'The Hobbit' Star Rushes To Peter Jackson's Defence Over 'Animal Death' Claims

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Yesterday we reported that the animal rights organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) had claimed that poor animal welfare was responsible for the deaths of a number of animals on a farm linked to the production of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'.

Now several of those involved in the production have moved to deny the claims, stating that having investigated, as was promised in a statement yesterday, the allegations are false.

A statement from Jackson and the producers said of the claims: "No evidence of such a practice was found to have occurred at any time."

The owner of a horse named Shanghai, whom PETA accused of 'hobbling' (the act of tying legs together to prevent movement) said in a statement:  “I am 100% happy with the return of Shanghai  and his condition. In the term that he was leased he was picked up and returned to me two times. On both occasions there was not a mark on him and he was healthy and happy. He has shown no signs of ill-treatment. I would not hesitate in leasing him to the movie again.”

PETA, which is linked to a number of stars, including Drew Barrymore and Alec Baldwin, had suggested that poor stabling and housing facilities had caused the deaths of a number of horses, sheep and chickens.

The actor Jed Brophy, who plays the dwarf Nori in the films also rushed to the film makers' defense, releasing a statement which said:  "As an actor and animal trainer who has worked on large scale productions here in New Zealand, in particular The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and more recently, The Hobbit, I am flabbergasted to read this morning of the accusations levelled at the production by PETA."

He continued: "The entire time we were on set, and when we were training with the animal wranglers employed to look after and train the animals for filming, I observed no mistreatment - in fact the opposite is true."

He also accused PETA of being "personally vindictive" and looking to "gain publicity without seeking the truth".

Brophy is a horseman who has previously worked as an animal wrangler on film productions.

PETA yesterday told Entertainmentwise that they regarded Jackson's response as "wholly unsatisfactory". They have been approached for comment on the denial from the producers and the accusation that they are looking to "gain publicity".

Statements from the owner of a farm used to train the animals and a vet involved in the production also denied any mistreatment of the animals.

PHOTOS: the characters of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'

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