Anticorruptionnz's Blog

18/01/2012

The hobbit animal welfare monitoring

Filed under: Uncategorized — anticorruptionnz @ 10:06 am

The hobbit is  currently being filmed in New Zealand  and we have to wonder who is doing the animal welfare monitoring.

When the lord of the rings  was completed it bore  the end title  to the effect that no animal was hurt or injured in the making of the movie .. the monitoring had been done by  AWINZ  the  fictional organization  which as in reality a pseudonym for Neil Wells  now of Animal law matters

AHA (American humane society) wrote a scathing report   and the matter was reported on  a web site which Mr Wells took a lot of effort to  get taken  down

AWINZ  and animal  monitoring in the movies

the reference given on this web site was http://www.ahafilm.info/movies/moviereviews.phtml?fid=7471

if you Google it you will get this response  but  the page wont open

Movie Review – Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, the

www.ahafilm.info/movies/moviereviews.phtml?fid=7471

AHA had requested information and informed production of AHA’s process for AHA’s Film and Television Unit during the first year of principle photography. ble rating

fortunately we have been able to recovered this information for  you   and this is copied below.

Questionable

While no animals were intentionally harmed in the making of the film, some questionable practices were used.

 lord of the rings  read the scathing  reports from the AHA

http://www.ahafilm.info/movies/moviereviews.phtml?fid=7471  

Movie Review – Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, the

www.ahafilm.info/movies/moviereviews.phtml?fid=7471

AHA had requested information and informed production of AHA’s process for AHA’s Film and Television Unit during the first year of principle photography.

Extracts Highlighted below

Per existing documentation, the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, filmed in New Zealand, began purchasing animals for the films in early1999. Production made contact with a newly formed local New Zealand humane organization, AWINZ, to supervise animal action from August 30, 2000

http://www.ahafilm.info/movies/moviereviews.phtml?fid=7368 

see extracts

also read the following sites  ..  extracts shown below the  links

http://rubensturn.vox.com/library/post/nna-wilding-recieves-thanks-for-humanitarian-work-on-lord-of-the-rings-trilogyseeks-security-suppor.html

it states
There was no recorded animal welfare agency on set, according to many eye witness reports, for most of the production, despite claims by one organization who according to the AHA’s website, listed a false credit at the end of the film.

Ms. Wilding first contacted Mr. Ordesky in Los Angeles, California after she was contacted directly with numerous complaints from crew, and some cast members when in NZ. Ms. Wilding researched, took statements and investigated, and experienced first hand the lack of cooperation, faced by cast and crew as they tried to get matters resolved through the production, NZ Safety and Occupational groups, animal welfare groups, including RSPCA and many other agencies and outlets in New Zealand at the time.

Ms. Wilding experiencing also, and witnessing a lack of cooperation, and with injuries and animal issues still occurring on the production, decided finally to take the matter, anonymously at first, to the American Humane Association (AHA) Film and Television Unit in Hollywood. Wilding continued stealthily in the same manner as she had started, over a period of many months, working in New Zealand, further investigating and reporting in detail to the American Humane Association at their request. The AHA was unable to award the film trilogy its official end credit “stating no animals were harmed or injured” on all three films, as it was simply, not true. The AHA Film & Television Unit is designated by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) as the only animal welfare organization with on-set jurisdiction and is considered to be the only legitimate ruling body worldwide, in regards to animal safety on films.

read more at  http://www.annawilding.com/rotk.htm

Dear ANNA,
It was interesting to note that the AHA was approached by someone representing
themselves as head of the Animal Welfare institute of New Zealand, (*NB, a newly formed organization)
. They wanted to be endorsed by the AHA …we rejected this……. It is a pity a production this size did not at least call the AHA to discuss oversight of filming. We would have arranged oversight if the company was willing to cooperate. This did not happen”

http://www.annawilding.com/films.html
TWO TOWERS has also been given a Questionable rating by the AHA.This rating also includes Fellowship of the Ring. Anna said she responded as any ethical experienced industry person would have or should have.
http://newsblaze.com/story/2007030915130200001.sp/topstory.html

Ms. Wilding researched, took statements and investigated, and experienced first hand the lack of cooperation, faced by cast and crew as they tried to get matters resolved through the production, safety and occupational groups, animal welfare groups and other agencies and outlets. Ms. Wilding then took the matter to the American Humane Association where for many months she continued to work on resolving matters. Some crew were injured during the making of the films, says Wilding, in which many horses were injured and several horses died.

