The American Humane Assn., the group charged with overseeing the welfare of animals on sets, called injuries and deaths of animals involved in the movie "The Hobbit" "unacceptable" and said it needs broader authority to look out for the interests of animals.
“We are currently only empowered to monitor animal actors while they are working on production sets,” AHA President and CEO Robin Ganzert said in a statement. “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."
Ganzert's statements come in the wake of questions raised by animal wranglers about injuries and deaths to animals on a farm where they were housed during filming of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." The Warner Bros. release directed by Peter Jackson will open in the U.S. next month.
The AP reported that the film's producers were responsible for deaths of up to 27 animals, including three horses, that were held at a farm near Wellington, New Zealand. The farm was said to have broken-down fencing, bluffs and sinkholes that posed a hazard to the animals. Animal wranglers involved in the film said concerns they raised about the farm were ignored by producers. Questions surrounding the horse incidents were reported in the Los Angeles Times in September.