“The Hobbit” accused of animal cruelty and death

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WELLINGTON, NZ  – Far over the misty mountains cold, to dungeons deep and caverns old, lies the quest  in a land to the east, an adventure for one, but death for the beasts.

Just days before Bilbo Baggins embarks on his cinematic journey comes word of cruelty and death on the New Zealand farm where handlers and wranglers kept their animals during the filming of ‘The Hobbit.’ People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals claims 27 critters died, including three horses, a dozen chickens, sheep and goats.

Wranglers say horses fell down bluffs, and unsupervised dogs mauled chickens. But those allegations apparently came from wranglers kicked off the set about a year ago.

‘If you know that this has happened and you don’t tell someone about it in a timely fashion then you’re a party to that offense, and so I think it really tarnishes the allegations,’ said Robyn Kippenberger, the National Chief Executive of the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Director Peter Jackson rejects the allegations that animals died from mistreatment, and said in a statement that an investigation is underway.

By the way, for the record, no hobbits, dwarves, or wizards were harmed in the making of this film.