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Wranglers say ‘Hobbit’ animals died on unsafe farm

November 20, 2012 • Entertainment


People walk by the Embassy Theater where a giant statue of the character Gandalf from the upcoming movie “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” overlooks the passersby in Wellington, New Zealand, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. Animal wranglers involved in the making of “The Hobbit” movie trilogy say the production company is responsible for the deaths of up to 27 animals, largely because they were kept at a farm filled with bluffs, sinkholes and other “death traps.” (AP photo/Nick Perry)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Animal wranglers involved in the making of “The Hobbit” movie trilogy say the production company is responsible for the deaths of up to 27 animals, largely because they were kept at a farm filled with bluffs, sinkholes and other “death traps.”

The American Humane Association, which is overseeing animal welfare on the films, says no animals were harmed during the actual filming. But it also says the wranglers’ complaints highlight shortcomings in its oversight system, which monitors film sets but not the facilities where the animals are housed and trained.

A spokesman for trilogy director Peter Jackson on Monday acknowledged that horses, goats, chickens and one sheep died at the farm near Wellington where about 150 animals were housed for the movies, but he said some of the deaths were from natural causes.

The spokesman, Matt Dravitzki, agreed that the deaths of two horses were avoidable, and said the production company moved quickly to improve conditions after they died.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” the first movie in the planned $500 million trilogy, is scheduled to launch with a red-carpet premiere Nov. 28 in Wellington and will open at theaters in the U.S. and around the world in December.

The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says it’s planning protests at the premieres in New Zealand, the U.S. and the U.K.

Kathy Guillermo, a senior vice president at PETA, said whistleblowers on The Hobbit contacted the organization after it had Login to read more

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