Concern over Hobbit animal deaths

Animal handlers involved in the making of The Hobbit film trilogy have said the production company is responsible for the deaths of up to 27 animals, largely because they were kept on a farm filled with bluffs, sinkholes and other "death traps".

The American Humane Association, which is overseeing animal welfare on the films, said no animals were harmed during the actual filming. But it also said the handlers' complaints highlight shortcomings in its oversight system, which monitors film sets but not the facilities where the animals are housed and trained.

A spokesman for trilogy director Peter Jackson said that the deaths of two horses were avoidable, but added that the production company moved quickly to improve conditions after they died. The spokesman said other deaths were from natural causes.