Following allegations from PETA that animals were injured and died due to mistreatment during production of Warner Brothers’ upcoming film trilogy “The Hobbit,” studio executives and the film’s producers have unequivocally denied the charges of animal cruelty.
“The producers completely reject the accusations that 27 animals died due to mistreatment during the making of the films,” said the producers in a joint statement on Monday. “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.”
The producers said that in over half of the scenes in “The Hobbit” which feature animals, computer generated replicas were employed in place of actual animals. Additionally, the crew spent several hundred thousand dollars upgrading stable and housing facilities prior to production. The statement added that any incidents that occurred that were brought to the producers’ attention were immediately investigated and appropriate action was taken.
PETA, which claimed to have received detailed information from “four whistleblowers” who worked as animal wranglers during the film’s production, has called the alleged deaths “disgraceful.”
“Two horses were run off embankments and sustained broken necks on the set of “The Hobbit” . . . Numerous goats and sheep used for the production died from worm infestations and from falling into sinkholes, and a dozen unprotected chickens were killed by dogs,” sais PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange. “Peter Jackson's films have been at the forefront of the special-effects revolution, but this production's decision to use numerous live animals and allow them to suffer needlessly and die takes the entertainment industry a giant and disgraceful step backward.”
Jackson, a New Zealand native, is most well-known for directing the Academy Award winning trilogy “Lord of the Rings” a decade ago. Similar allegations of horse abuse arose then. These charges were later proven false.
Both of the film trilogies are based on epic fantasy novels written by famed English author J. R. R. Tolkien in the early to mid-twentieth century.
The American Humane Association, which for 70-plus years has been monitoring animal use in film production and is responsible for providing the well-known “No animals were harmed” disclaimer, called the alleged deaths of 27 animals off the set “needless” and “unacceptable.”
The AHA has confirmed that no animals were harmed during the actual filming.
“We are currently only empowered to monitor animal actors while they are working on production sets,” said AHA President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert. “We do not have either the jurisdiction or funding to extend that oversight to activities or conditions off set or before animals come under our protection. There are too many incidents off the set and this must stop. It is vital that we work with the industry to bring the kind of protection we have for animals during filming to all phases of production.”
The first of the three “The Hobbit” films is scheduled to be released on Dec. 14. PETA says it will organize protests at theatres across the country when the film is shown.
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