The main claim in the statement released from the two studios is that the source of these allegations is a set of freelance wranglers who were released from the production of the “Lord of the Rings” prequel trilogy over a year ago. This coincides with Jackson’s official statement posted to his Facebook yesterday, which said the wranglers were “dismissed from the film over a year ago.”
On Monday, the Associated Press reported that the wranglers in question accused the film’s crew of allowing animals to be kept on a farm filled with bluffs, sinkholes and other "death traps." Jackson’s statement came just a day later.
“To date, the only horse wranglers whose treatment of animals fell below the production’s standard of care seem to be the two wranglers who have chosen to level this new accusation on the eve of the premiere of the first Hobbit film and who were dismissed by the production over a year ago,” reads the statement on Peter Jackson’s Facebook page. “Reports of their actions are documented in several written statements dating back to October 2011.”
The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has disregarded the statements from both Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. The activist group continues to host an online petition on their website, encouraging people to take a stance against animal cruelty in film, though there is no proof of any such cruelty on the set of “The Hobbit.”
“When The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hits theaters this December, audiences will be presented with an adventure story set in a fantasy world,” claims the petition titled “Urge Peter Jackson to Ensure Animal Safety!” “For the animals involved in the filming, however, the abuse and neglect they experienced were far too real. In all, 5 horses, 12 chickens, 1 pony, and several goats and sheep were allegedly maimed or killed.”
"We want to send a clear message to Hollywood that they need to be very careful when using animals and take all the precautions that need to be taken,” AP reports PETA’s senior vice President, Kathy Guillermo Guillermo said.
Below is the complete statement from New Line Cinema and Warner Bros., published by Entertainment Weekly. New Line, Warner and EW are all part of the Time Warner company.
"Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema join Peter Jackson and the producers of The Hobbit in vigorously refuting and condemning accusations of animal abuse on the films. The production acted swiftly and responsibly in addressing any incidents involving animals in its care throughout the long filming process, and in fact, measures were taken to protect all farm animals, including those uninvolved with the films.
We question the timing of this misinformation — given The Hobbit‘s imminent release — and have no recourse other than to reveal that the primary source of these new allegations can be traced to freelance animal wranglers who were dismissed by the production over a year ago for cause. We are immensely proud of our association with Sir Peter Jackson, his dedicated film crew and the people of New Zealand."