04/21/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT
Kim Basinger, trumpeting her new movie "I Dreamed of Africa" on the "Today" show on Thursday, also spoke out on one of her pet causes: the abuse of animals. Among those critters Basinger claims are mistreated are circus elephants, despite repeated claims to the contrary by Ringling Bros. Nor are the circus people taking Basinger's latest attack lying down. They point out that the film clip of "Africa" that the star used on "Today" featured . . . a circus elephant. (In the film, which received tepid reviews, Basinger plays the real-life wildlife conservationist Kuki Gallmann.) In fact, several of the elephants and the lions used in the movie, which was shot in South Africa, reportedly came from a local circus.