SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Use of Animals in Films and Television

Animals in Entertainment, Sport, and Work

SPCA advocates that animals may only participate in films, television, advertisements and theatre if a Good Life can be provided where they experience positive welfare and their physical, health, and behavioural needs are met before, during, and after the performance.

Where animals perform in films, television, advertisements or theatre, there must be an independent person with species-specific animal welfare experience on set at all times, tasked with ensuring the animal’s welfare needs are met at all times.

Where animals perform in film, television, advertisements or theatre, SPCA recommends that their suitability is assessed on a case-by-case basis, based on their species, age, temperament, life history, and the specifics of the intervention. Animals should be properly assessed for suitability for the programme, supervised at all times, and have the choice of participation in the event.

SPCA opposes the training, confinement, or performance of wild animals or non-domesticated species for commercial gain and/or human entertainment. The participation of domesticated animals for filming is only acceptable if the activity does not cause or permit their suffering or otherwise adversely affect their welfare.

Where animals perform in films, television, advertisements, or theatre, they must not endure physical or psychological distress. Animals should only be permitted to participate in entertainment where their needs are put before those of the production and the audience. Animals must not be involved in entertainment if the circumstances of their captivity or the presence of an audience are likely to cause distress or harm.

SPCA advocates that animals involved in film, television, advertisements or theatre be handled and trained with low-stress, force-free methods.

(See Training methods and devices for more information)

SPCA opposes the promotion of training methods or devices through film, television, advertisements or theatre which rely on fear or discomfort.

(See Training methods and devices for more information)

SPCA supports the portrayal of human animal relationships and positive animal welfare on televisions, film, advertisements, and theatre productions.

SPCA encourages the portrayal of positive interactions with animals to help people develop an understanding of and empathy for all animals. SPCA is concerned when animals are used as entertainment because of the potential for these activities to objectify animals and undermine the development of empathy towards all living beings.

SPCA is concerned with portrayal of animals that either intentionally or unintentionally contributes to poor animal welfare outcomes, including undermining the importance of responsible pet ownership.

SPCA supports the further reduction of animals in television, film, advertisements and theatre.

SPCA welcomes the increasing technological advances in computer-generated imagery and motion capture technologies that make redundant the requirement to involve animals in the creation of film and television productions.

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