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Thursday, April 4, 2013

white-tip Shark used for K Mart Commercial dies...........

Heard of the  Lençóis Maranhenses National Park ~ clue, I read about this because of a Tamil cinema.  There are so many advertisements – ranging from sublime to ridiculous – some asking whether your toothpaste has salt ? [if that is a compulsory ingredient, why their other brands do not have ?] ~ many detergents claim that they will remove dirt in one stroke – one speaks of dresses being kept happy – there are more…… somehow I feel the recent Cadbury Perk advt is not in good taste.  It is ok that Cadbury Perk comes packed with glucose energy….a pa and daughter go jogging and come to rest – then after tasting the Perk, father says he wants to jog more… puzzled daughter after a second, whistles and call her boy-friend even as her father jogs away !

Whether we like them or not ‘Commercials’ are here to stay… infact they are a big industry – so many involved in creating advertisement that change the purchasing pattern of commoners.  So much emphasis is placed on location and the background on songs…….it is another matter altogether that a song could have become a hit or otherwise, if perhaps shot on a different location too…  more worrisome is when animals are used in advertisements….. people may like the advt, it might generate more revenue ~ nobody knows whether the success is because of an animal, a bird … doing something in the advt………one thing for sure is ‘something unnatural and outside its natural environ, is bound to hurt and affect the animal / bird’……

‘a fish out of water’ is an idiom explaining ‘someone who is in a situation they are unsuited to’ ~ perhaps even water could be unsuited to a fish is what has been realized by K Mart recently……….and what this post is about.  It is about the shark that was placed into a 60,000 gallon (227 litre) outdoor tank in the Van Nuys suburb of Los Angeles, ready for a film shoot, this was reported to be good amount of water; but the animal died.  

From that famous Spielberg’s thriller Jaws (1975) of a  killer shark terrorizing beach-goers, there have been many films on such predatory attacks by sharks. Sharks are known for their power, speed, and agility in sea waters. They generally do not live in freshwater although there are a few known exceptions, such as the bull shark and the river shark, which can survive in both seawater and freshwater.  Some of its species are the great white shark, tiger shark, blue shark, mako shark, and the hammerhead shark; on one side they can frighten humans but in reality their survival is threatened by human-related activities. Of the many species, is the Oceanic white-tip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) inhabiting tropical and warm temperate seas. Its stocky body is most notable for its long, white-tipped, rounded fins.This aggressive but slow-moving fish dominates feeding frenzies, and is a danger to shipwreck or air crash survivors.

Kmart is an American chain of discount stores headquartered in the United States. The company was founded in 1962 and is the third largest discount store chain in the world, behind Walmart and Target, with stores in the United States, Puerto Rico, theU.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. Kmart became known for its "Blue Light Specials." They occurred at surprise moments when a store worker would light up a mobile police light and offer a discount in a specific department of the store.

Kmart was doing that commercial shoot in Van Nuys involving a 5-foot-long white-tipped shark but it  died March 6.  The shark had been shipped from New York to Los Angeles and placed in an above-ground pool in a Van Nuys backyard for a commercial for Kmart, according to a letter sent to the American Humane Assn. The shark was injected with adrenaline and received oxygen from a trainer after it showed signs of stress. It was later removed from the pool and transported to Long Beach to be examined by a specialist, but the shark died that afternoon, the complaint said. The incident triggered a rebuke of the American Humane Assn. ~ the group charged with overseeing the welfare of animals on sets -  from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA, which is opposed to all use of animals in filming, has repeatedly raised questions about the nonprofit group's role. The AHA is responsible for the "No Animals Were Harmed" certification listed in film credits.

Shark photo courtesy : Nat Geo

"Sharks are sensitive animals who, in captivity, require a highly specialized and controlled environment,'' Julia Gallucci, an animal behavior specialist for PETA, wrote in a Tuesday letter to an association official. "Given the delicate nature of this species, why would the AHA approve the transport and use of the animal?" Citing a "whistle-blower" who worked on the commercial, Gallucci said in her letter that the production company, Boxer Films of Los Angeles, had recommended against using a live shark. When the animal died, Kmart asked that a second shark be brought on set, but the production company refused and replaced the animal with an animatronic hippopotamus, Gallucci alleged in her letter.

Although AHA reviews scripts and make recommendations on how animals are used in productions, it doesn't make "decisions about what animals are used, nor do we have jurisdiction over their transportation," Frisch added. A spokesperson for Kmart parent Sears Holdings is quoted as stating:“We take this matter seriously and safety is always our paramount concern. We have been advised by our agency that the production company responsible for this shoot worked with professional animal handlers and a representative of the American Humane Association for the purpose of monitoring the shark’s welfare. We are saddened by this incident.” The shark was put in an above-ground swimming pool at a home in Van Nuys, California, where the Kmart commercial was being filmed, according to PETA and the American Humane Association.

The shark which had been transported from New York to Los Angeles  died on March 6, 2013.   The shark appeared to be healthy upon our arrival and during filming, which involved only the animal swimming normally in a 60,000-gallon tank and exhibiting natural behaviors," the AHA’s statement read.  Some say that the  noise and chaos of a commercial shoot is a very stressful environment for these sensitive animals and that the shooting went on even after the animal was seen in distress. 

Sad that neglect and improper care resulted in the death of a shark…

The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is located in Maranhão state, in northeastern Brazil.  The park known for its picturesque surrounding was created in 1981.  The song ‘kadhal anukkal’ in film Enthiran of Shankar was shot here.  The music video featuring the romantic pairing of Rajinikanth and Aishwarya Rai, was choreographed by Prabhu Deva.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
4th April 2013.

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