"The Hobbit" director Peter Jackson has taken to Facebook to publicly refute the animal abuse charges made against the film earlier this week.
Several former animal wranglers who worked on the film claimed that negligence and improper care on the film's New Zealand set culminated in the deaths of 27 animals.
Jackson, actor Jed Brophy, Joy Gray and veterinarian Dr. Julia Bryce released responses on Jackson's Facebook page today.
"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," the statement reads. "Reports of their actions are documented in several written statements dating back to October 2011."
A spokesman for "The Hobbit" production company Wingnut films named Matt Dravitzki admitted to the accidental deaths of two horses while they were being kept at a farm away from the set, but claimed that producers and crew, working with the American Humane Association, moved quickly to improve conditions to prevent any further harm.
Actor Jed Brophy (Nori in the film) likewise dismisses the accusations of abuse, saying "I would not have allowed myself to be a part of any production that knowingly employed unsafe practice in the workplace in this way." Brohy continues, "I can say with absolute certainty the production went out of their way to treat animals with the upmost respect and care."
Gray, whose farm was used to train animals for the film, adds "In fact, the animals were wonderfully looked after, being well-fed, well-housed, and well-treated. As both farmers and dedicated horse people ourselves we would have stood for nothing less."
Brophy also chastises the accusers, by saying, "I feel that there is a certain amount of personal vindictiveness levelled at the production from individuals with their own agenda. As is often the case in these situations, organisations will leap at the chance to gain publicity for their cause without seeking the truth."
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" opens December 14.
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