A horse’s death on the set of Amazon’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” has prompted the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to reassert its call for Hollywood to end the use of animals in productions.
“It seems that living underground with the orcs is par for the course for the producers of ‘The Rings of Power,’ because they have the option to use CGI, mechanical rigs and other humane methods that wouldn’t run vulnerable horses to death on set,” PETA senior vice president Lisa Lange wrote in a statement.
PETA also noted that this isn’t the only time in the past year that it has protested the abuse of horses on Hollywood productions. Last summer, members of the organization held a protest outside the set of HBO’s “The Gilded Age” after a horse died on set. Whistleblowers also accused the production of forcing horses to work in extreme heat without water breaks, leading to an incident when a stressed horse broke away from its wrangler and trampled an actor.
“PETA is calling on the show’s creators — and all other producers — to take on a new quest without using any real horses. If they can’t avoid exploiting animals for their art, they should find a new medium, because no one wants to see a spinoff for TV with torment as the theme,” Lange continued.
A spokesperson for Amazon confirmed the horse’s death, saying that it occurred on March 21 “whilst the horse was being exercised prior to rehearsals” alongside 20 other horses and before shooting had begun. A veterinarian and an American Humane Association representative were present at the time, and heart failure was determined to be the cause of death after an independent necropsy.
The spokesperson also said that the horse’s death was the first in the history of The Devil’s Horsemen, the European vendor that supplied the horses for “The Rings of Power,” and that the horse had shown no signs of health problems prior to the incident.
For years, PETA has argued that horses and other animals should not be used on film and television productions and that replacing them with CGI should become industry standard. The organization has pointed to Disney/20th Century’s 2020 film “Call of the Wild” as an example that Hollywood should follow, as the film used CGI in lieu of actual dogs for its adaptation of Jack London’s sled dog adventure novel.
In 2012, PETA condemned Warner Bros./New Line’s adaptation of “The Hobbit” after whistleblowers reported the deaths of more than two dozen animals used in its production at a farm where they were housed, including three horses and several goats, sheep and chickens.