The Hobbit Whistleblowers Report Dozens of Animals Died on Set

For Immediate Release:
13 December 2012

Kathy Guillermo 757-943-7443; [email protected]
Wendy Wegner 323-210-2206; [email protected]

PETA US and Its Affiliates Protest Film Around the World

Los Angeles – PETA US has alerted Peter Jackson, director of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which opens in India on 14 December, to a slew of animal injuries and deaths on the production’s New Zealand set. In its letter, PETA US details allegations from four whistleblowers, who worked on the production as wranglers, that all these incidents – including the deaths of three horses and numerous sheep, goats and chickens – could have been prevented if Jackson’s lead trainer and the head of production had fulfilled their duties and heeded the warnings of several wranglers. Jackson himself has admitted that horses, sheep, goats and chickens died during the production.

“Two horses were run off embankments and broke their necks on the set of The Hobbit, at least one horse was allegedly left lying on the ground with his legs tied together for more than three hours, numerous goats and sheep used for the production died from worm infestations and from falling into sinkholes and a dozen unprotected chickens were killed by dogs”, says PETA India Chief Executive Officer Poorva Joshipura. “Jackson’s films have been at the forefront of the special-effects revolution, but this production’s decision to use numerous live animals and allow them to suffer and die needlessly takes the entertainment industry a giant and disgraceful step backwards.”

Among the whistleblower allegations outlined in PETA US’ letter are the following:
• Of the two horses who were run off embankments by other horses in their paddocks, one was euthanised and the other was found dead with her face submerged in a river.
• One wrangler was allegedly fired for expressing his concerns about the danger that the animals were in.
• A horse named Shanghai was hobbled (his legs were tied together so that he could not move) on set during a location shoot and left lying on the ground for more than three hours, reportedly because he was too active for his rider to handle. The rope burns on all of Shanghai’s legs that resulted from the hobbling were covered up with make-up and fake feathers (long hair on the legs of some horses) for filming. Hobbling is a violation of the guidelines of the American Humane Association (AHA) and an inappropriate way to deal with an energetic horse.
• A horse named Zeppelin died, likely of colic, after his diet was suddenly and drastically changed. The head animal wrangler allegedly declined a necropsy, and Zeppelin was quickly buried on site.
• The production’s AHA representative, whose expertise is reportedly in companion-animal medicine rather than equine care, was allegedly inappropriately friendly with the head animal wrangler and dismissive of the concerns of other wranglers. He was not present for some of the animal sequences.

PETA US’ letter to Jackson is available upon request. For more information, please visit