27 Animals Died During Making of The Hobbit, Say Handlers

  • Share
  • Read Later
Jason Redmond / REUTERS
Jason Redmond / REUTERS

Peter Jackson, director of the Hobbit trilogy

In the upcoming film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Bilbo Baggins encounters myriad dangers. But no one expected the animals that appeared in the $500 million trilogy to do the same in real life.

According to a report by the Associated Press, animal wranglers hired to oversee some 150 animals used in the films say 27 of them died because they were housed on a treacherous farm full of “death traps,” including bluffs, sinkholes and jagged fencing. The dead include a miniature pony called Rainbow, hired as a hobbit horse, who crashed off a bank on the farm and broke his back. When the wrangler found him in the morning, he was still alive, and later had to be euthanized.

The other dead animals include a horse named Claire (found with her head in a stream after toppling off a bluff), six goats, six sheep and a dozen chickens that were reportedly torn apart by dogs on two different occasions. Two other horses, Molly and Doofus, got caught in fencing and ripped their legs open, suffering significant injuries.

The wranglers for the movies say they tried to alert their bosses and production company behind The Hobbit to how dangerous the New Zealand farm was, but the animals were not relocated.

(MORE: The Hobbit: What We Know So Far About Peter Jackson’s Epic Trilogy)

One wrangler, Chris Langridge, hired in November 2010 to oversee 50 horses, said he tried to plug some of the sinkholes and repair the fences himself. In the end, however, the task was too big: he was the one who found Rainbow the pony dying of a broken back. Langridge and his wife Lynn, also a wrangler, quit the production in February 2011 after witnessing several animals get hurt. They subsequently sent a letter to The Hobbit trilogy’s unit-production manager, Brigitte Yorke, describing the situation on the farm. Yorke replied with a request for more information, which the Langridges provided. They didn’t hear from her again.

Another wrangler, Johnny Smyth, said that even after Claire the horse died and the horses were moved to stables, the deaths continued. He alleges that a horse named Zeppelin died from stomach problems after being given a new kind of feed, though no autopsy was performed and veterinary records say the horse died of a broken blood vessel. Smyth says he was fired from his post in October 2011 after a disagreement with his boss about the animals’ welfare.

The Hobbit director Peter Jackson’s spokesperson acknowledged to the Associated Press that two horses had died unnecessarily, adding that the production company had taken swift action to remedy the situation, upgrading the animal housing in 2011 at a cost of thousands of dollars. A representative of the American Humane Association, which investigated the farm in late 2011, said the AHA “made safety recommendations to the animals’ living areas. The production company followed our recommendations and upgraded fence and farm housing, among other things.”

According to Jackson’s spokesperson, the production company of The Hobbit no longer uses the farm in question to house animals. He added that Jackson had adopted three pigs used in the making of the trilogy, the first instalment of which will premiere on Nov. 28 in Wellington, New Zealand.

272 comments
jean.lezcano
jean.lezcano

So how did the goats and sheep died? Chickens die that way all the time in any farm, not nice but that's how it is, only way to avoid it is to have them all caged but them that'll be inhuman, also putting down the dogs will be inhuman... So... And how come the pony crashed off a bank on the night? Usually you leave your horses well secured in their pens, if it wandered out that'll be pretty strange, if the doors are not secure you never leave an animal just there, a bad doors is easily fixed if you care so much for the animal you could go tithe warehouse spend some 50 bucks and fix any broken door. If you ask me, if the conditions were really so bad I'll just take a video and post it saying it was PETA, nothing moves large corporations faster than bad press.

MitzyTait-zeller
MitzyTait-zeller

People are basing an opinion on a very few facts here, there are very little details and it doesn't sound as though any animals were harmed during actual filming but perhaps an oversight by the animal caregivers. 

