Peter Jackson in New Zealand. Photo: Maarten Holl
The Hobbit director Sir Peter Jackson has lashed out at an animal rights group over allegations animals were mistreated while making the big-budget movie trilogy.
Jackson, at a press conference on Wednesday ahead of the first film's world premiere, reacted angrily to a question if there was any truth in claims from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) that a number of animals suffered during filming.
He said there was "absolutely none. No abuse, no mistreatment, absolutely none".
"You have got a very radical, political organisation that has jumped on this and personally it's an insult to anyone who worked on the film.
"We care about what we do, we care about all the animals," he said.
He said PETA wanted to see its name in every story about The Hobbit.
"It's pretty pathetic," he said.
PETA is planning a protest at the red carpet event for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with one of its members wearing a grim reaper costume and holding a sign saying: "The Hobbit: Unexpected Cruelty".
It alleged that more than two dozen animals, including horses, a pony, goats, sheep and chickens were maimed or killed during production.
The American Humane Association, which monitors animal welfare during movie making, says no animals were harmed during the filming but noted it monitored sets only and not the facilities where they were trained.
The Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals said no complaints were received at the time.
The film's producers have rejected the accusations, saying they were made by wranglers dismissed during production, and that hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent improving facilities for the animals.
The vet who oversaw the treatment of the animals, the farmer whose land the animals were housed on and an actor have also dismissed PETA's claims.