How Many Animals Died During “Hobbit”?

Twenty-seven animals died during the shooting of “The Hobbit,” which just had its well-received world premiere in New Zealand. The furor over animal deaths during production of The Hobbit is prompting the CEO of one of the country’s top animal-rights groups to call for reforms. In an interview, Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States says Hollywood’s system of self-oversight and on-set monitoring by the American Humane Association has never functioned effectively because animals aren’t safeguarded when the cameras stop. “Even if the on-set observations were scrupulous and properly informed,” says Pacelle, “the program would still fall far short of fully guaranteeing animal welfare.” The Associated Press reported Nov. 19 that three horses, six goats, six sheep and a dozen chickens used in The Hobbit’s New Zealand shoot had died at a ranch where they were housed between takes.

Director Peter Jackson and studio Warner Bros. emphatically deny mistreatment.

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