Credit: MGM

This is just sad.

Around 150 animals were housed at a farm near Wellington, New Zealand, while The Hobbit films were shot. Animal wranglers are now blaming the production company for the deaths of up to 27 of those animals.

According to the Associated Press (via the New York Post), the American Humane Association said no animals were harmed during actual filming, but animal wranglers blamed the deaths on the farm facility itself — arguing that it was filled with sinkholes, broken-down fencing and other "death traps." One wrangler told the AP he buried three horses, about six goats, six sheep and a dozen chickens. They said they repeatedly raised their concerns with the production company but nothing was done, so they are now speaking publicly to prevent similar deaths in the future.

Matt Dravitzky, a spokesman for director Peter Jackson, acknowledged that the deaths of two horses were avoidable but said the company worked to improve conditions after they died. He said some of the other animals' deaths were from natural causes.

Jackson's spokesman told E! News the production company no longer leases the farm and has no animals left on the property. But PETA is reportedly planning to stage protests at various Hobbit premieres around the world. The first film hits U.S. theaters on December 14.

The AP story has a lot more details; read the rest here

Sources: New York PostE! News

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