'Life of Pi' tiger well cared for before, after 'accident': Ang Lee

Manila, Nov. 27 (CNA) Facing accusations that the tiger who starred in "Life of Pi" nearly drowned during filming, director Ang Lee reassured reporters in Taiwan and the Philippines that the animal was well cared for by professionals. "We did everything we could" to care for the tiger, Lee said after arriving in Manila, where he was set to take part in a four-day film exchange. He did, however, admit to the animal actor's near-drowning, which was reported Monday by The Hollywood Reporter in a feature titled "Animals Were Harmed." "It was an accident," Lee told reporters in Taiwan before boarding his flight, saying that King, the tiger who portrays Richard Parker in the film, got disoriented while swimming in a water tank during filming in Taiwan but was eventually led to safety by trainers. "The crew worked hard to rescue the tiger and then showed him a lot of care, giving him five-star treatment." In Manila, he reinforced the attention given to King on-set and off. "We gave a lot of care to the tiger, as much as we possibly could," he said. The Oscar-winning film earned an important certification from the American Humane Association (AHA) which allowed it to add the phrase "no animals were harmed in the making of this film" to the credits. But according to an agitated email obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, the AHA monitor assigned to the film did not seem to feel the same way. "The worst thing was that last week we almost f---ing killed King in the water tank. This one take with him went really bad and he got lost trying to swim to the side. Damn near drowned... I think this goes without saying but DON'T MENTION IT TO ANYONE, ESPECIALLY THE OFFICE. I have down-played the f--- out of it," monitor Gina Johnson reportedly wrote in a 2011 email. The AHA responded to The Hollywood Reporter's article the same day, saying the story "distorts the work and record" of the organization. On Tuesday, the AHA told CNN that Johnson no longer worked with them. Meanwhile, a Tuesday follow-up in The Hollywood Reporter quoted a spokesman from Fox, the film's distributor, who denied that the incident had even taken place. (By Emerson T. Lin and Maia Huang)