A 5-foot-long white-tipped shark died after showing signs of distress during a Kmart
commercial shoot in a backyard pool earlier this month in Los Angeles, enflaming animal rights groups.
The shark was shipped from New York to Los Angeles and placed in an above-ground pool in a Van Nuys backyard, the site of a Kmart commercial shoot. The American Humane Association, the group responsible for overseeing the treatment of animals on film and TV sets, said everything was done to ensure the shark's safety in the 60,000-gallon outdoor tank.
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The shark seemed to be in good condition earlier in the day, but started showing signs of distress, according to Karen Rosa, AHA's senior adviser for the film and television unit.
"As far as I know, it was immediately insisted upon that the animal receive specialized aquatic veterinarian care," Rosa told Reuters.
The shark was given a shot of adrenaline and oxygen was pumped into the tank before it was transferred to an aquatic veterinary compound where it died the same day.
"We honestly don't know why the animal died. It was not being mistreated. It was not being harmed," Rosa told Reuters.
The AHA has reportedly commissioned a third party group to help investigate the cause of death.
Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sent a letter to AHA after it learned about the shark's death from two on-set whistleblowers.
"Sharks are sensitive animals who, in captivity, require a highly specialized and controlled environment," the PETA letter read. "Given the delicate nature of this species, why would the AHA approve the transport and use of this animal?"
The concept of the Kmart commercial was not disclosed.
"We take this matter seriously and safety is always our paramount concern," a spokesperson for Kmart parent company Sears Holdings said in a statement. "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."
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