Jackson: No animals abused
Tue, 20 Nov 2012 11:12a.m.
By Lloyd Burr
By Lloyd Burr with NZN
Sir Peter Jackson has rejected accusations 27 animals were mistreated and died during the making of The Hobbit trilogy.
Animal lobby group PETA alleges five horses, a pony, and several goats, sheep, and chickens were maimed or killed while being housed off set.
PETA says the farm where the animals were kept was filled with bluffs, sinkholes and other “death traps”. The group is planning a protest at next week’s worldwide premiere of The Hobbit in Wellington.
Sir Peter says the allegations are false and made by disgruntled on-set animal trainers, dismissed from the film’s production more than a year ago.
“The producers of The Hobbit take the welfare of all animals very seriously and have always pursued the highest standard of care for animals in their charge,” his statement says.
Matt Dravitzki, a spokesperson for the Oscar-winning director, says hundreds of thousands of dollars was spent at the beginning of last year to upgrade the stables and facilities after a horse and a pony died in a paddock they were in.
He says the two animals fell down an embankment which wasn’t fenced - the horse did so after being spooked.
Other deaths on the farm included one 8-year-old sheep which died of old age, three goat deaths, of which two died in an unscheduled cold snap and two chickens which died of natural causes, says Mr Dravitzki.
Sir Peter says the American Humane Association (AHA) was even part of the production and monitored the treatment of the animals.
“Any incidents that occurred that were brought to their attention as regards to this care were immediately investigated and appropriate action taken.”
“No animals died or were harmed on set during filming,” says Sir Peter.
Mr Dravitzki says animals were treated with the greatest respect during filming and the allegations are upsetting.
PETA’s list of mistreatment allegations includes:
Sir Peter says all of these allegations are being investigated.
The AHA has also responded to the allegations and admits they do highlight shortcomings in its oversight system.
The animal protection agency says it monitors film sets but not the facilities where the animals are housed and trained.
The New Zealand SPCA has slammed the animal trainers’ handling of the issue, saying they were never approached about any mistreatment.
“This whistleblower hasn't had the courage of their convictions to get in touch in the first place, or give us a name or give us something to go on,” says chief executive Robyn Kippenberger.
She says PETA can “march up and down until the cows come home” but it won’t help the animals that were allegedly abused.
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21/11/2012 7:31:19 a.m.
Bill, your work was onscreen, the Humane society's writ only covered what happened on screen. It should have also covered their housing and training. A bit late after a horse has fallen over a cliff to go "opps, maybe we should have fenced that off"
20/11/2012 6:44:28 p.m.
Bill Richardson wrote:
I worked with animals on the Hobbit movie. My work included working on-screen with Leroy, a 400kg boar and Rusty and Spider, two huge shorthorn steers. I was constantly amazed at the lengths the company went to to care for the animals. A representative from the American Humane Association was on hand every day, constantly taking noted and recording everything that was done with the animals. This went to such extremes that when an old ewe died of (obvious) old age, she had to be taken to the vet to have a death certificate made out. At the time I joined the movie, an animal wrangler was dismissed. He took it badly and threatened to (somehow unspecified), make trouble. The consensus of opinion among those who had worked with him was that there were mental and anger management issues he was incapable of dealing with. I have no personal knowledge of that particular situation. An emphasis on animal welfare at all times was a prime directive from the administration and we were constantly reminded of this fact. Obviously, PETA has some unspoken agenda here, time will tell what it is.
20/11/2012 1:52:46 p.m.
@ DAVID, You wish pain upon others for no reason or such pathetic ones. I feel sorry for you, that you live such a hateful sad lonely life. You cannot just not look after domestic animals, it does not and will not ever work like that. good luck with your life David.
20/11/2012 11:43:14 a.m.
I envision a society where vegans and animal rights activists are substituted for animals in the use of vivisection and medical experimentation. I hold amoeba and even viruses to be more valuable lifeforms than this deluded bunch of mentalists.
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