Excited about The Hobbit?
I’m one of many people eagerly waiting to watch the new release of The Hobbit. I can’t think of any movie I wanted to see more this year. But sadly, there’s a lot of ethical conflict involved in the choice to fully support the film.
Recently, an exclusive report was released to the Associated Press on the animal death toll involved in filming. In all, five horses, a pony, and several goats, sheep, and chickens were allegedly maimed or killed.
According to whistleblowers from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the following occurred:
- A horse named Shanghai was hobbled (his legs were tied together so that he couldn’t move) and left on the ground for three hours because he was too energetic for his rider. Afterward, in order to hide his rope burns for filming, his legs were covered with makeup and hair. Hobbling is an outright violation of the American Humane Association’s (AHA) guidelines.
- One horse was killed and another horse was injured after being placed with two highly strung geldings, despite concerns that the geldings would be too aggressive.
- Another horse was killed after falling off an embankment in a severely crowded paddock.
- When the horses were moved to the stables, another horse died after being fed large amounts of food that he wasn’t used to. The horse had shown signs of colic, an extremely painful illness.
- When the horses were moved back to the paddocks after this incident, another horse had the skin and muscles of her leg torn away by wire fencing.
- Several goats and sheep died from worm infestations and from falling into the sink holes that covered the farm.
- Numerous chickens were mauled and killed by unsupervised dogs or trampled by other animals when left unprotected.
How can something like this happen when the unit production manager was warned and the production was monitored by the AHA?! Furthermore, this movie was directed by Peter Jackson, a master at computer-generated imagery (CGI). In a movie that features CGI dragons, ogres, and hobbits, CGI animals would have fit in perfectly. Jackson could have made The Hobbit without using a single animal—and he should have.
You can urge Peter Jackson to refrain from any further animal cruelty here, and inform your J.R.R. Tolkien fan friends about the torture, and death, that occurs when real animals are used unnecessarily in fantasy settings. There is absolutely nothing cheap or weak about using CGI animals, especially at our level of production technology.