According to the American Humane Association, no animals were harmed during the filming of The Hobbit. But what about when the animals were back at the farm and not in front of the camera? Well, that’s a different story altogether.
At least four animal wranglers who worked on the Hobbit films claim that up to 27 animals died at the farm where the animals were being held during their downtime. The farm, the wranglers allege, was teeming with bluffs, sinkholes, and other “death traps.”
Here’s a partial rundown of the animal casualties:
—Rainbow, a horse, broke its back after jumping off a bluff, and had to be euthanized.
—Claire, a horse, was found with its head submerged in a stream. It jumped over a bluff.
—Zeppelin, a horse, likely died of digestive problems caused by new feed.
—Doofus, a horse, sliced its leg open on a fence, but survived.
—Six goats and six sheep died of worms and/or falling into sinkholes.
—A dozen chickens were let out of their enclosures and mauled to death by dogs.
Matt Dravitzki, a spokesman for Peter Jackson, acknowledged that the deaths of two horses were avoidable. He also stressed that the production acted quickly to improve conditions at the farm after learning of the deaths.
The Associated Press has the full story here.