For those of you commenting about how horrid and cruel it all is for the making of a film perhaps you should do more research, horses and ponies that have been cared for all of their lives are discarded on a daily basis and go to slaughter. More than 120,000 American equines (horses) were exported for slaughter in 2012. Is that not a more cruel fate? Tens of thousands of animals are treated cruelly, neglected by their owners all the time. It is time for education people and bitching about the 27 animals that died during the making of this movie just because it was publicized is pointless.

I say go see the movie and if you really love and care about animals and people maybe you should be educating others about proper care and kindness for all! 

BenedictPatrick
BenedictPatrick

thousands of dollars to spend on properly accommodating the livestock is NOTHING compared to the millions they will make from this movie. shameful what greed does.. no respect for animals at all. I won't be seeing that movie out of respect for the animals and neither should you.

GeorgeSamuelDillabough
GeorgeSamuelDillabough

The exact same article was posted during the release of the lord of the rings. total bull.


EricPazFong
EricPazFong

Cool, animal dies. What about these human in middle east? Oh, I forgot PETA don't care about human need to live from eating

NaomiAnderson
NaomiAnderson

Alright! More dog food for my pets, food on my table, and glue to shut the mouths of the morons at PETA.

SarahClairePicton
SarahClairePicton

This is disgusting, what is being done about it? Thanks for posting this... Will definitely share to everyone in Cape Town - it's showing at the moment down the road. 

NandaLinnAung
NandaLinnAung

it's tough to make a film in the middle of nowhere.. sad to see animals died..

syzygysb
syzygysb

Too sad,  the whole debacle.  Animals, those in our care,  trust us and look to us to protect them and keep them from harm.  This story made me feel very angry at whomever was in charge of animal safety.  I hope the person responsible is properly punished. And Peter Jackson must make certain that this never happens again,  while the animals are on his watch.

ShawnLa
ShawnLa

Oh and these allegations are from PETA. Case closed.

ShawnLa
ShawnLa

Ben hur- 1 person and 5 horses died.

Flicka (2006) two horses killed

Apocalypse Now (1979) Water buffalo killed live on film at the end of the movie

Luck (tv show) 3 dead horses

The Adventures Of Milo and Otis (1986/1989) Rumored 20 kittens killed while filming

And a ton of other movies and tv s hows where animals were killed.

ShawnLa
ShawnLa

Animals die. Having been raised on a farm, it doesn't sound that unrealistic for the amount of time it took to film these films. Accidents happen, animals get loose, it's how the world works.

MichelleMorris
MichelleMorris

I know that my family and I will NOT be going to see or rent this movie and I WILL be sharing this with all of my facebook friends as I am sure that they will do the same. I am horribly ashamed of the humans that were involved with this movie and I believe that they should be held responsible for animal cruelty for each count since they each knew of the dangers that they were involving these innocent animals in that did not have a choice to be included in the movie( unlike the humans)

selah.elise
selah.elise

Good thing there's a billion more chickens, horses, goats, and sheep in the world, huh?

SammieArnold1
SammieArnold1

Yet they wont get done by Animal Welfare will they!?

LeonardCat
LeonardCat

TROLL ALERT! (And I don't mean the hobbit kind.) Some of the people making comments here have a gigantic attitude problem and seem to be throwing bait. What do a person's dietary habits have to do with the story published? Everyone knows that ALL movie studios are in it to make profit, and ALL production companies will cut corners if they can get away with it. This is not about whether the finished movie has cinematic merit. It probably does. But animals must be well treated, even when the movie is shot outside the US. 

TaylorDeree
TaylorDeree

Well, that sure puts a damper on the story.

CVActor1
CVActor1

I would be VERY surprised if at the end of the film the "no animals were hurt during the making of this film" quote appears. But I don't plan to see it - PARTICULARLY after reading this. Those POOR animals.

