Amidst all the controversy surrounding The Hobbit High Frame Rate in 3D and decision to expand to a full-length trilogy, Peter Jackson and his team could not have seen this one coming. A report from the AP says that animal wranglers who worked on the movies claim that up to 27 animals died during the course of filming the trilogy. Jackson’s team is refuting the argument by saying that “no animals were harmed on set” and the American Humane Association, the organization which oversees animal welfare on film sets, confirms this claim, although they added that they don’t have the “jurisdiction or funding to extend that oversight to activities or conditions off set.”
A spokesman for Jackson said that while no animals were harmed on the set, there were two horses that died outside of production and that those deaths were avoidable. The spokesman said the that the production company moved quickly to improve conditions after the death of the horses and that the other animals’ deaths were from natural causes.
The animals were reportedly housed at a farm located 186 miles from the main film set and 26 miles from the soundstage that the animal wranglers claim was filled with bluffs, sinkholes, and other “death traps.”
Here is a portion of the statement made by the film’s production team (via Deadline):
The producers completely reject the accusations that twenty seven animals died due to mistreatment during the making of the films. Extraordinary measures were taken to make sure that animals were not used during action sequences or any other sequence that might create undue stress for the animals involved. Over fifty five per cent of all shots using animals in The Hobbit are in fact computer generated; this includes horses, ponies, rabbits, hedgehogs, birds, deer, elk, mice, wild boars, and wolves.
In that same statement, the producers said that animal wranglers released from their post over a year ago are the ones making these accusations of animal cruelty.
We regret that some of these accusations by wranglers who were dismissed from the film over a year ago are only now being brought to our attention. We are currently investigating these new allegations and are attempting to speak with all parties involved to establish the truth.
According to People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals (PETA), five horses, a pony, and several goats, sheep, and chickens were allegedly maimed or killed during production of the films. PETA has a full detailed list of the accusations against the production company; the list includes alleged instances of abuse and neglect against the animals which led to their deaths.
Deadline reported that there were accusations a decade ago against Jackson and company stating that horses were abused during the filming of Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings film trilogy. New Zealand officials later found these accusations to be false.
[Source: Deadline | AP | PETA]