27 animals died during making of The Hobbit
Technically, maybe it’s correct to say no animals were harmed during the filming of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”
But away from the set, when the cameras weren’t rolling, 27 animals signed up to take part in the production died, and more were injured – mostly at a New Zealand farm where they were being kept.
Animal wranglers involved in the making of “The Hobbit” movie trilogy say the production company is responsible for the deaths because it kept the animals at a farm filled with bluffs, sinkholes and other “death traps,” according to an Associated Press report.
Despite that, the movie’s credits do carry the American Humane Association’s “No animals were harmed” stamp of approval — the exact wording of which is “No animals were harmed in the making of this film.”
The AHA says its monitoring of animals is limited to the actual filming of a movie or television show, and that it lacks the manpower, funding and authority to police animals when they are away from the set.
But others, PETA included, think that’s splitting hairs.
“How can something like this happen when the unit production manager was warned and the production was monitored by the AHA,” asks PETA, which has been critical of AHA in the past, and which was involved in breaking the story.
PETA also wonders why — given the state of the art of computer graphics — live animals had to be used at all:
“This movie was directed by Peter Jackson, a master at computer-generated imagery (CGI). In a movie that features CGI dragons, ogres, and hobbits, CGI animals would have fit in perfectly. Jackson could have made The Hobbit without using a single animal—and he should have.”
AHA called the deaths “needless and unacceptable,” and said they show that there are shortcomings in the oversight system, which monitors film sets but not the facilities where the animals are housed and trained.
“We are currently only empowered to monitor animal actors while they are working on production sets,” said AHA President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert. “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.”
In January 2012, its officials noted, the AHA sent letters to industry leaders discussing, among other things, ways to improve the welfare of animals off the set — something it says can be accomplished with more funding and more authority.
AHA said the Hobbit-related injuries and deaths occurred 186 miles from the main set, and 26 miles from the soundstage. While AHA monitors did visit the farm, and make recommendations that were implemented a year ago, doing so went beyond their jurisdiction and authority, its officials say.
A spokesman for director Peter Jackson acknowledged that horses, goats, chickens and one sheep died at the farm near Wellington where about 150 animals were housed for the movies. He said some of the deaths were from natural causes or “unavoidable” and that the production company moved quickly to improve conditions after learning of the deaths.
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” the first movie in the planned $500 million trilogy, launched with a red-carpet premiere Nov. 28 in New Zealand and opens at theaters in the U.S. this month. PETA is planning to protest premieres in the 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 of its many bluffs and sinkholes, and fences in need of repair. They said they repeatedly raised concerns about the farm with their superiors and the production company, owned by Warner Bros.
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.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 4th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 27 animals, aha, american humane association, an unexpected journey, chickens, deaths, director, entertainment, filming, goats, horses, making, movie, movies, new zealand, no animals were harmed, peter jackson, sheep, the hobbit, trilogy, warner bros, warner brothers, wellington