PLEASE NOTE: The following article was based upon reports that PETA has launched a campaign against HBO’s Game of Thrones for displays of animal cruelty in the popular series. We have been contacted by People for the Ethnical Treatment of Animals denying the allegation. Further investigation disclosed that the story was originally published by a satire site and was then picked up by other media outlets, including GuardianLV. We regret that we have helped to perpetuate this hoax. PETA is an ethical organization that is deeply committed to an important cause and any implied disrespect for their work is deeply regretted. PETA has asked us to take the article down, but we are unable to do that because it violates our policies. We believe that simply taking down an article isn’t good enough because we don’t want to create the impression that we didn’t make the mistake. We did. We regret it, and beg your pardon.
The popular HBO series Game of Thrones has drawn condemnation from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for displays of animal cruelty on the show. According to a PETA spokesperson, Game of Thrones should be denounced for its unethical displays of animal torture and murder, especially against horses. The wide popularity of the show has PETA worried that such regular displays might lead to a lessening of concern for animal protection. PETA is reportedly spending millions of dollars on an animal cruelty awareness campaign and to have the show canceled.
Game of Thrones features an unusually large animal cast for a regular series. The horses are provided by a stable based in Buckinghamshire, England called The Devil’s Horsemen, which rigorously trains over 70 horses for film stunts or beauty shots. The stable’s stunt trainer, Gerard Naprous, has trained horses and riders for films such as Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Rob Roy, Braveheart, and Black Beauty. He is often seen in medieval tournaments and equestrian demonstrations in England and elsewhere showing off the stunt talents of his stable.
The famous direwolves of the show are played by Mahlek Northern Inuit Dogs, a breed known for its friendliness, prominent nose and stamina. Although Northern Inuit Dogs were first bred in England in the 1980s and only became an official breed of dog in 1998, they have quickly become a favorite of film animal trainers because of their dramatic features and submissive habits.
Other animals on Game of Thrones include ravens and the Internet darling Ser Pounce, a domestic long hair cat, whose appearance on the show in Season Four solidified Tommen’s reputation as “nicer than Joffrey.” Bryan Cogman, the writer for Oathkeeper, the episode that contained Ser Pounce, remarked on Twitter that the animal was a nightmare to work with, as most cats are under hot lights and a crowd of people.
Animal cruelty in Hollywood has long been a worry for animal rights activists and concerned journalists and actors. An exposé by Hollywood Reporter in November of 2013 uncovered animal abuse during filming of several major Hollywood films, including Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, Disney’s Eight Below and others. Four horses died during the filming of the HBO series Luck in 2012, an event which caused the network to cancel the show completely. All of the abuses, which included near-drowning, death, and punishment, were carried out under the stewardship of the American Humane Association, which has since lost a significant amount of reputation in animal rights circles.
The goal of PETA’s condemnation of the series appears to be aimed at exposing what the show has the potential of unleashing, rather than at denouncing actual mistreatment of animals on the set. Game of Thrones producers have denied mistreatment of animals during filming, and noted Vegan Peter Dinklage recently went on record saying that if it were occurring on the show, he would not be in it. PETA’s concern is with the realism of the fictional animal cruelty on display. The popularity of Game of Thrones, in their estimation, will diminish awareness of actual animal cruelty, and increase negligence and disregard of animals.
Warning: video includes violent images which some may find disturbing.
By Steve Killings