New Zealand animal wranglers are claiming that the conditions while filming The Hobbit were responsible for the deaths of 27 animals, according to the AP. The animals were mostly horses, sheep, and goats, and the wranglers are saying that they were kept on a farm filled with bluffs, sinkholes and other "death traps" that were fatal in many cases.

The American Humane Association says no animals were killed during the actual filming, but did admit that the way it monitors the animals while off-set had some shortcomings. Hobbit director Peter Jackson acknowledged the deaths, but claimed that some of them were from natural causes.

Chris Langridge, one of the wranglers on the film, recounted having to bury three horses, as well as six goats, six sheep and a dozen chickens. One of the horses was a miniature named Rainbow, which broke its back after crash-landing on the set. And if that sentence doesn’t break your heart then you are completely without a soul.

As usual, PETA is already scheduling boycotts at the premiere of the movie in New Zealand, the U.S. and the U.K. We’ll have more information on this story as it becomes available.

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[via AP]