'The Hobbit' Animal Deaths Are Unacceptable Says American Humane Association

The AHA renews a call to extend monitoring both on and off the set of upcoming Hollywood productions after a number of 'The Hobbit' animals died on a working farm.

AHA calls action against animal deaths revolving around production of The Hobbit
AHA calls action against animal deaths revolving around production of The Hobbit
American Humane Association (AHA), which has protected more than a million animals in film during the 70+ years of its famed "No Animals Were Harmed®" program with a 99.98 percent safety rate on set, called the injuries and deaths of animals living at the working farm where some of the animal actors from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey were also being housed needless and unacceptable.

The organization renewed its call to the entertainment industry asking for additional jurisdiction and funding to keep animal actors safe not only while they are working on set, but off set as well to address illegitimate suppliers of animals and to ensure proper training, housing and retirement of these important and beloved co-stars of film and television. In January 2012, American Humane Association sent letters to industry leaders seeking ways to work together to improve the welfare of animals off the set as well as on.

AHA President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert made the following statement.

"We are currently only empowered to monitor animal actors while they are working on production sets. We do not have either the jurisdiction or funding to extend that oversight to activities or conditions off set or before animals come under our protection. There are too many incidents off the set and this must stop. It is vital that we work with the industry to bring the kind of protection we have for animals during filming to all phases of production.

We must bring the same high degree of safety and humane treatment that has been achieved on the set to animals throughout their life, including training, housing, and safe, dignified retirement. We owe it to these hard-working and beloved members of our community, just as we work to take care of their human counterparts. Anything less is unacceptable."

Because of American Humane Association's monitoring of the animal action which included having a licensed veterinarian on the scene, no animals were harmed on set during filming of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. However, upon learning of injuries and deaths of animals while being housed at a working farm 186 miles from the main set and 26 miles from the soundstage, American Humane Association went beyond its jurisdiction and authority to visit, examine and make safety recommendations and improvements to the farm. These recommendations were implemented a year ago, bringing a higher level of animal welfare to all animals living on the site into the future. Here's what Robin Ganzert also added about keeping these animals safe.

"We must bring the same high degree of safety and humane treatment that has been achieved on the set to animals throughout their life, including training, housing, and safe, dignified retirement. We owe it to these hard-working and beloved members of our community, just as we work to take care of their human counterparts. Anything less is unacceptable."

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released December 14th, 2012 and stars Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter. The film is directed by Peter Jackson.


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Comments (14)

  1. Censor Ship Much

    The person who is most at fault in the animal abuse cases is not Peter Jackson. It is the Animal Coordinator Steve Old.
    He was responsible for leasing that farm which was a hilly sheep farm unsuitable for horses. Several other suitable properties were put forward by the horse trainer that would have cost the same amount.
    He was also responsible for hiring staff that were not qualified to look after horses and vetoed every attempt of the horse trainer to hire suitable staff. He also prevented the horse trainer from making sensible training decisions. He insisted on letting his girlfriend train horses even though she was not qualified to even be riding them and caused many problems with their training when she did ride them. He also insisted on other unqualified people being allowed to ride horses.
    Steve Old also did not put any safe and appropriate training facilities in place. This was because he wanted to ensure he got the job by coming in under the budget outlined by another more qualified Animal Coordinator. He prevented the horse trainer from putting any facilities in place other than those that the horse trainer paid for out of his own pocket.
    Steve Old turned a blind eye to wilful abuse of animals - one case in which his own father was the abuser of a pig. This same person - Les Old - also sexually harassed a female staff member. When she told Steve that Les had groped her Steve fired her.
    Steve used production money and resources on his own private projects such as The Great NZ Trek. He pulled staff members away from caring for the animals on the film and sent them to do work on projects elsewhere during which time they were paid with film money.
    He bullied staff members into keeping quiet about any negative aspects of their work and told them they would be fired if they didn't fall into line.
    The head horse trainer, another horse trainer and other wranglers resigned from the film after two months because their complaints about animal welfare were ignored and were not passed on to people higher up in the chain of command. Emails were sent after they resigned (in Feb2011) detailing everything that was dangerous and needed to be rectified. I understand that these emails have only recently been passed on to Peter Jackson.

    2 years agoby @Censor-Ship-MuchFlag

  2. Michael Kolesik

    Okay, this sounds well and good, but I would like to hear the other side of the story. I won't make a decision till I hear what the other side has to say, and I see some evidence of these claims.

    2 years agoby @Michael-KolesikFlag

  3. Matthew Watkin

    Kind of makes their statements a bit worthless, if it only whilst they are on set.

    2 years agoby @Matthew-WatkinFlag

  4. the MovieGhost

    @bawnian-dexeus Ha! I thought I smelled barbeque!

    2 years agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  5. Nicholaus XX

    @the-movieghost -- But, if we're considered to be animals, where does that put us? I'm sure they can get a "3-star" treatment, per se, and still survive.

    How were those animals injured, and how did they die? I wonder..

    2 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag

  6. Andrew Thompson

    AHA, Next thing you know PETA will jump on the bandwagon too....

    2 years agoby @andrew-thompsonFlag

  7. skywise

    Animals die just like everything else. You cant keep themall safe. Sheesh. Do the damn job your given, keep them safe on set and then movie on.

    2 years agoby @skywiseFlag

  8. Bawnian©-Dexeus

    Meh, if a Horse or any other animal kills over, you wouldn't have trouble feeding the cast

    2 years agoby @bawnian-dexeusFlag

  9. Titanictom

    Animal Protection has Been Around For only about 45 years not 70 plus a Movie Back in the late 1970's[ The Lion In Winter} Was Fined Because of cruelty to Horses...The Dog From The Little Rascels Was Poised By His Owner and The Original ClydeThe Orangatang was beaten to Death By His Owner...Some Protection Eh???!!!!

    2 years agoby @titanictomFlag

  10. the MovieGhost

    @ghostman Animals are just that, animals. These weren't anyone's pets. I do agree that they need a certain level of treatment and or respect, but they don't deserve this f*cking five-star treatment that nuts like them ALWAYS insist they get.

    2 years agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  11. Ghostman

    @the-movieghost Dude, the crew of the film did not cater to the animals on set very well in which they had died during filming. The A.H.A. makes sure that no animals were harmed, well they did get harmed. Consequences are to happen for that.

    2 years agoby @ghostmanFlag

  12. the MovieGhost

    Really? These nutjobs need to find something else to do.

    2 years agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  13. K.Guy

    The curse has RETURNED!!!

    2 years agoby @kguyFlag