Two New Zealand newspapers report that a former wrangler who worked on The Hobbit alleges that “incompetence” caused the deaths of several animals used in the production.
Both papers report that the ex-wrangler mounted a protest outside a farm in Porirua, where the animals were kept. He is calling for an investigation into the deaths of the animals.
He alleges incompetence in the deaths of three horses used in the production, as well as six sheep, three goats and 10 chickens. The claims are rejected by the farm’s management.
UPDATE: The American Humane Association has given a statement to TheOneRing.net saying that its guidelines for the safe use of animals were followed throughout the Hobbit production.
Mr Smythe said he was sacked from the production in October 2011 after voicing concerns about animal welfare.
According to Kapi-Mana News, Hobbit production company 3Foot7 did not deny that the horses had died while The Hobbit was filming.
Through both Kapi-Mana News and Citylife Porirua News, Hobbit production company 3Foot7 released the following statement:
Throughout production we have worked closely with, and been monitored by, the American Humane Association and have taken great care to follow their guidelines.
We also work with a local veterinary surgeon to ensure the ongoing health and welfare of all the animals in our charge. The production has complete and ongoing confidence in the integrity of, and care provided by, its animal team.
Farm manager Ross Berry rejects Mr Smythe’s claims of neglect. He told Citylife Porirua News that the production company “never skimped” on expense.
“If there was a problem with an animal, the vets would come immediately,” he said.
Asked about specific animal deaths, he said there had been no deaths due to cruelty or mistreatment.
“I would be the first to jump up and down,” Mr Berry said.
TheOneRing.net spoke to the editor at Kapi-Mana News who said that the paper was currently seeking additional comment from both 3Foot7 and farm management. TheOneRing.net will keep readers up-to-date with further developments with this story.
UPDATE: The American Humane Association has given a statement to TheOneRing.net saying that its guidelines for the safe use of animals were followed throughout the Hobbit production. Read the statement in full here.