'Hobbit' Director Denies Off-Set Animal Abuse Allegations

'Hobbit' Director Denies Off-Set Animal Abuse Allegations

Peter Jackson

Photo: Natasha Baucas/Creative Commons

The director of the film "The Hobbit" has denied allegations that conditions at an off-set farm where animals used in the film resided contributed to several animals' deaths, including three horses.

In separate written statements released Nov. 19, both the American Humane Association (AHA, an organization that establishes welfare guidelines for animals used in film and entertainment) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said they had received letters from wranglers involved with the production of "The Hobbit." The letters claimed that the film's production company was responsible for the deaths of 27 animals, including three horses and several goats, sheep, and chickens. The wranglers said that some of the alleged abuse stemmed from unsafe conditions including the presence of sinkholes and bluffs at the farm where the horses were kept between location appearances.

According to the PETA statement, the wranglers said two of the horses sustained broken necks after other horses in their paddock ran them down embankments. One of those horses was euthanized while the other was discovered dead, the statement said. A third horse colicked and later died after its diet was changed, the PETA statement said. The PETA-issued statement also noted that the wranglers claimed a horse was maltreated when handlers allegedly hobbled the animal after it became too difficult to handle on set.

In a Nov. 20 statement posted on his Facebook page, Peter Jackson, director of "The Hobbit" and the other films in the "Lord of the Rings" series, said the production company investigated the allegations and determined them unfounded.

" 'The Hobbit' production (company) has always instituted swift and immediate investigations into any concerns of any kind over the treatment of animals under its care," Jackson's statement said. "A prompt and thorough investigation into the recent unsubstantiated allegations by ... PETA into the 'hobbling' of a horse during the making of 'The Hobbit' was undertaken. No evidence of such a practice was found to have occurred at any time."

Jackson said that a pair of wranglers who were fired by the production company two years ago were among those making the allegations.

As a result of the allegations, PETA is calling for a boycott of the film's world premiere slated to take place on Nov. 28.

Meanwhile, the AHA said the allegations demonstrated the need for that organization to extend its jurisdiction to monitor animals' care in off-set locations where they are kept between shooting sessions.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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