According to animal wranglers who worked on the Hobbit films, the production company is at fault for the death of up to 27 animals kept in harsh conditions once off the set. Apparently they were housed in a farm near the Hobbit set that was described as “filled” with “bluffs”, “sinkholes” and other “death traps.”
The American Humane Association keeps a watchful eye on movie sets during the filming of big productions like this one, but apparently once the animals leave the set, so does the AHA. Which means they don’t monitor where the animals are kept and trained. What?
Regardless of that obvious shortcoming of the AHA, someone has to take the blame for these incidents and it’s unclear who that is. The animal wranglers blame the production company, but what about the wranglers?
A spokesman for director Peter Jackson acknowledged today that horses, goats, chickens and one sheep died at the farm located near Wellington, New Zealand, where around 150 animals were kept during production of the three films, which were shot all at the same time, much like Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
The spokesman, Matt Draviski, said that some of the animals died of natural causes and that 2 of the deaths were “avoidable”, and that the production company “moved quickly” to “improve conditions” after they died.
Any way you slice it, this is bad. And horrible news. It always bums me out when you hear about innocent animals dying, especially when some of the deaths could have been prevented. But this isn’t the first time animals have been mistreated on a film or TV production set. Old Spaghetti Westerns from the 1920s and well into the 1970s showcase some pretty awful mistreatment of horses and other animals.
Recently there was that big debacle with HBO’s “Luck“, which was cancelled after the 3rd horse died during production. Obviously some more extreme measures dealing with animal care and housing is called for here. Something needs to be done about the AHA and their inspection methods on and off the set.
In the wake of this news, PETA now plans on protesting in New Zealand on December 14th, during the premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
So does this mean the end credits can’t have that “No animals were harmed during the making of this film” thing?
Question: Who do you think is to blame for this incident?