California shelter in the 1960s. The mutt became Benji.

Best Group Effort to Protect Horses: Appaloosa In Appaloosa, there is a scene in which men on horses cross a stream, then gallop up a ravine. The Animal Safety Representative, Ed Lish, explained that sending the horses through a stream, where sharp rocks or other dangers might be hidden under the water, would be against American Humane’s guidelines. The entire crew immediately jumped in to scour both the stream and the ravine to clear the way of debris and ensure safety and comfort for the horses.

Best Rescue by a Snake: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – When Mutt grabs a vine to save Indy, who is sinking in quicksand, they find themselves grasping a snake. The production used a real python for some gentle “establishing shots”, then brought in a prop substitute for the “real” action.

By:  Daphne Reid/Pet People’s Place

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February 27, 2009 Posted by | Animal Rights And Awareness, Just One More Pet, Political Change, Stop Animal Cruelty, Success Stories, Unusual Stories | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments