Animals wranglers who worked on Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey say the production company is responsible for the deaths of up to 27 animals. The American Humane Association, which is overseeing animal welfare on the films, said the animals were killed after being kept in farms filled with "death traps," reports the Fox News.
A spokesman for Peter Jackson acknowledged that horses, goats, chickens and one sheep died at a farm near Wellington where around 150 animals were housed for the forthcoming movies. The wranglers say the farm was unsuitable for horses because it was peppered with broken-down fences and sinkholes and that they repeatedly raised their concerns with the production company, owned by Warner Bros. One wrangler said he buried three horses, six goats, six sheep and a dozen chickens. Two more horses are said to have suffered serious injuries but survived. Wrangler Chris Langridge said he was hired as a horse trainer in November 2010 overseeing 50 horses but immediately became concerned at the suitability of the farm. He said the first horse to die was named Rainbow. "When I arrived at work in the morning, the pony was still alive but his back was broken. He'd come off a bank at speed and crash-landed. He was in a bad state," he said. Rainbow has been slated as a "hobbit horse," though was euthanized before making it on screen. A week later, a horse named Doofus got caught in fencing and sliced open its leg. That horse survived, though others didn't.
The animal deaths come after HBO cancelled their horse racing series Luck in March after three thoroughbred horses died during production. The network said it pulled the Dustin Hoffman starring show because it could not guarantee future accidents. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hits theaters on December 14, 2012.