The beloved tiger made famous by his role as Richard Parker in Life of Pi almost drowned while on set, according to a new report.
An investigation by the Hollywood Reporter alleges coziness between the film industry and the American Humane Association, the nonprofit tasked with ensuring animal safety during filming and that bestows the “No Animals Were Harmed” stamp of approval on many movies, including Life of Pi.
“Last week we almost f***ing killed King in the water tank,” Gina Johnson, an American Humane Association monitor on the movie, wrote in a 2011 email quoted by the Hollywood Reporter. She was using the name of the tiger who played Richard Parker in the critically acclaimed film. “This one take with him just went really bad and he got lost trying to swim to the side. Damn near drowned.”
The movie centers on a boy who is lost at sea, stranded on a life boat with the tiger.
Dr. S. Kwane Stewart, a veterinarian and national director of the AHA’s “No Animals Were Harmed” program, disputed allegations that the organization and the film industry are too close and that it bestows undeserved “No Animals Were Harmed” approvals.
“This whole idea that we’re cozy with the industry — it’s simply not the case,” he told THR. “We first and foremost want to keep the animals safe.” He did acknowledge the challenges of working with large animals like horses.
“These are huge animals, with blazing speed, on stilts,” he said. “If you want to avoid incidents, keep them in the stables entirely.”