An eye opening book on Lord of the Rings movies a possibilty

http://www.transworldnews.com/NewsStory.aspx?storyid=14815&ret=news.aspx&cat=Entertainment

 Read other publications

http://www.vets.org.nz/Publications/Vets@Work/2001/V@WMar2001.pdf

Copy of content from American Humane society web site http://www.ahafilm.info/movies/moviereviews.phtml?fid=7471

AHA Rating of the Film
We appreciate that production has been cooperative in answering many of AHA’s questions and providing documentation regarding the animal action in the film. However,
AHA still has a few concerns regarding the care given the animals during production based on information we have received. The information provided indicates that some animal activity and training methods although meeting local animal welfare standards, did not meet AHA’s high standards regarding the use of animals in entertainment. We are therefore rating the film Questionable.

Investigation into Controversial Allegations
AHA endeavors to meet the public’s demand for AHA to know and/or to investigate the use of animals in all filmed media. Since AHA is internationally known for its oversight of animals in filmed media, both the public and other animal welfare organizations contacted AHA near the end of filming when questions regarding the treatment of the animal actors remained unanswered.

AHA compiled a list of concerns and requested and received an investigative report from theAnimal Welfare Institute of New Zealand (AWINZ) and the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF).Although the investigative report was helpful, in that it concluded there was no intentional animal cruelty, it contained information that was inconsistent with standards set forth in AHA’s Guidelines.

Questions and Concerns
There are a few areas in which questions remain about the level of care the animals received. In addition, some training techniques reportedly used during production are opposed by AHA.

  • Horse sent to slaughter – A horse named Mooney was sent to slaughter after it was determined that the horse had a non-specified problem with its front legs that made it unfit to be trained for the film. According to Production the horse had been lame, and they were waiting for its condition to improve before working it. Although the horse was purchased for the film, it was never used in it since its condition did not improve. AHA does not condone Production sending an animal to the slaughterhouse because it is not fit for work required by film production. AHA would recommend that the horse be returned to its owner, be adopted out as a pet or, if the condition proved to be critical, that the horse be humanely euthanized. Production was not able to provide veterinary records or other documentation as to the horse’s condition or specific reasons why the horse was determined to be unfit.
  • Stampede at Mt. Potts – While shooting at the Mt. Potts location a stampede occurred during the onset of a snowstorm. Neither Production nor AWINZ documented the incident at the time it occurred, nor formally evaluated whether adequate safety precautions were in place. Allegedly, one of the horses kicked through a fence, approximately 15-35 horses got loose and ran onto the road through an opened gate and across several cattle guards. It is unclear as to what caused the horses to spook and run an unusually long distance. Although the horses were retrieved by the following day, many of the horses sustained minor injuries and 4-5 horses sustained serious injuries. Reports indicate that one horse that sustained a serious injury was later euthanized. Since this incident was unanticipated and it was not formally documented and evaluated, it is unclear as to whether proper safety precautions and adequate fencing were in place that would have prevented the incident.
  • Electric Shock Collars for Liberty Training– Reports indicate that electric shock collars were used for at liberty training of at least two horses. Although used by some liberty trainers and it is not against the law or local NZ animal welfare regulations, AHA opposes the use of electric shock collars for training. During filming production has indicated that the use of the device was infrequent and monitored by production veterinarians. When production learned of AHA’s objection to the device, they prohibited further use.AHA’s position is supported by the fact that there are well-known and highly skilled liberty trainers that do not use electric shock for training. Research indicates that horses are more susceptible to electric shock than other animals, and that a sensation that is barely noticeable by a human, is easily noticeable by a horse. As published in AHA’s Humane Dog Training Guidelines, the use of electric shock collars for training is not recommended. AHA joins with other credible animal welfare groups in advocating an end to the use of this device. Production was unable to provide documentation that supports appropriate supervision in the use of such a powerful device, pursuant to AHA standards.


Although the above issues indicate that the high standards set forth by AHA’s Guidelines were not always adhered to, the AWINZ report indicates there was no intentional cruelty. AHA recognizes that Production made an effort to have veterinarians available during the course of production, and eventually contracted with AWINZ to assist with animal welfare issues.

Unfortunate Circumstances and Natural Deaths
When high profile films use large numbers of animals, it is not unusual for questions and rumors to surface. AHA has investigated allegations and incidents that have been brought to our attention. Many of the issues raised regarding mistreatment could not be substantiated and are considered closed at this time. Some of the issues raised can be explained by unfortunate circumstances and natural deaths.

