Last week, a former wrangler who worked with animals on the set of The Hobbit mounted a protest outside the farm where the animals were kept. Two New Zealand newspapers, Kapi-Mana News and City Life Porirua News, and reported the man’s claims that several animals died during production due to “incompetence”.

The American Humane Association monitored the safe and humane treatment of animal actors during filming of The Hobbit in New Zealand. It has sent a statement that the Association investigated the deaths of the animals — which were not being used as animal actors at the time.

The Association says that its “stringent Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media were rigorously applied and followed throughout the production.”

Read the statement from the American Humane Association in full below the cut.

“In 2011, while filming was being conducted in New Zealand for The Hobbit, which was monitored by one of our Certified Safety Representatives to ensure the safe and humane treatment of the animal actors in the movie, we were made aware of claims by a former contractor of the production company alleging that animals living on a working farm that was being used to house some of the animal actors being used for the production had died.”

“None of the animals in question died during filming action or were being used as animal actors when the incidents occurred.”

“Nevertheless, being a humane organization concerned with the welfare of all animals, we did an investigation. While our jurisdiction over animals covers housing on-set, we recommended that safety improvements be made to the animals’ living areas, and the production company was responsive, upgrading fences, improving farm housing, and educating farmhands to encourage them to use the same high standard of care on the farm as on the set.”

“Not only were we able to increase safety for animals not involved in production on the farm that was being used, but our stringent Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media were rigorously applied and followed throughout the production.”

American Humane Association’s Film & TV Unit
11530 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA 91604


  1. Luthien

    Interesting. So evidently some of the animals did in fact die. I would think it would have been the responsibility of the owners of the farm as well as the AHA, since it is stated that they are supposed to cover housing on-set. I wonder if they recommended their safety improvements before or after the animals died? Negligence, if you ask me. If I were the owner of one of the animals that died, I would be up in arms for sure!

  2. Luthien

    Just misread the on-set housing thing. Sorry, AHA, I’ll try to read more carefully. I would say ‘next time’, but I hope there won’t be a next time. So who was in charge of the farm?

  3. Elfriend

    Elfrienda here: As an animal rights activist and vegan I was horrified to learn that horses might have been mistreated causing their deaths. Please say it ain’t so, Sir Peter. I approve with all my heart your upgrading of the animal’s housing. Please keep us informed on this close-to-my-heart issue.

  4. They weren’t animals used on the film, so ‘sir’ Peter has nothing to do
    with it. It is sad that the animals died, what is also sad is that a
    fired wrangler decided to try and use the film to injure the place where
    he used to work.

    Good on the farm to improve the situation for
    animals not used on the production even when the AHA had no authority or
    jurisdiction over those animals. I see no reason to serve the
    disgruntled employee’s purpose and ‘out’ the name of the farm.

    • AHA says none of the animals died during filming, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t on set or used in the film. also most deaths occurred overnight and could’ve been avoided (like keeping 10 chickens outdoors and find them killed by a wild dog in the morning – too bad nobody got that on camera, now the AHA doesn’t have to care). And it also sounds like they only ever investigated the housing situations after PJ was accused, and apparently found room for improvement. But now that we know housing had been improved for the farm animals that had nothing to do. with production of the film lets no longer talk about the actual issue here.

  5. and what about 2012?

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