Director Peter Jackson has today issued a statement over allegations of animal cruelty on the set of his epic film, The Hobbit. Allegations that 27 animals have died during filming due to unsafe conditions on the farm they were being housed at were raised by animal wranglers, themselves working on the film.
It has been confirmed by the American Humane Association (which oversee’s the use of animals on set) that no animals were actually harmed during filming. However a spokesperson for Jackson’s company said that the deaths of two horses were “avoidable and we took steps to make sure it didn’t happen again.”
Mark Stubis, a spokesman for the AHA, said that his group did inspect the farm but that the deaths highlight a loophole in their oversight of the use of animals on film sets.
“We would love to be able to monitor the training of animals and the housing of animals,” Stubis said. “It’s something we are looking into. We want to make sure the animals are treated well all the time.”
Wrangler Chris Langridge was hired as a horse wrangler in December 2010, but quit after just two months after injuries to two horse resulted in one being put down. Langridge described the animal facilities as being full of “death traps.”
However, Jackson has hit back at these allegations and issued an official, and rather stern statement:
“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 Hobbit 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 filming.
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”
It would be a terrible thing to have this sort of negative press hanging over such a beloved and anticipated project, so let’s hope that Jackson and his team make good on investigating, and hopefully clearing this up very soon.
However, it has also been reported that people for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are planning protests at both the US, UK and New Zealand premieres of the film.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey arrives in UK cinemas December 13th.
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