27 Animals Died During Making of The Hobbit, Say Handlers

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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.

293 comments
countrygirl
countrygirl

Okay people, this is horrible, but I do have to say that it is partially Peter Jackson's fault, as he ignored their warnings about the farm, but it was the wrangler's job to watch out for the animals.  I have to say this to those of you who think those animals are meaningless; if you want to hate, don't hate a creature that didn't do anything to you.  Those animals had no choice in doing the movie, where they were housed, and who took care of them.  This is on us.  And by the way, netherhero, the wranglers have to sleep, too.  Haven't you guys ever had a pet or just a stray that you really liked?  Realize that people cared about those animals, and it's just your kind of thinking that is why people are abusing each other, murdering, and bombing.  They don't hold lives in any value.  Tell me; if you'd kill a chicken or a horse just like that, could you kill a human?  Life is life, and the sooner you accept that, the sooner you can get on with your lives.

BruceThompsonJr.
BruceThompsonJr.

This article is just stupid. "six goats, six sheep and a dozen chickens" sounds like a nice family dinner.

Netherhero
Netherhero

It's the animal wranglers' fault. They shouldn't have been letting the animals run loose where they could get hurt. When they found the pony in the morning? Why didn't he know where the pony was at all times, that is expressly his job. He's just passing the blame onto peter jackson and co, because we know who he is and it's therefore easier to place blame. It's sad that some horses died, but let's face it, they probably had pretty good lives up until that point, they didn't break their backs through labor like most poor animals would. And as far as animals being killed by dogs, that sounds like a pretty natural and normal death to me. Anyone who gets upset by predators eating prey is just being ridiculous. Anyway, the real crime is the terrible adaptation of the book.

ColbyKathleenBarlow
ColbyKathleenBarlow

People who are making this a person vs animal thing are absurd. EVERY life matters. And instead of pointing fingers and laying blame lets all agree that we need more education for the public and more compassion for our fellow earthlings.

malt7391
malt7391

Please everyone BOYCOTT the Hobbit movies, and let's see the people responsible put behind bars for a VERY LONG TIME!

JCatNY
JCatNY

Would never see those anyway, unless I wanted the movie version of Ambien.

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! 

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.

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.

JCatNY
JCatNY

@JuanLugo  After Lord of the bores, I wouldn't got near these over hyped, overly long snore fests that is the Hobbit series.

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

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.

dinkydoo
dinkydoo

@EricPazFong What does this article have to do with the Middle East? Furthermore, there is no mention of PETA but rather the American Humane Association. Next time, please read the article instead of the comments before you pass judgement. For you to choose who you have compassion for shows you have none. 


NaomiAnderson
NaomiAnderson

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

dinkydoo
dinkydoo

@NaomiAnderson Where do you see PETA? Are you serious with your comment? Perhaps some may think your dog is fodder for food depending where in the world you are. Speciesism at it's best.

LoulouVonSpiel
LoulouVonSpiel

@NaomiAnderson How did PETA end up in there? read the article before commenting and calling people you have never actually met"morons". And personally I do not support PETA in particular but it is irritating to read ANY opiniated comment from ill-informed individuals.

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.

dinkydoo
dinkydoo

@ShawnLa You people really have to start reading these articles and not just the comments. This had nothing to do with PETA. Good grief.

MagisterPhillip
MagisterPhillip

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

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.

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.

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.

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)

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.

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.

LoulouVonSpiel
LoulouVonSpiel

@Patrich @ShawnLa @MichelleMorris That's exactly the point in fact. Animal died (allegedly) because even though some problems had been hghlighted, nobody in production bothered to deal with it and the reasons they had died.  If they had been extras dying, something would have been done but animals dying is seen as important as machinery going wrong, an inconvenience but not worth the financial trouble. That's what is sad and we simply need to start looking at animal lives as precious, not just disposable.


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.

ShawnLa
ShawnLa

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