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Animal wranglers involved in the making of "The Hobbit" movie trilogy say the production company is responsible for the deaths of up to 27 animals, largely because they were kept at a farm filled with bluffs, sinkholes and other "death traps."

The American Humane Association, which is overseeing animal welfare on the films, says no animals were harmed during the actual filming. But it also says the wranglers' complaints highlight shortcomings in its oversight system, which monitors film sets but not the facilities where the animals are housed and trained.

A spokesman for trilogy director Peter Jackson on Monday acknowledged that horses, goats, chickens and one sheep died at the farm near Wellington where about 150 animals were housed for the movies, but he said some of the deaths were from natural causes.

The spokesman, Matt Dravitzky, agreed that the deaths of two horses were avoidable, and said the production company moved quickly to improve conditions after they died.

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," the first movie in the planned $500 million trilogy, is scheduled to launch with a red-carpet premiere Nov. 28 in Wellington and will open at theaters in the U.S. and around the world in December. The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says it's planning protests at the premieres in New Zealand, the U.S. and the U.K.

The Associated Press spoke to four wranglers who said the farm near Wellington was unsuitable for horses because it was peppered with bluffs, sinkholes and broken-down fencing. They said they repeatedly raised concerns about the farm with their superiors and the production company, owned by Warner Bros., but it continued to be used. They say they want their story aired publicly now to prevent similar deaths in the future.

One wrangler said that over time he buried three horses, as well as about six goats, six sheep and a dozen chickens. The wranglers say two more horses suffered severe injuries but survived.

Wrangler Chris Langridge said he was hired as a horse trainer in November 2010, overseeing 50 or so horses, but immediately became concerned that the farm was full of "death traps." He said he tried to fill in some of the sinkholes, made by underground streams, and even brought in his own fences to keep the horses away from the most dangerous areas. Ultimately, he said, it was an impossible task.

'The Hobbit' animal deaths

Partial article above from the link provided. But apparently the farm conditions these animals were placed on were horrendous. How did these horses, goats and other animals slip through the cracks, practically ignored? Should the Wranglers have gone to outside sources since their voices were being ignored and in one apparent case, fired? Some of the horrific deaths and injuries really shocked me. Especially since it could have been prevented.

I haven't heard of conditions being so bad for such a big budget movie before. Anyone have thoughts on all this?
It's absolutely disgusting and in my opinion, one commenter had gotten it right... after seeing such deplorable conditions for the animals, the wranglers and animal agencies should have gathered their animals, and left immediately because no animal deserves such cruelty.
buried? they ******** buried good food?!?!?!?

yeah, they should have cooked those ******** up. seriously. if you are gonna kill something, you eat it.
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Yeaaah, sounds like they weren't paying any attention. I'm glad that the concern is being raised, although I knew PETA would be involved somehow (never mind that PETA kills more animals than it saves rolleyes )

Though it's terrible what happened, I don't know who would be at fault. They really need to look out for situations like this. If I were the owner of my animal, I would try to take him out as quickly as possible. Seriously....sink holes?
Oh stop's avatar

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lazy bastards.
Little Rana's avatar

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Holy s**t. I was really looking forward to the movie... this certainly puts a damper on things.
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without evidence I cannot say if its real or not. I need photos
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i've also heard it was made up, so i dunno what to believe
ProjectLazy's avatar

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Everyone complains about how many animals they killed.

How many animals got eaten on the set of Lord of the Rings? 6 years Thousands of people.
ProjectLazy's avatar

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Peter Jackson can make it up by holding vegetarion tuesdays on his next epic. Save 100 cows.
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... thats sad but I'm still gonna see the movie.
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I agree it's awful, but... I don't think the film crew themselves actually sound at fault. Since they don't really have control over the sheltering of the animals it's sort of one just one specific team's hands.
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That's sad. Whoever was in charge of choosing the farm should be ashamed.
I haven't heard about something like this happening on such a big project in a long, long time. Its a shame.
General Snicker-Doodle's avatar

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That's a shame. It's certainly not going to stop me from seeing the movie, though.

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