30 Nov Top Tips for Working with Animals
An elephant called Phlai Ekasit, who has appeared in several films and multiple commercials, crushed it’s handler to death in Thailand this week,
According to witnesses Ekasit’s handler, Somsak Riangngern, fed him in the morning and then unchained the animal so that it could drink water and bathe. The animal took a few steps forward before backtracking and attacking the handler and using his trunk to crush him.
Whilst working with elephants is rare, the story serves as a reminder that all animals, even ones that are accustomed to filming environments, retain one common element; their behaviour is ultimately unpredictable. Therefore, working with any animal requires appropriate planning to ensure that the hazards posed by a particular animal are managed.
It is also easy to become complacent with safety around common animals and pets, particularly if you have them yourself. However, animals such as dogs and cats can pose just as much risk of injury as larger animals in the right circumstances.
The context and environment which the animal is in can also have a big impact. Observing animals in their natural habitat will have a very different set of hazards and risks compared to a drama that requires a horse to be used.
If you are working or filming with an animal several things need to be considered. For example, Where are you sourcing them from? A licenced handler who knows the animal well and is trained to help ensure it’s welfare should always be a first consideration. They will be able to help advise on what the animal can do, how to handle and interact with it and aspects that need to be considered for its own safety as well as those working around it.
There are other considerations such as cast or crew who may have an allergy to or a phobia of a certain animal. For further advice on working with animals, please click here.