National Geographic News
A shark.

The shark is pictured in a photo provided to PETA by a whistle-blower on the set.

Photograph courtesy PETA

Jane J. Lee

National Geographic News

Published March 19, 2013

The March 6 death of a white-tipped shark being filmed for a Kmart commercial has drawn national media attention and prompted an investigation by the American Humane Association (AHA) of the incident.

Whistle-blowers had contacted People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) about the death, according to PETA spokeswoman Julia Gallucci.

The shark had been shipped from New York to Los Angeles and was transferred to an aboveground pool in a backyard for the shoot. The animal started showing signs of stress and an AHA representative at the shoot recommended it be moved to another facility for treatment.

However, despite efforts to save it, the shark eventually died, according to a letter PETA sent to Kmart detailing the incident.

"We take this matter seriously and safety is always our paramount concern," said a representative from Sears Holdings Corporation, Kmart's parent company, in response to questions from National Geographic News.

"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," the statement said. "We are saddened by this incident."

Karen Rosa, senior adviser for the film and television unit of the AHA, declined to give details on where the shark went for further treatment.

"We are still awaiting the final report," she said.

Monitoring Welfare

The AHA—the organization responsible for certifying that "no animals were harmed" in film and television shows—was on hand during the shooting, said Rosa.

With films, the AHA gets a lot of lead time to look at a script and to schedule appropriate representatives to attend the shoot and monitor the animals, Rosa said. Yet "[with] commercials, there's almost no window at all."

Many certified animal safety representatives have backgrounds with many different species, she added. The AHA draws from former zoo personnel, veterinarians and veterinary technicians, and graduates of the Moorpark exotic animal training and management program.

The woman sent to the commercial shoot involving the shark was a graduate of the Moorpark program, Rosa said.

The AHA spokeswoman declined to give the representative's name. But she was the one who recommended the shark get additional care, said Rosa.

Delicate Constitution

PETA's Gallucci said the shark should never have been used, in part because of the animals' sensitive natures.

"[Sharks] are very, very delicate—they have exceptional sensory systems," she said. "Exposing them to the noise and chaos of [a] shoot would have been extremely stressful."

Perry Hampton, vice president of husbandry at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, agreed: "In general, despite their tough appearances, sharks can be surprisingly delicate and challenging to look after."

The Long Beach aquarium was not contacted about caring for the distressed shark, and they weren't aware of where the animal was taken for further treatment, Hampton said.

"It didn't come to us," said Michael Schaadt, director of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in the nearby city of San Pedro. "And if it didn't go to the Long Beach aquarium, I don't know where else it could have gone."

The AHA's Rosa declined to say where the shark had been transported for additional care.

24 comments
Shirley McGreal
Shirley McGreal

It is appalling that sharks should be shipped cross-country to make commercials. It would be easy to create an animatronic shark. K-Mart's parent company Sears is currently using a capuchin monkey in an idiotic commercial, and so is K-Mart. You can write to Edward S. Lampert, Chairperson, Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer, at the company's general E-mail address: help@customerservice.sears.com You can also post a comment on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sears


 

Cher Monroe
Cher Monroe

How about this, the people who provided the shark should be held responsible for it's death. If they are familiar with sharks and how they react to stress then they should never have provided the shark in the first place AND shipped it 3000 miles. 

Everyone is quick to blame Kmart, Peta (whom I dislike with a vengeance myself), the AHA etc but the truth is that the ones who own the shark should have known better and should have said no. If anyone is greedy in this situation it is the people who provided the shark.

Donald Neal
Donald Neal

Have never heard the word DELICATE used in relation to a shark. Perhaps the shark was sick before the shoot took place. 

Jocelyn White
Jocelyn White

I came on here to read the story with no intention of posting anything. After reading some of the posts I really feel I have to say something.I am so tired of people, the way the go off shooting from the hip and responding to with irrelevant comments. First of all people we are talking about an shark. No one here is saying any life is better than another. No one is comparing the sharks life to abortion, unsafe working conditions, poaching, etc. We are talking about a major corporation and their choice to use an animal in their commercial for monetary gain and the shark died from the conditions. The fact that this corporation did not provide a safe environment for their commercial is reprehensible. They obviously did not do the proper researchor involve community members that could have insured this tragedy did not happen. There SHOULD be a penalty for this and it should be big. I AM a huge animal rights activist and the manner in which we treat animals truly defines us as people, a nation, a world!

