Ready for some not-so-precious accusations? According to multiple staff members who worked on The Hobbit set, the filmmakers did not take animal safety as seriously as necessary, possibly resulting in the deaths of a number of animals

Several animal wranglers involved in the making of the film have stated that producers are responsible for up to 27 animal deaths. According to them, the set was filled with sink holes, bluffs and obstacles that could be considered "death traps" for animals. The area was also too hilly and small for the animals, said wrangler Chris Langridge. Since horses run up to 30 mph and need to be kept on flat land, having these types of topographical issues was detrimental to their safety.

Numerous animals, they say, were injured or killed because of these obstacles and the animal wrangles were forced to bury them. One even said he had to bury "three horses, as well as about six goats, six sheep and a dozen chickens" over the course of production.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says that it will boycott the film during its premieres in New Zealand, the United States and the U.K.

However, director Peter Jackson released this statement:

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. Any incidents that occurred that were brought to their attention as regards to this care were immediately investigated and appropriate action taken. This includes hundreds of thousands of dollars that were spent on upgrading housing and stable facilities in early 2011.

The producers completely reject the accusations that twenty seven animals died due to mistreatment during the making of the films. Extraordinary measures were taken to make sure that animals were not used during action sequences or any other sequence that might create undue stress for the animals involved. Over fifty five per cent of all shots using animals in The Hobbit are in fact computer generated; this includes horses, ponies, rabbits, hedgehogs, birds, deer, elk, mice, wild boars, and wolves.

The American Humane Association (AHA) was on hand to monitor all use of animals by the production. No animals died or were harmed on set during filming.

We regret that some of these accusations by wranglers who were dismissed from the film over a year ago are only now being brought to our attention. We are currently investigating these new allegations and are attempting to speak with all parties involved to establish the truth.

I desperately hope these accusations are proven (not just called) false, somehow. After all the strides the film world has made in the treatment of animals, it would be horrible to find out that such an incredibly popular, high-budget film contributed to the deaths of so many animals. Regardless of how you may feel about eating meat or the fur industry, I can't imagine a rational argument that would give any form of animal cruelty an "O-K."

We'll keep you updated on this story as it progresses!

If this is proven to be true, how do you think the production should be held responsible?

[via Huffington Post]

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