Animal Emotions

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Animal Deaths in 'The Hobbit' Were Avoidable

Five horses, a pony, several goats, sheep, and chickens were maimed or killed.

Animal abuse in the name of entertainment is not uncommon, including in the making of movies. Indeed, there is solid evidence that many animals are trained, or really "broken", to get them to do what's needed to perform in circuses, zoos, or in film. A recent example concerns Thia, the female elephant star in "Water For Elephants", who became an "emotional wreck" because of the abuse to which she was subjected in the making of this movie. Likewise, wolves were abused and killed in the making of the misleading and sensationalist movie "The Grey". Two wolves were trapped, killed, made into wolf stew, and eaten to get the cast in the mood for the wild. 

Now, abuse in the name of entertainment has once again surfaced. It turns out that five horses, a pony, several goats, sheep, and chickens were allegedly maimed or killed in the making of "The Hobbit". And, a spokesman for "The Hobbit" admitted, "the deaths of two horses were avoidable ..." Here are some of the gory details:

A horse named Shanghai was hobbled (his legs were tied together so that he couldn't move) and left on the ground for three hours because he was too energetic for his rider. Afterward, in order to hide his rope burns for filming, his legs were covered with makeup and hair. Hobbling is an outright violation of the American Humane Association's (AHA) guidelines.

One horse was killed and another horse was injured after being placed with two highly strung geldings, despite concerns that the geldings would be too aggressive.

Another horse was killed after falling off an embankment in a severely crowded paddock.

When the horses were moved to the stables, another horse died after being fed large amounts of food that he wasn't used to. The horse had shown signs of colic, an extremely painful illness.

When the horses were moved back to the paddocks after this incident, another horse had the skin and muscles of her leg torn away by wire fencing.

Several goats and sheep died from worm infestations and from falling into the sink holes that covered the farm.

Numerous chickens were mauled and killed by unsupervised dogs or trampled by other animals when left unprotected.

This abuse is sickening and could have easily been avoided if the people making the film really cared about the well-being of the animals with whom they were working and who depended on their goodwill. Please register complaints here

The teaser image can be seen here

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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