(LOS ANGELES) — Although the American Humane Association, which is policing animal welfare on The Hobbit, said no animals were killed during filming, wranglers associated with the film claim that 27 animals died due to farming conditions, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Director Peter Jackson said on Monday that he “completely rejects the accusations” that the animals died of mistreatment, reports Deadline.com, instead blaming the deaths on natural causes.
In a statement released Monday, Jackson along with other producers of The Hobbit trilogy said that they “have always pursued the highest standard of care for animals in their charge. Any incidents that occurred that were brought to their attention as regards to this care were immediately investigated and appropriate action taken. This includes hundreds of thousands of dollars that were spent on upgrading housing and stable facilities in early 2011.”
“No animals died or were harmed on set during filming,” the statement 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 to establish the truth.”
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first film in the $500 million trilogy, is set to premiere in the U.S. on Dec. 14.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jackie Wattles, CNN
Lisa Respers France, CNN