The Walt Disney Company started celebrating Dumbo’s 75th anniversary early with a special edition release of the film on Blu-ray and DVD on April 26. The actual anniversary of the movie is October 23, and Care2 has another idea about how Disney should celebrate the occasion.
Care2 is asking that some of the proceeds from the movie go toward supporting real elephants. In a petition that over 77,000 people have already signed, Care2 is asking that Disney gives a portion of the profit to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.
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“While Dumbo tells the story of the ultimate love of a mother and her baby, it also exposes the hard truth of wildlife capture,” says petition author Teresa Gieschen, a volunteer ambassador for the sanctuary. “Like Dumbo and his mother, the elephants at The Elephant Sanctuary of Tennessee were all at some point in their lives removed from their natural habitat, taken away from their family and forced to live a life of entertainment and public display.”
During the first few minutes of Dumbo, Disney dared to show the harsh treatment that some circus animals had to endure including traveling in train cars too small for their size, building the big top in the rain, and being disciplined with whips and bullhooks.
“These scenes may have been inspired by the treatment of elephants in circuses during the 1940s when the film was first released, but unfortunately not much has changed for elephants living in captivity today,” says the petition.
Care2 members are quite vocal about their displeasure concerning elephants in captivity, and the Dumbo petition was added to five other petitions asking to free captive elephants and bring them to The Elephant Sanctuary, which has provided refuge for 27 retired elephants from zoos and circuses since 1995. The goals of the sanctuary include providing individual care to the elephants in a safe complex while also educating the public.
“Money donated by Disney will help to feed and house the elephants at The Elephant Sanctuary, which is completely supported through public donations,” Gieschen says. “It doesn’t right the original wrong, but it is a start.”
— Elephant Sanctuary (@ELEPHANTSdotcom) October 19, 2016
Though well-loved, the Dumbo movie was actually a low budget film meant to keep the Disney Studio afloat. After the huge success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the follow-up films, Pinocchio and Fantasia, were not successful at the box office. Dumbo was originally planned to be a short film, but Walt Disney felt that there was a lot more of the story to tell. However, Dumbo was one of the shortest full-length animated movies from Disney (just 64 minutes long) and was lacking the lushness seen in the previous films.
Disney’s distributor at the time, RKO Radio Pictures, wanted Walt to either make the film longer, cut it down considerably to become a short subject or allow the film to be released as a “B” movie. Disney refused these options, and RKO issued the film as is. In the end, reviews of the film were positive, and the film made $1.6 million during its original release. Since then, Dumbo has been re-released in theaters four more times, shown on TV and made available for home viewing. Dumbo was also nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song and won for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.
Disney had planned the sequel Dumbo 2, but the project was scrapped when John Lasseter became Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios in 2006. However, in 2014, Disney announced that plans were being made to produce a live-action remake of the film to be directed by Tim Burton.
[Featured Image by Jae C. Hong/AP Images]