Peter Jackson denies ‘The Hobbit’ animal cruelty claims

Director says he 'completely rejects' allegations 27 animals died because of mistreatment

The Hobbit director Peter Jackson has rejected claims up to 27 animals died after being mistreated on the New Zealand set.

Earlier this week, the Associated Press reported a claim by animal wranglers involved in the making of the trilogy that horses, goats, chickens and one sheep died at a farm used by production to house 150 animals used in the filming.

However, Jackson has now released a joint statement, via the Hollywood Reporter, with the film’s other producers in which they deny reports that animals died after being poorly housed and confirmed no animals died on set.

The statement read: “The producers completely reject the accusations that 27 animals died due to mistreatment during the making of the film. 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.

“Over fifty five 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.”

It continued: “We regret that some of these accusations by wranglers who were dismissed from the film over a year ago are only now being brought to our attention. We are currently investigating these new allegations and are attempting to speak with all parties involved.”

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 boast an ensemble cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Bret McKenzie and Orlando Bloom.