With “The Hobbit” premiere so close, the Associated Press writes about the death of 27 animals that have been linked to the movie production. Wranglers in New Zealand accuse “The Hobbit” of 27 animal deaths, although the American Humane Association claims no animals were harmed during the filming.
About 150 animals were used in “The Hobbit” trilogy, but none of them died of other reasons than natural causes says a spokesman for production director Peter Jackson. However, animal wranglers claim 27 animals died after being kept in improper conditions: a farm with all kinds of “death traps”.
“The Hobbit” trilogy’s costs mount up to $500 million. The premiere is set for November 28 in the United States, but the report will likely bring to movie theaters animal rights protesters, instead of fans. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has already announced it will protest premieres in the United States, New Zealand and United Kingdom.
The Associated Press has four animal wranglers blaming “The Hobbit” for animal deaths. One of them, Chris Langridge was hired in November 2010 to watch over 50 horses, and it became immediately obvious for him that the farm wasn’t safe. He told AP he filled some of the sinkholes around the farm and even brought fences to limit access to high risk areas.
Johnny Smythe was hired after Langridge quit in February 2011. Zeppelin was the first horse to die after the animals were moved into stables. Production reps say that the horse died of natural causes of a blood vessel that burst, but Smythe believes the horse was killed by the new feed. During his stay with “The Hobbit” production, another six goats and six sheep died because of worms, new feed and falling into sinkholes. In October 2011 Smythe was let go for confronting his boss about the animals that died.
The American Humane Association says it was contacted by Peter Jackson’s spokesperson soon after Smythe’s allegations of animal mistreatment. “We made safety recommendations to the animals’ living areas. The production company followed our recommendations and upgraded fence and farm housing, among other things” the group’s statement reads.