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Shark dies in Kmart commercial shoot in Van Nuys backyard pool

March 14, 2013 | 10:15 am

 A white-tipped shark died after a Kmart commercial shoot in Van Nuys last week. Credit: Handout

An investigation is ongoing into the death of a shark that was shipped from New York to L.A. and placed in an above-ground pool in a Van Nuys backyard for a Kmart commercial shoot.

The 5-foot-long white-tipped shark died March 6, according to a letter sent to the American Humane Assn., the nonprofit group responsible for the "No Animals Were Harmed" certification listed in movies.

The shark was injected with adrenaline and received oxygen from a trainer after it showed signs of stress, and later removed from the pool and taken to a specialist in Long Beach. The shark died that afternoon, the complaint said.

As The Times' Richard Verrier reports in Company Town, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has criticized AHA for the incident.

"Sharks are sensitive animals who, in captivity, require a highly specialized and controlled environment,'' Julia Gallucci, an animal behavior specialist for PETA, wrote in a Tuesday letter to an association official. "Given the delicate nature of this species, why would the AHA approve the transport and use of the animal?"

Citing a "whistle-blower" who worked on the commercial, Gallucci said in her letter that the production company, Boxer Films of Los Angeles, had recommended against using a live shark. When the animal died, Kmart asked that a second shark be brought on set, but the production company refused and replaced the animal with an animatronic hippopotamus, Gallucci alleged in her letter.

Jody Frisch, spokeswoman for the AHA, said the group had asked a third party to investigate the circumstances of the shark's death. Although AHA reviews scripts and make recommendations on how animals are used in productions, she added, it doesn't make "decisions about what animals are used, nor do we have jurisdiction over their transportation."

A spokesperson for Kmart parent Sears Holdings said it too was investigating the shark's death.

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Richard Verrier

Photo: A white-tipped shark died after a Kmart commercial shoot in Van Nuys last week. Credit: Handout

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