The Hobbit director Peter Jackson has denied claims that up to 27 animals died after being mistreated on the film set.
Jackson "completely" rejected the claims made by animal wranglers involved in the making of the trilogy. AP had reported that 150 animals were kept at a farm near Wellington and that due to unsafe conditions there were deaths of horses, goats, chickens and sheep.
The Hollywood Reporter says a representative for the director said that the animals had died but had done so from natural causes.
Four of the wranglers are quoted by AP saying that there were hazards such as bluffs and sinkholes and that the uneven terrain has led to the deaths of animals. They said they had discussed the issues with the film-makers but that the animals continued to be housed at the farm.
The representative for Jackson said after the death of two horses the film-makers got the American Humane Assocation to launch an inquiry and that money was spend upgrading the housing and stable facilities.
The statement read "The producers of The Hobbit take the welfare of all animals very seriously and 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."