Karma13
Karma13

Has anyone, who is justifying the production company's response, paid attention to the dates listed in the article? They were told by the wranglers for several months that the property was unsafe and animals were dying. One wrangler and his wife quit in Feb. 2011, because there was no improvement. It wasn't until the AHA got involved several months later in late 2011 that the company took any action to remedy the situation. So, you still think they took the correct course of action? It appears to me that they were more likely trying to avoid fines and/or punishments handed down from that inspection. The issues should have been handled when they occurred and when they were brought to light by the wranglers, not after the inspection when they were told to make the changes.

LittleBlackBird
LittleBlackBird

i am not vegetarian. however, any animal knowingly being abused for a movie, is disturbing in every light. with the amount of money movie producers make, i would expect every possible course of action to be taken to secure all animals and have then treated humanely. i was planning on going to see this movie in the theaters. now, i will not. for me, the movies are a special treat, for they are just to expesnsive anymore. i will watch the movie, after it comes out on dvd , and will probably burn it from a friend.  when i do go out, i would like to know my money is not going towards people who just dont care about animals to make a buck. thats the bottom point. it has nothing to do with who eats meat or doesnt, its about the unaccepatble abuse and neglect. 

imaginaryfriend101
imaginaryfriend101

Thank you for sharing this, I won't go to the cinema  to watch that movie. Shame, because I liked the Lord of the Rings trilogy, however I do care for animals so... bye bye Hobbit! 

ysme
ysme

@MitzyTait-zeller  Due to your research about horses and ponies being discarded on a daily basis means this is something of no importance?  The slaughter of animals happening on a much greater scale somewhere else does not make these events insignificant nor irrelevant; they are part of a whole.  Do yourself a favor and do not throw your supposed facts and education to try and reinforce your, obviously, ignorant and irrelevant argument.  Idiots like you are the true animals that should be discarded.

RonnieVCollins
RonnieVCollins

@EricPazFong   If more people not even if the whole world went Vegan but just more went Vegan there would be more food to go around for all humans including the humans you speak of in the middle east. Having said that the lives of 27 horses mattered to at the very least the 27 horses. Now if you are outraged at this and continue to inflict unnecessary harm to animals by living a lifestyle that is less than Vegan you aren't really being morally consistent or logical and you are only pretending to have a virtue you don't actually have and are a speciesist. As far as human beings basic need to eat to exist we can be perfectly happy and healthy by consuming a well planned Vegan diet despite what the meat egg and dairy industries try to trick people into thinking. I admit this is at least somewhat shocking and very disappointing from a LOTR fan point of view and I really cant feel good about spending money to go see this. No I think I'll be fine with watching a steamed bootleg over the internet instead.

Tamalin
Tamalin

@ShawnLa and that is sad that is how people think. If people took steps to make the world a better place but it is to easy not to.

ShawnLa
ShawnLa

@MichelleMorris Give me a break. There's a big difference between cruelty and deaths that occur do to nature. 

ShawnLa
ShawnLa

@Karma13 A few animals died to accidents in the terrain. That happens. Just riding a horse puts them in danger, and in fact horse's are pretty fragile animals. I was raised on horses, have owned dozens, and have lost a few to the horses own actions, IE, broke leg in a gopher hole, etc.

ShawnLa
ShawnLa

@LittleBlackBird How were the animals abused? Neglected, debatable. Abused, no. Animals die, accidents happen.

wth?
wth?

@imaginaryfriend101 Did you read the entire article? How about the part where the studio, on their own dime, upgraded someone else's farm to make it safe, and then moved the animals? Or how most of the animals that died were chickens who were eaten by wild dogs? 

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

@imaginaryfriend101 

...yet, assuming you're not a vegetarian/vegan, you would have no problem with going to the grocery store to buy meat (which comes from butchered animals)...so, "bye bye grocery store" too?  :)

TaraSimpson
TaraSimpson

The allegations came from the wranglers who witnessed this first hand, PETA took the facts and ran with it.

MagisterPhillip
MagisterPhillip

@Tamalin @ShawnLa You just keep pretending it's that easy. It'll make your snap judgments and baseless condemnations easier to justify. Welcome to being part of the problem, Tamalin.

