People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are going after Prime Video’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” for the exploitation of animals. On March 21st, a horse died on set after suffering cardiac arrest. Amazon Studios released a statement confirming the tragedy.
The death occurred after the animal, along with roughly 40 others, walked from the stables to the holding area on set. According to an onset source, training for the upcoming stunts to be filmed that day had not started yet.
“We are deeply saddened to confirm that a production horse died on 21st March,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “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 reacted by issuing its own statement condemning the use of live animals in the entertainment industry as a whole. “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 said. “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.”
This is far from the first time PETA has gone after using real animals for entertainment. In July of 2022, they issued a similar statement directed at HBO’s “The Gilded Age” after a horse died on set. HBO said the animal “likely died of natural causes, according to a veterinarian’s preliminary findings.” The horse’s body was transferred to a facility for a full necropsy.
PETA argued horses should not be used in production at all, and contends equine behaviorists should be on set at all times when they are. They also spoke out about director Peter Jackson‘s additions to the “Lord of the Rings” franchise for the death of three horses. [Editor’s note: major productions of this level DO employ trainers and other professionals when animals are used on set.]
PETA’s own track record is disturbing to say the least (read at your own risk). Anytime they condemn a production or company for including animals seems more self-serving than actually being concerned for the treatment of said animals.