'Hobbit' Producers Reject PETA Abuse Claims

Filmmakers say they took 'extraordinary measures' to safeguard animals

the hobbit
James Fisher
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
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Peter Jackson and the producers of The Hobbit have released a statement denying allegations that up to 27 animals died due to poor conditions at the farm where they lived during filming of the highly-anticipated movie, Zap2it reports.

"The producers completely reject the accusations that 27 animals died due to mistreatment during the making of the films," reads the statement. "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." 

The film and its producers have been under attack from the animal rights organization PETA following the publication of an Associated Press story in which wranglers on set claimed that the farm was filled with bluffs, sinkholes and other "death traps." The producers claim that any incident involving an animal on set was brought to their attention, investigated and dealt with, including spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve the facilities of the animals in early 2011. 

While the producers noted that the American Humane Association monitored the use of all animals on set, they also pointed out that over 50-percent of shots using animals in The Hobbit were done using computer generated images--a direct response to PETA's accusation that Jackson could have made the film without using a single animal. 

In particular, allegations of the "hobbling" of a horse caused much outrage, but Jackson wrote on Facebook that "no evidence of such a practice was found to have occurred at any time." He went on to say: "To date, the only horse wranglers whose treatment of animals fell below the production’s standard of care seem to be the two wranglers who have chosen to level this new accusation on the eve of the premiere of the first Hobbit film and who were dismissed by the production over a year ago. Reports of their actions are documented in several written statements dating back to October 2011."