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Up To 27 Animals Died On Unsafe Farm Linked To ‘Hobbit’ Film

27 animals died on farm related to The Hobbit

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?

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4 Responses to “Up To 27 Animals Died On Unsafe Farm Linked To ‘Hobbit’ Film”

  1. Censor Ship Much

    The person who is most at fault in the animal abuse cases is not Peter Jackson. It is the Animal Coordinator Steve Old.
    He was responsible for leasing that farm which was a hilly sheep farm unsuitable for horses. Several other suitable properties were put forward by the horse trainer that would have cost the same amount.
    He was also responsible for hiring staff that were not qualified to look after horses and vetoed every attempt of the horse trainer to hire suitable staff. He also prevented the horse trainer from making sensible training decisions. He insisted on letting his girlfriend train horses even though she was not qualified to even be riding them and caused many problems with their training when she did ride them. He also insisted on other unqualified people being allowed to ride horses.
    Steve Old also did not put any safe and appropriate training facilities in place. This was because he wanted to ensure he got the job by coming in under the budget outlined by another more qualified Animal Coordinator. He prevented the horse trainer from putting any facilities in place other than those that the horse trainer paid for out of his own pocket.
    Steve Old turned a blind eye to wilful abuse of animals – one case in which his own father was the abuser of a pig. This same person – Les Old – also sexually harassed a female staff member. When she told Steve that Les had groped her Steve fired her.
    Steve used production money and resources on his own private projects such as The Great NZ Trek. He pulled staff members away from caring for the animals on the film and sent them to do work on projects elsewhere during which time they were paid with film money.
    He bullied staff members into keeping quiet about any negative aspects of their work and told them they would be fired if they didn't fall into line.
    The head horse trainer, another horse trainer and other wranglers resigned from the film after two months because their complaints about animal welfare were ignored and were not passed on to people higher up in the chain of command. Emails were sent after they resigned (in Feb2011) detailing everything that was dangerous and needed to be rectified. I understand that these emails have only recently been passed on to Peter Jackson.