Some 27 animals reportedly died during filming for The Hobbit, drawing outrage from animal activists who call the deaths tragic and unnecessary. The various creatures died while in the care of the farm that was being used by the movie's production team in New Zealand.
Chris Langridge, a "wrangler" at the farm, told AP the farm contained "death traps" like bluffs and sinkholes. He said he tried to fill in the holes and install fencing to protect the animals, but his efforts proved futile.
Here's the death toll, according to Langridge:
The first horse to die was a miniature named Rainbow.
In addition to the "death traps," wranglers said the causes of death ranged from dogs mauling unprotected chickens to goats freezing to death to worms infesting animals through bad feed.
The American Humane Association, the organization charged with overseeing the safety of all of the animal actors used in filming, released a statement on the report:
In 2011 while filming was being conducted in New Zealand, the production company made us aware that some of the animal actors being used for the production had died while on a farm that was being used only as housing. None of the animals in question died during filming action or were being used as animal actors when they died. As our jurisdiction does not encompass off set activities, our on-set representative had not previously conducted a review of the farm. Nevertheless, after the deaths, upon the request by the production company, we traveled to the farm and conducted a thorough examination. We made safety recommendations to the animals' living areas. The production company followed our recommendations and upgraded fence and farm housing, among other things. Working together with the production company, we were able to increase safety for animals on the farm."
Matt Dravitzki, spokesman for the movie's director, Peter Jackson, said the deaths were from natural causes.
You can sign an online petition courtesy of PETA here to show your disgust at the deaths. In case you're not that committed here's what the statement reads:
I was shocked to learn that several horses, chickens, goats, and sheep allegedly died during production of The Hobbit.
Hurting and killing animals for a film is unacceptable and I refuse to see movies that do.
With the cutting edge CGI technology producers have at their fingertips, using animals in films is never necessary. If they decide to use animals, producers need to hold themselves responsible for animal wellbeing on and off the set.
I look forward to seeing your action in future films to prevent additional animal abuse under your watch.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be released worldwide in December.