Well known to many is the sight of Disney pushing a swathe of lemmings off a cliff just to show you how stupid they are. Lessons are learnt and skin burnt for better pelt and the producers of The Discovery Channel are getting as many fingers as a stranger down a busy street swimming in drunks.
In this case it's the case of the tigers from one area misrepresented for another in an upcoming documentary entitled, Living With Tigers.
Throughout its production, the documentary was plagued, like Europe in the fourteenth century, with accusations of deception and trickery.
"The film is a fraud," declares Stuart Bray, an American-born investor whose money was used to make the film. "And Discovery knows it's a fraud."
"They hijacked the project while my wife and I were in London and Beijing working on the charity.
"They originally came to us because they could not get any broadcaster interested in their bogus tiger story.
"They used the legitimate front of the Chinese Tiger story to conclude a secret deal with Discovery. As soon as that deal was secured, they abandoned the Chinese Tiger project and reverted to their bogus one, so that they could keep all the profits for themselves. [...]
"The Vartys claim their film is about tiger conservation, but it's not.
"It's a fraud scientifically as well as legally, and unless the people who watch it are alerted to that fact I worry they might believe what they see."
"Manipulating animal behavior for the sake of documentary film production is not ethical", says award-winning South African wildlife film maker Phil Hattingh, "this brings into question the film techniques employed in many of Jon Varty's documentary film productions."
The wrangling stems from the use of unendangered tigers for filming the conservation documentary. Money was taken and misdirected, animals coaxed into doing things they didn't even want to and the stench of lies is brewing more foul than the coffee in Austin Power's mouth. It's a circus for the big time.
Following an email from Joan that sparked a memory of this, an email was sent to Kate Reynolds from Save China's Tigers who provides the following links from the Wildlife Action Group and Wildlife Film News.
Apparently the Wildlife Action Group doesn't keep its news archives beyond 2008 (very big shame) and the URL of the Wildlife Film News totally changed. Extracts have been edited into the main above from the latter's sources in case they disappear in future.
Below are choice grabs from the rebuttals and defense between the Varty's and Bray & Li Quan in Wildlife Film News #57
Patently, the film is not a fraud. [The tigers] Ron and Julie are now surviving and killing for themselves in the wild. This is a groundbreaking achievement that has been buried under the weight of the human egos involved.
- John and David Varty
Ron and Julie are regularly loaded into a cage barely bigger than the tigers themselves for transport from one small enclosure to another just so the scenery will change to give the impression that the tigers have been released into a larger area. Additionally, we have witnessed canned hunts in which the film crew repeatedly chased prey into the path of the tigers just for the sake of dramatic footage.
- Stuart and Li (Save China's Tigers)
Written on Monday, 8 September 2003