People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is demanding answers after a shark used in a commercial shoot for Kmart died.
The 5-foot white-tipped shark died March 6 after it was flown from New York to Los Angeles and placed in an above-ground backyard pool to film the commercial, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The shark was injected with adrenaline and given oxygen by a trainer after showing signs of distress, according to the Times. It was removed from the pool and transported from the shoot, in the Los Angeles suburb of Van Nuys, to a specialist in Long Beach, Calif. It died later that day.
Julia Gallucci, an animal behavior specialist with PETA, told ABC News the organization received several anonymous tips after the shark’s death. PETA said the animal spent several hours with people jumping in and out of the 60,000-gallon pool for the shoot — something that’s disputed by the American Humane Association, which had an on-set monitor.
“Sharks have exceptional sensory systems, and can detect low frequency movement. It was possibly over-stimulated, scared and not used to humans,” Gallucci told ABC.
PETA wants the AHA to review its policies for allowing animals on film sets. The nonprofit is responsible for the “no animals were harmed” certification that appears in movie credits and has ordered an investigation into the shark’s death.
The AHA said in a statement the shark “appeared to be healthy upon our arrival and during filming.” The shark “was never trapped and at no point was anyone in the tank with the shark,” it said.
“Repeatedly, we see [the American Humane Association] falling short when it comes to protecting animals,” Gallucci said. “They never should have approved this. They should have immediately stopped shooting when the shark was showing signs of stress.”
Kmart said in a statement that it’s taking the matter seriously and that “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 company said.