By Nathan Bevan
It was the rude, crude and violent black comedy that painted a bleak picture of late ‘90s Swansea and earned its director his cinematic big break.
So it probably came as a shock for many fans of Twin Town to learn that, 16 years later, Kevin Allen was to make a family Christmas film about a travelling circus arriving in the sleepy rural idyll of 19th century Cardiganshire.
But while you might think that, unlike Allen’s directorial debut, that sedate subject matter would be hard-pushed to offend anyone, one animal rights group has called on S4C viewers to boycott his Boxing Day tale Y Syrcas over its use of elephants.
“Two elephants, named Citta and Sandra, were shipped to Wales from Germany for the production, meaning S4C have chosen to ignore the miserable lives led by elephants used for entertainment,” said Jan Creamer, chief executive of campaigners Animal Defenders International.
“The channel was made aware in a letter from us that, although animals may appear well-treated on set, our investigations have repeatedly exposed the welfare issues which they can face.
“For some this will mean cruel training methods such as the use of bullhooks and electric shock devices, and extended periods of confinement.
“On top of this, it is likely that these elephants endured an arduous journey all the way from Germany,” she added, claiming that the animals would likely have been chained and kept in transport boxes en route.
Creamer went on to cite how her organisation had previously exposed the violent mistreatment of elephants by US animal handlers Have Trunk Will Travel, a firm which supplied pachyderms for the films Water for Elephants and Zookeeper.
She also said that, despite her investigators having caught on film elephants being beaten and zapped with stun guns, both movies eventually went on to receive a ‘no animals were harmed’ assurance from the American Humane Association.
ADI wrote to S4C to express concerns over its use of elephants in Y Syrcas and to request details about the animals used.
“It responded stating that the elephants were filmed for eight days with rest days in between, during which their welfare was protected,” said Jan. More....