  • Horse with Melanomas – Demero, the light grey Andalusian horse that plays Shadowfax, was purchased with a known diagnosis of melanoma. This is not uncommon in pale gray and white horses. The horse’s condition worsened toward the end of the shooting schedule. While the Production veterinarian was determining the appropriate treatment, a veterinarian from the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) examined the horse. MAF issued an “Instruction to Mitigate Suffering” and stated a recommended course of treatment. The Production veterinarian followed the recommendation. In May 2002, AHA arranged for an independent veterinarian to examine Demero. At that time, Production indicated that they had no intention of working Demero in the future due to the melanomas. The findings by the independent veterinarian were “generally consistent with the history and previous management of the case…The lack of pain or signs of irritation and general condition of Demero indicate that there is no welfare issue at present. Regular monitoring that Production has instituted is appropriate and should continue.”Upon completion of filming, the production company arranged for Demero to be retired where he will continue to receive the prescribed, on-going care. The horse will not be used in any additional filming for the completion of subsequent sequels. Demero has been confirmed to be alive and well cared for as of the date of this review.
  • Four Horses Died due to Illnesses– A large number of horses were being used over several years. There were a number of unfortunate deaths due to illnesses or other medical conditions. Although the horses were examined before purchase and production employed a veterinarian to look after the horses, there was very little known about the history of each horse. Following is an explanation of the circumstances.
    • The horse Jimmy Dash was euthanized due to equine torsion. The Production veterinarian attended to the horse, was unsuccessful at treating it, and then made the decision to euthanize him.
    • The horse Big Dan was euthanized due to a cracked pelvis. The condition was determined upon a veterinary examination and a decision was made to euthanize him.
    • The horse Everon died of an internal hemorrhage due to a massive rupture of the mesenteric artery leading to the small intestine. After a session of desensitization work (getting familiar with other horses, riders, swords and costumes), when the horses were walking out, Everon collapsed and died. The Production veterinarian was present during the training session and ran to the horse, but it was already dead. The post mortem also revealed evidence of extensive worm damage.
    • The horse named Boy died when the major artery leading away from the heart ruptured due to a weakness in the wall. Production supplied a report from the veterinarian who performed a necropsy. An AWINZ representative also supplied a report that indicated the horse was not under any obvious stress. The horse was engaged in moderate training activity and was walking back to the trainer when the horse collapsed.
  • Rabbit Holes on South Island – Most of the set locations in the South Island had rabbit holes. Production required staff to walk the area and employed greenspeople to fill in the holes. After each ride across the area, riders and staff walked back, calling to the greenspeople to fill in any holes that had caved in. Upon discussion with the Production veterinarian, there were no injuries caused by the rabbit holes. Since Production filmed for several days at this location, some horses were pulled because they became tired, ill or were not prepared for the level of work.


AHA and International Productions
When production travels outside the U.S., the standard of care for animal actors varies greatly due to local animal welfare regulations, cultural differences and a lack of certified animal safety representatives specifically trained for film oversight. AHA’s extensive experience in protecting animal actors since 1940 is unique in the animal welfare community.

Animal welfare organizations and workers typically suffer from lack of funding and overwhelming tasks to combat animal cruelty and pet overpopulation issues. Most often their resources are stretched to provide services that are responsive to critical community animal welfare needs. AHA’s mission in the Film and Television Unit is unique. It focuses on the safety of the animal actor, preventative procedures and provides a standard of care that is much higher than that required by law.

As the film industry becomes more global, many international communities are embracing the opportunity to protect animal actors, but many local animal welfare organizations are not resourced to meet the demands of burgeoning film production. AHA seeks to work with other international organizations and animal welfare professionals to enhance their understanding of the risks involved when animals are used in film production and to help train and encourage professional documentation and a high standard of animal care.

AHA has often traveled to foreign locations to oversee the use of animals in films for productions that seek the high standard of care established by AHA. AHA has an International Film Monitoring Program to benefit productions in other countries by certifying local animal welfare organizations and individuals to monitor animal action per AHA’s Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media.

In 2002, American Humane expanded its international monitoring capabilities by appointing an International Animal Welfare Manager in New Zealand and Australia. Based in Taupo, New Zealand, AHA is now able to coordinate film projects, and trains and assigns animal welfare monitors to supervise the animal action for U.S. films produced in the Asia/Pacific region. AHA is working with the RNZSPCA, the Film Commission, and other organizations involved with animals and the film industry to develop an international awareness for animal welfare in films.

The public perceives a film as being a U.S. entity when it stars SAG actors, is being produced/financed by a U.S. company and slated for release to U.S. audiences. In this case, the production was the vision of a New Zealand director, presented as a New Zealand project and consequently filmed in New Zealand. The high profile of the film, its wide release in the U.S. market and the nature of the controversy surrounding the treatment of animal actors, impelled AHA to contact production.

extracts from  http://www.ahafilm.info/movies/moviereviews.phtml?fid=7368

Lord Of The Rings is one of the most anticipated and costly films ever produced. AHA had requested information and informed production of AHA’s process for protecting animals in filmed media. However, because the production was filmed outside the US, it fell outside of AHA’s jurisdiction and although production has since cooperated in responding to AHA requests for information, production did not work with AHA’s Film and Television Unit during production. For this reason, AHA cannot attest that the Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media were followed. The first cinematic installment of J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary trilogy, Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, carries an end credit that AHA has not authorized which states, “No animal was abused, ill treated or neglected in the making of the movie. Animal action was monitored by the Animal Welfare Institute of New Zealand (AWINZ).”

