The Hobbit and its director Sir Peter Jackson are making
headlines around the world amid allegations the production
company is responsible for the deaths of up to 27
One week out from the film's world premiere, animal wrangers
involved in the making of the Hobbit trilogy told the
Associated Press that a farm near Wellington that housed
animals used in the production was filled with "bluffs,
sinkholes and other death traps''.
Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals has said it will protest at the film's premieres in
New Zealand, America and Britain.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is set to have its world
premiere in Wellington next Wednesday.
A spokesman for director Peter Jackson has not denied animals
died at the farm, but said some of the deaths were from
The spokesman, Matt Dravitzki, said the deaths of two horses
were avoidable, but said the production company moved quickly
to improve conditions after they died.
But one wrangler told the Associated Press that he buried
three horses, about six goats, six sheep and 12 chickens in
his time working at the farm.
Wrangler Chris Langridge said the first horse to die was a
miniature names 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
"He was in a bad state,'' he told AP.
A week later another horse, named Doofus, got caught in
fencing and sliced his leg open. He survived.
But shortly later another horse named Claire was found dead
with its head submerged in a stream after it fell over a
Wrangler Johnny Smythe told AP that no autopsy was performed
on another horse which died in the stables.
He said the horse was bloated and its intestines were full of
a yellow liquid.
He alleges the horse died of digestive problems as the result
of new feed.
Smythe was fired in October 2011 after arguing about the
treatment of the animals.
Since AP reported on the mistreatment of the animals, news
agencies around the world have picked up the story, including
the Hollywood Reporter, The Daily Mail and The Mirror.
A statement to the Hollywood Reporter from Sir Jackson and
the Hobbit filmmakers today said the films' producers take
animal welfare very seriously and any incidents which
occurred were immediately investigated and appropriate action
"This includes hundreds of thousands of dollars that were
spent on upgrading housing and stable facilities in early
They completely rejected allegations that 27 animals died due