The Hobbit: High Death Toll of Animals Kept on New Zealand Farm for Filming
By Hannah Osborne | November 20, 2012 1:05 AM EST
Up to 27 animals were killed during the filming of Peter Jackson's new trilogy The Hobbit because they were kept in an unsafe farm, activists have claimed.
The American Humane Association, which oversaw animal welfare during filming, said that although no animals were harmed during the actual shooting of the film, there were complaints about where the animals were housed and trained.
Four wranglers said the farm where the animals were kept was unsuitable for horses because it was covered in bluffs, sinkholes and broken fencing.
They had repeatedly raised concerns about the safety of the farm with production executives at Warner Bros but their fears were ignored.
One wrangler said he buried three horses, six goats, six sheep and a dozen chickens. Two more horses were severely injured although they survived.
Matt Dravitzki, a spokesman for Jackson, said that horses, goats, chickens and one sheep died at the farm near Wellington, New Zealand.
He confirmed 150 animals were housed for the films and said some deaths were a result of natural causes.
Two horse fatalities, however, were avoidable but at least led to improvements in conditions in the stables.
"We do know those deaths were avoidable and we took steps to make sure it didn't happen again," he said.
Chris Langridgie was hired as a horse trainer in 2010 and was responsible for overseeing 50 horses. He said he became concerned about the "death traps" on the farm, particularly sinkholes that had been created by underground streams.
He tried to fill in some of the holes and erected fencing out of his own pocket to keep horses away from dangerous areas. His attempts, however, proved futile, he said.
The first horse to die was called Rainbow. Langridgie said: "When I arrived at work in the morning, the pony was still alive but his back was broken. He'd come off a bank at speed and crash-landed. He was in a bad state."
A horse called Doofus got caught in some fencing and cut its leg open although this horse survived.
Johnny Smythe, another wrangler, said a horse called Claire was found dead shortly after Langridgie left in February 2011. She drowned in a stream after having fallen over a bluff.
Smythe was fired in October 2011 after arguing with his boss over the treatment of the animals.
The American Humane Association said it investigated the Wellington farm at the request of the production company. Mark Stubis, a spokesman for the association, said: "We made safety recommendations to the animals' living areas. The production company followed our recommendations and upgraded fence and farm housing, among other things.
"We would love to be able to monitor the training of animals and the housing of animals. It's something we are looking into. We want to make sure the animals are treated well all the time."
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, is the first of the $500m trilogy based on The Hobbit by JR Tolkien. It is due to be released in the UK on 13 December.
Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals will hold protests at the premieres in New Zealand, the US and the UK.
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- Kate Middleton Suffocated in Kensington Palace, Queen Elizabeth Reported War With The Duchess [PHOTOS]
- Brad Pitt Still in Love with Ex-Wife Jennifer Aniston, Staying with Angelina Jolie for Sake of Kids, Claims Brad's Psychic
- 2014 MTV Video Music Awards: Everything To Know [PHOTOS]
- Miranda Kerr Broke Her Silence: Not Pregnant With James Packard’s Baby [PHOTOS]
Join the Conversation
- Viral Video Missouri Mall: Back-To-School Promo Of East Hills Mall In Missouri Goes Viral As Terrible Mall Ad [WATCH VIDEO]
- New Zealand Accelerates Ban on Shark Finning
- Woman Posts Ad for Herself As 'Professional Bridesmaid' On Craigslist
- Mass Panic Over Houston's 'Blinking Lights' in the Sky; UFO Sceptics Still Not Convinced
- American Journalist Steven Sotloff at Risk of Beheading Too If US Gov’t Refuses to Pay $100 Million Ransom to Islamic State Like It Did With James Foley
- James Foley Beheading Video Has Play-Acting Portions – Video Experts Say
- Apple iPhone 6 Release Date, iPhone 6C or 6L Anticipation: Three Things Should Matter To New Phone Shoppers
- Upcoming Sony Xperia Z3 With Dual-SIM Support Gets Approved In China; Full Specifications Revealed; Amber-Coloured Xperia Z3 Tipped
- More Nexus 8/Nexus 9 Release Confirmed with More Leaks and Out of Stock Nexus 7 and 10
- James Foley: Release of Beheading Video by ISIS Meant to Attract More Recruits to Join the Cause – Intelligence
- 2015 Ford Mustang: Right-Hand Drive Pony Car To Be Available In Australia Next Year
- Google Works on Powering Up Chromebook Line to Kill Competitors, Nvidia Joins with Acer for New Killer Laptop