Peta condemns horse death on Lord of the Rings set, calls it animal exploitation

Peta condemns horse death on Lord of the Rings set, calls it animal exploitation

The organisation said producers should rely on "humane methods" like CGI and mechanical rigs instead of using real animals.
Updated 27 Mar, 2023

Animals often make appearances in films but not everyone understands that they’re living beings and not props. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) condemned the death of a horse on the sets of Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, calling out the producers for exploiting animals for their art.

On Sunday, Amazon Studios acknowledged the passing away of the horse in an official statement, attributing it to cardiac arrest. “We are deeply saddened to confirm that a production horse died on March 21,” said an Amazon spokesperson. “The incident took place in the morning whilst the horse was being exercised prior to rehearsals. The trainer was not in costume and filming had yet to commence. Both a veterinarian and a representative of the American Humane Association were present at the time. The independent necropsy has confirmed that the horse died of cardiac failure.”

Peta was quick to issue a statement of its own, denouncing the incident and the general use of animals in production. “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 told Variety. “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.”

The organisation’s strong reaction is not based on one incident — there has been a history of horses dying on set. It released a similar statement last year in July following the death of a horse on The Gilded Age’s sets. HBO said that the stallion “likely died of natural causes, according to a veterinarian’s preliminary findings”. Lord of the Rings prequel The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was also criticised after three horses died on set, along with some other animals.

Peta insists that horses should not be used in film or TV productions at all, adding that expert trainers should be on set at all times when they are.