The much anticipated prequel of the The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, has come under great criticism having been accused of being responsible for the deaths of up to 27 animals. The Associated Press reports that wranglers working with the animals on the film have said that the animals are being kept on a farm "filled with bluffs, sinkholes and other 'death traps.'"

Matt Dravitzki, speaking on behalf of Peter Jackson and the movie, has acknowledged that the deaths of two horses could have been prevented, but that some animals died of natural causes. Furthermore, precautions were taken quickly after this occurred, to secure the safety of the rest of the 150 animals on site. The American Humane Association is overseeing animal welfare and says that no animals being harmed during filming itself, but acknowledges that the complaints have highlighted some serious issues that have gone unnoticed. Namely, a flawed system "which monitors film sets but not the facilities where the animals are housed and trained."

Apparently "One wrangler said that over time he buried three horses, as well as about six goats, six sheep and a dozen chickens. The wranglers say two more horses suffered severe injuries but survived." It seems the horses' conditions were worst with multiple injuries and deaths occurring for apparently preventable reasons. 

Despite the tragic loss of numerous animals, regardless of the cause, the attention that it has brought to the treatment of animals off set will hopefully ensure the safer and happier lives of working animals in the future.