Patrich
Patrich

@ShawnLa @MichelleMorris

Animals will die over time due to natural causes, and several of the animals that died during the production of this (wonderful, by the way, can't wait for the other two) movie roamed out of their pens/stables/wherever they were, and if life were to work like you would WANT it to, none of these animals would be able to have air, a place to walk, or happiness.

Animal Cruelty involves either knowingly ignoring an animals dangers to itself, usually coming form it's environment, and not attempting to change it so that way it is no longer at danger. Or purposely degrading it's life and causing strife to it's being, or physically striking it.

Neither of these things happened, so learn how to read situations from the other side, and to expand your point of view

Karma13
Karma13

@ShawnLa  We own horses too. We travel, trail ride, and do shows with them. I'm well aware that they can become injured, but does that mean they should be left in an environment that is unsafe?
 One of our geldings got caught up in a fence trying to get to a neighbor's new horse. We freed him, vetted him, and moved him from that pasture so it wouldn't happen again. We have never lost any of our horses to anything other then old age.
 The facts in this article seem to point to irresponsibility on their part, because they were aware of the unsafe conditions. Why would they willingly continue to keep these animals in an unsafe location without attempting to make repairs to keep them from harm? The dates speak for themselves. They did nothing until an inspection was forced upon them. By doing nothing they allow more animals to become injured and even die. I find that unacceptable. 

TaraSimpson
TaraSimpson

Neglect is abuse. Ask any judge, idiot. These accidents were preventable but because they chose to do nothing about it, animals died, that is considered animal cruelty.

Krista
Krista

@wth?The studio chose that farm to begin with, and they didn't upgrade or move the animals when the wranglers were warning them of the problems, obviously, or 27 animals wouldn't have died.  Also, it says "dogs" not "wild dogs".  They could've been farm dogs, or neighbor dogs for all we know

Tamalin
Tamalin

@imaginaryfriend keep the compassion do not let people like mrbomb use excues for trying to make you think of money instead of compassion.

TaraSimpson
TaraSimpson

I am not a vegan but I do eat cruelty free products. I've done my research to find which brands are cruelty free. Not everything in the grocery store come from bad farms although most are.

Tamalin
Tamalin

what excuse you have for me @mrbomb13 I am vegan? I am and will always fight for compastion, kindness, and teaching people the same. I will not people bully any one about kindness. 

MagisterPhillip
MagisterPhillip

@TaraSimpson "Allegations", is the key word here. All they are at this Time, (pun intended) are ALLEGATIONS. Not established facts

ysme
ysme

@MagisterPhillip @TaraSimpson  Conspiracy? Okay who's blowing it up now?  No one here is saying that, but it WAS negligence..


negligence

ˈnegləjəns/

noun

1. failure to take proper care in doing something


I.E. the failure to take proper care of the animals and maintain their temporary homes.  

Your example is hardly relevant to the reality of most of these comments.  

I propose we toss you onto a mine field.  If you die, we'll allege it was your fault for not watching your step.

MagisterPhillip
MagisterPhillip

@TaraSimpson That is a completely baseless and impossible to prove accusation, Tara. Handlers "ALLEGE" (take note, allegations are not facts,) that there could have been improvements. Taking a sad series of mishaps and trying to blow them up into some kind of 'conspiracy' or act of 'willful cruelty' is like trying to turn an accidental plane crash into an evil plot by the wicked airline manufacturers to promote their diabolical plan to exterminate humankind, one plane-load at a time.

TaraSimpson
TaraSimpson

Actually, these animals died from negligence. The wranglers in charge warned and tried to do something about the living conditions that posed risks to no avail. The animals wouldn't have died if they were housed in better conditions.

TaraSimpson
TaraSimpson

You're obviously not reading the right story. 27 animals died, not 14! The "farm" they housed them on was not in good conditions and even after being warned, they did nothing.