AHA wants to clarify that AHA did not issue this statement, AWINZ is not an AHA-approved Humane Partner and AHA does not have information that can support that the disclaimer is correct or incorrect. To earn an AHA end credit, Production must demonstrate a level of humane treatment that is far stricter than all US federal, state and local animal welfare laws and regulations. Based on the review of various documents and reports, AHA does not believe any intentional cruelty occurred, however, we have a few questions about the level of care and some training techniques used during production.

Per existing documentation, the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, filmed in New Zealand, began purchasing animals for the films in early1999. Production made contact with a newly formed local New Zealand humane organization, AWINZ, to supervise animal action from August 30, 2000. AHA understands that AWINZ supervised some of the animal action, however, AHA does not have sufficient documentation to meet the required standards for AHA to endorse the validity of the end credit. Although AHA guidelines are readily available, it takes significant training and expertise to implement them.

When large numbers of animals are used by a production, it is not unusual for questions and rumors to surface. AHA requested and received an investigative report from AWINZ and the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF). Although the report was helpful, AHA still lacked sufficient information to support the use of an end credit on the film. On set supervision appears to have been conducted primarily by wranglers and veterinarians contracted by production and sufficient documentation is lacking to attest to the humane or inhumane treatment of animals throughout the entire production. The investigation into the allegations did not satisfy the requirements necessary for an AHA assurance that “no animal was harmed”. For this reason, AHA cannot support the end credit on the film.

Horse Killers

There were over forty Clydesdales,
held by a piece of string.
No one saw the blizzard comin’,
that happened that early spring.
Reports of how it started
are few and far between,
but things got pretty crazy, mate,
it must have been an awful scene!

A couple may have started fighting,
and that was all she wrote;
on that station down near Geraldine,
that day somebody got my goat.

They thundered ‘round in a mighty swarm
of flesh and electric fence,
before smashing down a ten inch post,
the barbed wire was no defense;

then over several cattle stops,
the stampede had begun;
down the road towards Geraldine,
did those mighty horses run!
Horse killers, and big box thrillers,
don’t they just go hand in hand!
Spin doctors, and their helicopters,
don’t they make it all look so grand!

But, dead ponies and media cronies,
did nobody see the blood?
I shouted out loudly, but I can stand proudly,
there’s a story buried deep in the mud.

Those horses kept on running,
till they had had enough.
Some went lame, and what a cryin’ shame,
two went off the bluff.

The company started moving,
in all directions, or so I’m told.
Some headed off towards Geraldine,
others towards damage control.
“Don’t ever let this story out,”
that’s what they told the worried crew.
“The potential repercussions…
if the world finds out, we’re screwed!”

But those renegade cabayos,
got collected in due time;
and of the twenty odd that escaped that terrible day,
thank God, none of them was mine.

My boys had gone to higher ground
to escape from all the fuss;
others weren’t so lucky,
you could hear those cowboys cuss.

The horse killers showed no sympathy,
they preferred to pass the buck;
besides they had a pile of cash,
just in case things came unstuck.
Word is they shelled out twenty grand,
to some girl who’d lost her pet.
All in all it was a very busy day,
for the accountant and the vet.

For me, it was a lifetime,
of waiting just to see
Just how the Mt. Potts studio
would handle this tragedy.
There were no words of sorrow,
no expressions of regret;
just a tricky situation,
that the world would soon forget.

We wonder if the above verse relates to  the filming of the Lord of the Rings, it fits a scenario that has been described to us   .. we don’t know  what it relates to  but its a good verse.. food for thought.

It has to be noted that  the animal welfare institute of New Zealand which  is Operated by Neil Wells is not   incorporated and is not a body corporate  it is  now being passed off as  an unincorporated  trust  although the trust deed is   of dubious origins  and the persons on the trust were not involved in the movie industry .

AWINZ or rather Mr wells and his wife Christine  went on to monitor other movies    namely

   BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA

Representatives of the Animal Welfare Institute of New Zealand were present on the film sets and locations to monitor animal action during the making of this production. No animal was abused, ill-treated or neglected during the making of this production.

Notice that it does not say  ” no animals were harmed”  that is because it is a registered trade mark of the American humane society they do not list the  movie as one approved by them. http://www.americanhumane.org/site/PageServer?pagename=pa_film_guidelines

searched the credits for

The lion the witch and the wardrobe and  The water horse but have found no reference to   the animal welfare institute being involved.

HOWEVER The water horse  ..

 Chris WELLS  who is Neil Wells‘s wife  has been supervising the  animal activity  on the  set of this movie. We  know that  she is not an  animal welfare inspector .

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