I feel strongly for any abuse victim and I work every day to help those in need whether it be a stray dog, my elderly neighbors or petitioning governments for change. It is really easy to get on a blog and spout nonsense. If you feel strongly about abortion, do something about it. Help young mothers by providing choices and education. If you feel strongly about poaching (which I do) work with the department of fish and wildlife, they can always use volunteers. If your heart pulls you in the direction of disenfranchised people, go volunteer at the mission, help provide workshops. If you feel deeply about human rights, sign a petition, lobby the government of Sudan who turns their backs on the daily kidnapping and rape of the women of their country. DO SOMETHING! But please don't spout nonsense! It makes you look ignorant and provides no value. Do not put down someone else because they care about the welfare of this shark. Everyone's passions lead them in different directions, this is what provides us with a community that looks after itself and all that are in it. Think before you talk. This shark had value. It could have been swimming in the ocean, leading its life in his domain, doing its part of providing a sustainable ocean environment.

Most of all , just do something. I am sure there is someone that is in need of your help within your own community. When is the last time you did something positive!

nicole monson
nicole monson

http://on.rt.com/mabnjd

PITA is horrible! Im all for animals being treated right but they are hypocrites who could use all their money to save animals but instead use it for stupid political stunts! They may not eat meat but they sure do kill pets freely! 

Sarah Cortes
Sarah Cortes

Peta really has no credibility when it comes to the welfare of animals. They promote and follow through on a massive amount of pet deaths every year...   Whoever gave the OK to ship this shark should be held responsible.

Rebecca Harlan
Rebecca Harlan

Yep, just go ahead and throw him in that pool full of chemicals. He will be just fine.

Petru Ursulescu
Petru Ursulescu

man, nowadays is better to be a shark than a human.. every body goes crazy when a shark dies. Is unfortunate but people die every day working for a living( work accidents for example) but no body cares, buuuuut, a fat a** shark dies (lol) because of stress of being moved in a swimming pool and everybody is looking for someone to hang.. a shark eats people even though people protect them but they keep being protected by some lunatics that spend people's money, a person kills another person out of madness and every body jumps to kill him. be serious.. the animal doesn't think u'll say. people who kill people they're probably in the same state of mind as a beast. nobody talks about stopping death penalty, stopping wars, helping people that are abused, everybody is talking about the poor stressed shark. smarten up people.. :(

Marissa Hartman
Marissa Hartman

Oh, people. This world is awful. We ignore situations that we can't change, until someone gets on and makes a comment. Then EVERYONE has their own opinion! I agree...KMart should have thought about what type of animal to use in their commercial. If they couldn't choose something that wasn't easily stressed, then they should have rewritten the whole plot of the commercial. That shark may or may not have been able to adapt in a swimming pool for a day for a shoot. Yes, sharks are endangered. But are we actively stopping poachers? Nope. I agree with the person that said they would blow off an abortion as well as starving populations. And a shark dying is nature. Abortions are not the natural way of life. Like I said, people ACT like they care, but in reality, if they don't have power over it to make it change, it goes to the back of their minds. Unfortunately, that's just how it is.

Arejay Wilson
Arejay Wilson

Im all for animal rights and protection in alot of circumstances, I am a very big outdoors kinda person,  I love sharks more than any other animal in existence, and most of all I hate to see when theres a problem when an animal dies for NO reason other than entertainment purposes and then get left discarded...

but Peta can suck it. Those people dont have a clue from their a** to a hole in the ground, and are outright, obnoxious, and ridiculous.

Sad to read what happened to the shark because of a kmart commercial though :-/

Oren Saghian
Oren Saghian

What i don't understand is why Kmart needed a shark in their commercial anyway... IT'S AN APPLIANCE STORE NOT AN AQUARIUM!!!

John C.
John C.

Ironically, you can guarantee the majority of PETA members outraged over a fish's death have no problem with late term abortion of a viable human.

Corlis Gray
Corlis Gray

How about a little perspective....22 million PEOPLE die each year from starvation.  If we were a little more concerned with the men, women, and children that were starving in the world, all of the sharks dying wouldn't mean a thing.  Granted, a tv commercial is a stupid reason for any loss of life, human or animal, but it's our commercialized society that promotes "more entertainment" that caused this animals death.  Stop buying garbage that you don't need, give more of your excess to those that NEED it, and you'll starve the companies that pay for commercials such as this one.  Nuff said.

