The Animal Cruelty Behind the New Hobbit Film

Animal handlers involved in the making of the new Hobbit film have blamed the production company for the death of 27 animals, reports say.

Four handlers in total are accusing producers of failing to do enough to prevent the deaths of three horses, six goats, six sheep and a dozen chickens, which died as a result of poor conditions at one contracted farm close to Wellington, New Zealand, where the trilogy was filmed. The wranglers also claim that two other horses were injured but did survive.

The wranglers contend that one horse named Shanghai had its legs tied together so that it could not move and was then left on the ground for three hours. Another horse was killed and one injured as a result of being housed with two geldings despite the geldings being deemed too aggressive to be left with other animals.

Another horse was severely injured after having had much of the muscle in her leg torn away as a result of barbed wire fencing. Other horses were fed the incorrect food and one developed what would later prove to be a fatal stomach condition.

Several goats and sheep died from worm infestations. Others, from falling into the sinkholes that were dotted around the farm.

A number of chickens were also mauled and killed by unsupervised dogs, while some were left unprotected and then were trampled by other animals.

A statement by the film’s producers reported by Variety and other sources denies responsibility:

“The producers completely reject the accusations that 27 animals died due to mistreatment during the making of the films,” read the statement in part.

“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.

“Over 55% of all shots using animals in The Hobbit are in fact computer generated; this includes horses, ponies, rabbits, hedgehogs, birds, deer, elk, mice, wild boars, and wolves,” it continued.

The statement does not, however, address the allegations that the animals died as a result of poor off-set living conditions that were preventable had the production team carried out better checks. The statement does go on to clarify, however, that the production company no longer leases the farm and that it has since moved all animals to different locations.

The American Humane Association (AHA), which oversaw animal handling on the film, clarifies that no animals were harmed during the actual filming of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” For this reason, the film was still awarded the AHA’s “No Animals Were Harmed” certificate.

The AHA points out that because the deaths were not directly related to on-set production, it has only limited powers of oversight and therefore could not take into account the off-set conditions.

“We are currently only empowered to monitor animal actors while they are working on production sets,” said American Humane Association President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert in a statement. “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 statement clarifies that in this case the AHA actually decided to go beyond its jurisdiction in order to visit, examine and make safety recommendations to improve conditions on the farm on which these deaths occurred.

“We must bring the same high degree of safety and humane treatment that has been achieved on the set to animals throughout their life, including training, housing, and safe, dignified retirement,” continued Ganzert.

This latest news will add more fuel to calls that the film industry should abandon its use of live animals altogether and instead use computer generated replacements.

PETA and other animal welfare organizations are now calling for a boycott of the films, the first of which will open to general release in December.


Related Reading:

Giraffe On “The Zookeeper” Set Dies; Whistleblower Alleges Neglect

A Woodland Home That Isn’t Just For Hobbits

Ian McKellen Stars in ‘AKT Now’ LGBT Youth Awareness Campaign

Image credit: Thinkstock.


Duane B.
.6 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

LMj Sunshine
James merritt jr6 years ago


LMj Sunshine
James merritt jr6 years ago


Michael MacPherson

The animals should have taken care of themselves unit they were needed on the set. The American Humane Association (AHA), the producers and all involves did a poor job,

So because no animals at leased none we know of were hurt on the set “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” For this reason, the film was still awarded the AHA’s “No Animals Were Harmed” certificate. Because the film industry is so rich and powerful I am sure there will be no investigation into the matter.

Michael MacPherson

The bottom line is, not enough preparation went into the comfort and health of the animals. No one thought to have animal welfare experts go to this farm with the knowledge of the animals involved, what their needs are, what food and care they need and to check over the landscape to make sure the animals during filming would not be near barbed wire, sink holes, have proper living facilities, a vet to make sure the animals did not get any infestation and have a watchful eye over the Hen's to make sure they were not harmed.

The bottom line is none of these precautions were done, very little went into the proper care of the animals and as a result 27 died. It looks like the people in charge made only made a minimal attempt to care for the animals instead of putting the money and time into getting the proper people to care for the animals. The producers and directors were so concerned a bout the actors and dead lines the animals were neglected. The farm was not checked out properly to house the animals, the horses died because the handlers were ignored when they told the producers not to put the horses with the Geldings, despite the geldings being deemed too aggressive.

So what ended up happening is the people in charge of the movie did not care about the animals and when 27 died because of the producers and AHA"s neglect, everyone had all their excuses, we did not have the money to watch the animals when they were not on the set, according to everyone involved, the anima

vicky t.
vicky T6 years ago

Maybe they'll be more careful now that they know the world is watching?

Heather K.
Heather K6 years ago

Shelly K is your comment for real? What are you droning on about?! I hope I've misunderstood what you're saying here as I actually felt sick with your twisted ramblings as you tried (and failed) to justify your desire to have sex with dogs by labeling yourself an 'inter-species humper'. Not only has your comment got nothing to do with the article but it's also disturbing that you feel justified with this type of deviant and clearly perverse behaviour. I feel sorry for any 4 legged creature in your company.

In relation to the article, I'm disappointed that Film producers have been so vague - no animal should experience any pain or distress for another's entertainment.

Shelly K.
Past Member 6 years ago


i was searching for gay-themed topics on google, when i saw a headline that went something like this: "does homosexual behavior in dogs tell me that i was born gay?". now, i realize that to equate humans' expansive understanding of life with dogs' limited understanding is just a childlike thing to do (and makes google's headline as moot a point as rick springfield telling jessie's girl that he loves her), but it did get me thinking...

if we are told that homosexual behavior in dogs says that humans are born gay, it should be legal to hump my dog who humps my leg. let me explain: if people compare humans to dogs in an effort to justify their own sexual deviancy, then inter-species sexual behavior in dogs should justify that i was born an inter-species humper. it should suggest that my having sex with dogs should not be regarded as problematic. if dogs hump members of their own gender then they were born gay, it's as simple as that. if dogs can be born gay, i was born gay also. and if dogs hump outside of their species, they were born to be inter-species humpers. if dogs can be born inter-species humpers, then people also can be. therefore, i was born an animal abuser and i should not be looked down upon when i hump dogs.

i can understand how the opposing (ahem, CONSERVATIVE) side would say that dogs are horny and that they don't care what they hump. CONSERVATIVES would probably even relate this sexual

Sarah M.
Sarah M6 years ago

Thank you for bringing this to light.

Chrysta Stoutenger

Animals die, get worms and get injured. That's just what happens, and it's not all their fault. The farmers taking care of them just weren't watchful enough. I love the movie and I don't think there animals deaths were intentional. There are times when you should speak out about animal cruelty and times when you should cram it.
Marta, you're easy to influence, aren't you?? Do you really think Peter Jackson was there killing the animals?? I don't.