PETA demands ‘The Hobbit’ director Peter Jackson uses all-CGI animals in future

Animal rights group demand change following reports of 27 animal deaths on set

An animal rights group has demanded director Peter Jackson uses only CGI animals in future filming, following the reported deaths of animals used in The Hobbit.

PETA was informed by a whistle-blower, believed to be a freelance animal wrangler used for the film, that up to 27 animals had perished at a farm used by production to house animals when they were not being used on set.

Director Peter Jackson has strongly denied the accusations that that horses, goats, chickens and one sheep died at a farm, saying: “Extraordinary measures were taken to make sure that animals were not used during action sequences or any other sequence that might create undue stress for the animals involved.”

He also added that “over 55 per cent of all shots using animals in The Hobbit are in fact computer generated; this includes horses, ponies, rabbits, hedgehogs, birds, deer, elk, mice, wild boars and wolves”.

However, PETA has called on the director to increase the percentage of shots using animals to 100 per cent. In a statement, obtained by The Wrap, they said: “Jackson should be giving a firm assurance that this will never happen again. He is the CGI master, and has the ability to make the animals and other interesting creatures in his movies 100 per cent CGI, and PETA calls on him again to do so.”

The promotional campaign for the trilogy is now picking up speed as the first film approaches. An Unexpected Journey gets its worldwide premiere in New Zealand on November 28 before opening in UK cinemas on December 14. You can watch the trailer by clicking at the bottom of the page.

Jackson’s second Hobbit film, The Desolation Of Smaug, will follow in December 2013, before the trilogy concludes with There And Back Again in July 2014. Alongside Ian McKellen as Gandalf, the films star Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins and boasts an ensemble cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Bret McKenzie and Orlando Bloom.