‘The Hobbit’ producers refute animal death claims

Jackson_240Director Peter Jackson and producers of “The Hobbit” are denying reports
that as many as 27 animals died during the filming of Warner Bros. and MGM’s “Hobbit”
trilogy in New Zealand.

“The producers completely reject the accusations,” Jackson
and the filmmakers said Monday in a statement.

AP spoke to four animal wranglers who worked on “The Hobbit”
films near Wellington, where they claimed conditions were unsuitable for
horses, goats and sheep because the land “was peppered with bluffs, sinkholes and broken-down fencing.”

“The producers of The Hobbit take
the welfare of all animals very seriously and have always pursued the highest
standard of care for animals in their charge,” the filmmakers said Monday in response to the allegations.

The organization overseeing animal
welfare on the “Hobbit” films, The American Humane Association, also backed the producers’ assessment before acknowledging that
conditions could be improved in the animals’ housing facility, which the org doesn’t normally oversee.

“We made safety recommendations to
the animals’ living areas. The production company followed our recommendations
and upgraded fence and farm housing, among other things,”  said an American Humane Association spokesman.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is the first of three
planned “Hobbit” pics and will world premiere in Wellington, New Zealand on Nov. 28 before opening Dec. 14 in the U.S.

Read the producers full statement below:

The producers of The Hobbit take the welfare of all
animals very seriously and have always pursued the highest standard of care for
animals in their charge.  Any incidents that occurred that were brought to
their attention as regards to this care were immediately investigated and
appropriate action taken.  This includes hundreds of thousands of dollars
that were spent on upgrading housing and stable facilities in early 2011.

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
are in fact computer generated; this includes horses, ponies,
rabbits, hedgehogs, birds, deer, elk, mice, wild boars, and wolves.

The American Humane Association (AHA) was on hand to monitor all use of
animals by the production. No animals died or were harmed on set during

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.


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