When Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is released in theaters, it will bear the American Humane Association’s acknowledgement that no animals were harmed during the filming of the movie. It seems the films animals were in more danger off the set, with as many as 27 animals dying as a result of unsafe conditions at the New Zealand farm where they were kept.
The Huffington Post reports that a spokesman for Jackson confirmed that horses, goats, chickens, and a sheep all died while at the farm near Wellington, New Zealand. The spokesman added that some died of natural causes.
NBC reports that five animal wranglers attached to the film said the farm was unsuitable to horses as a result of dangerous grounds that included sink holes and broken fencing. Wrangler Chris Langridge said the farm was full of “death traps.”
The animal deaths seemed to come from all kinds of causes. Some fell off cliffs, some contracted worms, and a dozen chickens were mauled to death by dogs. Animal rights advocacy group PETA has announced plans to protest the films premiere in response.
After the animal deaths, the farm moved to improve conditions. Specifically, after the second horse death, the horses were moved to stables.
“We do know those deaths were avoidable and we took steps to make sure it didn’t happen again,” a spokesman said.
The American Humane Association did investigate the farm at the production company’s request, and the AHA said the company then followed their safety recommendations. Unfortunately for the 27 animals that died on the farm, their investigation took place months after the first deaths.
Will the deaths of 27 animals related to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey affect your plans to see the film?