Jennifer MacNomadic
Jennifer MacNomadic

This is clearly another indication that we do not have our priorities set properly when dealing with animals. A shark died because someone wanted it in an effen commercial. We have to have better protections. The old services for protecting animals are NOT working.  

Matthew Sutton
Matthew Sutton

atleast this shark didnt make its way into a soup. the real issue is in the seas not in the swimming pool

Keith Williams
Keith Williams

@Petru Ursulescu ok, well since you are obviously uneducated about the whole thing allow me to help.. everyday people go out of their way to help others live a better life.. believe me I know. I have been to afghanistan twice, trying to help people that I knew I'd never see again and willing to give my life in the process. those are choices that we are able to make as people.. the only one who needs to smarten up is you, the shark didn't choose to leave its environment for a commercial.. it could care less.. I guarantee you'd gett pretty stressed out if you had no control over when and where you were being taken.. also there are on average 2 to 5 shark attacks a year that result in serious injury.. people make choices, animals really cant.. I'm not an activist or even remotely close but to hear ignorance like that just makes me laugh.. get it together.

Meghan Lawson
Meghan Lawson

@Petru Ursulescu A shark's job is to live in his natural habitat, contribute to the ecosystem, etc.  Your relation to humans dying at work makes absolutely no sense.  Why should a human's life be valued over any other species?  We're all just animals.  I will grieve for all animals who die due to abuse.  Except you, Petru, because you are incredibly ignorant.

michael Rowlandson
michael Rowlandson

@John C. dont care about the human population its in good standing. Sharks however and close to been endangered. :) 

Chris Massey
Chris Massey

@Corlis Gray We (humans) kill more than three times that amount of sharks each year, and most are killed in brutal, horrific ways which make me shudder just thinking about them. I agree that both problems need to be fixed, however sharks are more threatened than many people know.  Humans stand up for other humans all the time, there are no shortage of children wanting to grow up to be doctors, politicians, and the such. Want to know a hard job? Sticking up for the BILLIONS of abused and murdered animals in the world. 

Sharks, as a whole, are on the brink of being extinct and if everyone on Earth had your flippant disregard for the life of such a wonderful and ecologically vital animal, then they would have been gone many years ago. 

"How is ranting about this going to change anything?"  you may ask. Well, honestly, it is most likely not going to change much of anything, especially to close-minded and misinformed individuals, such as yourself, who choose to ignore the pressing problems this planet has. I will tell you what will make a change. ME. I have been working for years to educate the public about sharks and to help change public opinion about how critical they are to us, and to the planet. I have dedicated my life to going to school to be an Ichthyologist and an Elasmobranchologist (someone who specialises in sharks). I am moving halfway across the globe and leaving behind my family and loved ones in order to help stop the catastrophic event. So what does it take to change? It takes dedication, passion and self-sacrifice, be it one person or 7 billion people.

Karly S
Karly S

@Corlis Gray no one is negating the importance of human starvation, but that is no reason to overlook the death of an animal. you are comparing apples to oranges.

Dave Landen
Dave Landen

@Corlis Gray Not to appear cold or heartless, but the world is already vastly over populated by humans. Resources are being stretched, as can be seen by the amount of people dying from starvation, alone.

Now, if they didn't die of starvation, they would have offspring, and as such, the problem would be compounding and be displayed on a far greater scale.


In regards to your comment about "[...] all of the sharks dying wouldn't mean a thing"; If they did, you'd have a lot more corpses being washed up on the beaches of whales, fish, dolphins, seals, etc.

Pretty sure people would still care, even with a little more remorse/concern for those of our species who are currently starving.

Todd Brown
Todd Brown

@Corlis Gray You can be outraged at more than one thing.  I agree that starvation is an awful thing, but so is WalMart killing a shark in their attempt to make more profits.  My question to you is do you spend every waking hour of your day working to end starvation?  If you take my argument to extreme do you waste time every morning brushing your teeth when you could be focused on ending world hunger.  Is your personal dental hygiene really more important than 22 million starving people?  Without this story we wouldn't know about the plight of this shark.  And you should not assume everyone shops at WalMart and consumes more than they need.

Julia T.
Julia T.

@Matthew Sutton I actually believe it is both. But I do believe you are mostly right. I think that a shark should never be kept in a swimming pool anyway and also that K-mart should not have been aloud to use the shark. But overall the problem is with people. With people killing the sharks just for their shark- fin soup in which they only use the fins of the shark. This needs to be stopped as soon as possible otherwise the population of sharks will continue to decrease until they are very rare.

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