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­‘Hobbit’ movie a death sentence for working animals

Published time: November 19, 2012 17:07
Edited time: November 19, 2012 21:07
A giant Gollum creature from the "Hobbit" movie catches a fish on the ceiling of Wellington AIrport on October 31, 2012. (AFP Photo/Marty Melville)

A giant Gollum creature from the "Hobbit" movie catches a fish on the ceiling of Wellington AIrport on October 31, 2012. (AFP Photo/Marty Melville)

The making of ‘The Hobbit’ movie for release this month has resulted in the deaths of at least 27 animals, wranglers involved in the film say. The main cause seems to have been poor accommodation and treatment of animals away from the set.

According to the American Humane Association supervising the way animals are treated on films, the animals were not harmed during the actual filming, Associated Press reports.

Wranglers working with the animals on the picture complained that the conditions at the farm that stabled the horses, goats and other animals were unsuitable. “Bluffs, sinkholes and broken-down fencing” were named among the most troubling "death traps" for the animals, many of which died of severe injuries.

Despite their complaints the farm continued to be used, wranglers told AP.

It has been officially confirmed by director Peter Jackson’s spokesperson on Monday that several horses, goats, chickens and one sheep died at the farm near Wellington that housed around 150 animals for the films.

The spokesman, Matt Dravitzki, said some deaths were caused by natural reasons while others could have been avoided if necessary precautions had been taken in time. He claims that the production company reacted immediately to improve conditions after two horses whose lives could have been saved, died.

"We do know those deaths were avoidable and we took steps to make sure it didn't happen again," he said.

The unexpected scandal emerged around the 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,' just days before the film’s premiere in Wellington scheduled for November 28. The film is the first of a planned $500 million trilogy.

Animal rights defenders PETA plan to rally against the film in New Zealand, the US and the UK.

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