After denying charges that neglect led to 27 animal deaths on the New Zealand set of "The Hobbit" trilogy, director Peter Jackson took to Facebook Tuesday to bolster his defense.
In an attempt to disprove the claims, Jackson cited the positive testimonial of one horse owner, whose animal PETA has alleged was mistreated.
The following charge was outlined on PETA's website: "A horse named Shanghai was hobbled (his legs were tied together so that he couldn't move) and left on the ground for three hours because he was too energetic for his rider. Afterwards, the rope burns on his legs were covered with makeup and hair for filming."
Jackson answered back on Facebook:
No evidence of such a practice was found to have occurred at any time. Further, the production contacted the owner of the horse concerned who provided the following statement: “I am 100% happy with the return of Shanghai and his condition. In the term that he was leased he was picked up and returned to me two times. On both occasions there was not a mark on him and he was healthy and happy. He has shown no signs of ill-treatment. I would not hesitate in leasing him to the movie again.
The Facebook response from Jackson and producers also included testimonials from an on-set veterinarian, a local farmer and actor Jed Brophy, who plays Nori in the film.
Jackson again targeted the animal wranglers who had initiated the abuse accusations, saying they were the only handlers whose "standard of care" fell below the production's standards. He also questioned the timing of the accusations, with the series' first installment, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," set to premiere Nov. 28 in Wellington, New Zealand and to hit wide release in the United States Dec. 14.
In previous reports, the American Humane Association said no animals were harmed during filming but did add that the complaints point to possible deficiencies in oversight. One spokesman for the production did acknowledge that two on-set horse deaths were avoidable.
Many of the claims point to what the handlers said was uneven and dangerous terrain at the production location.
PETA says it plans to protest at the New Zealand, U.S., and U.K. premieres of "The Hobbit."
To read Jackson and Company's full Facebook response, click here.