Karma13
Karma13

@ShawnLa @Karma13 Wow, I guess you choose to overlook the obvious point I was making originally... It took them several months before making those attempts to remedy the reported issues.
 Horses can become hurt in fencing, we've covered that. However, when you become aware of a potential problem with the fencing, or any other hazard, and you make no attempt to remedy the issues when they happen you are then ignoring your responsibility to ensure the animals' safety. If they had resolved the issues when they first became aware of them the other horses wouldn't have been in harms way.

ShawnLa
ShawnLa

@Karma13 @ShawnLa 14 animals died. No report on how the goats or sheep died. One horse died to something that was beyond their control from something wrong with the feed. Two were injured to fencing, and as you know that happens with horses. Two died from falls. Who knows what happened there, sounds like there was a weakness in the fencing and the horses wandered out/got spooked/ ran over cliffs. 

It happens. They remedied the problems.

Tamalin
Tamalin

sorry keep your fight going to keep this moving looking good.

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

@Tamalin 

Please refer to my above-reply, and do not misconstrue my words.

Krista
Krista

@mrbomb13 Suggesting that simply because someone eats meat, that they shouldn't work at all towards animal welfare is absurd.  As a vegetarian I am very happy when someone chooses to simply stop eating meat one day a week, for instance, because every little bit helps.  Should we tell someone that because they're not vegan, they shouldn't do anything at all that benefits animals?  Talk about shooting the animal rights movement in the foot.

paul4paulville
paul4paulville

@LittleBlackBird @Arcanum55 @Tamalin @imaginaryfriend101  

@mrbomb13  It's people like you that actually disprove the idea that man is the highest form of animal. Now,

I don't care about animals, and I don't even have a pet. But this is not about animals anymore. It's about people, and their ability to have compassion over other beings. Time knows that SOME people care about animals. That's why they wrote this. And I am pretty sure that the author couldn't care less about what you think. Because the truth is, if someone wants to fight for these kinds of things, things they care about, there's really nothing you can do but let them be. Who are you to tell people what or what not to do, anyway? You're just a j*rk who would say anything he wants. 

Man is a rational animal, they say. But your lack of regard for other people's feelings and plain lack of ability to care for things other than yourself makes me think that the "rational" part does not exist in you. And who cares if mirror neurons don't exist? What @trademarkanimal was saying was that you don't have empathy, plain and simple. And I agree.

This is just a news. Probably a popularity stunt for the movie. If you do not care about it, then just leave the people who do alone. Don't judge them! And don't insinuate that their comments are hypocritical.

Now, I know that since you're smart, you'd probably use a lot of what i said against me, especially the part where I said "Don't judge them!" because it probably seemed like I judged you too. A lot. And I am sorry. But I just had to speak against the mean things that you said. Can't help it. This is actually my first ever comment, and probably the last because I am only ever here to read stuff and not say stuff. I didn't even have an account here until now. So don't bother to come up with something elaborate to rebut. Just take my advice and leave the animal lovers here alone.

Thank you.

Arcanum55
Arcanum55

@mrbomb13 @Tamalin The same regard for Actor safety should of been worked out and executed with competency for the animals at whatever cost. A pet pony is not a chicken and shouldn't be confused as one. I do eat animals as animals eat animals. But I work hard for the Humane treatment of them weather a food source or a neglected pet. To me they are just as important as us and should have similar rights to us regarding treatment and safety. How many actors or crew died on set? The level of treatment was substandard and whomever arranged and oversaw their accommodations should be fined large and fired immediately.

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

@Tamalin 

A couple of comments on your reply:

1) I don't think you read my comment carefully enough.  It's not about excuses, or compassion or kindness.  My comment was about exposing hypocrisy, specifically in the instance of not seeing a movie due to alleged animal mistreatment v. not going to a grocery store due to animals getting butchered.  I was calling out the commenter on her hypocrisy.

2) I'm not aiming to 'bullly' anyone; that was your incorrect interpretation.  What I'm instead calling for is a critical discussion on the issue.