Last week, a horse used in Amazon’s Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power spinoff died during morning exercises, sparking outrage from animal welfare groups. The incident has fueled calls for productions to stop using live animals on set, especially when there are viable CGI options available.
Confirming the horse’s death, an Amazon Studios spokesperson expressed their sadness over the incident. According to the representative, a veterinarian and a representative of the American Humane Association were present at the time of the horse’s death. An independent autopsy later confirmed that the horse died of cardiac failure.
PETA, one of the most vocal animal welfare organizations, slammed the producers for the use of live horses and called for an immediate halt to the use of live animals in film and TV productions. They stated that if producers can’t avoid exploiting animals for their art, they should consider a different medium altogether.
The horses were provided by the Devil’s Horsemen, a company with extensive experience working with film and TV productions. One source close to the production told Deadline that the set was cleared and everyone was asked to leave for 30 to 45 minutes while a team removed the body. The incident was the first time that one of the Devil’s Horsemen’s horses had died on a job.
While animal welfare groups continue to call for a ban on the use of live animals on set, the use of animals in film and TV productions remains a contentious issue. The debate has been ongoing for years, with some arguing that live animals are necessary to bring certain scenes to life, while others believe that CGI and other special effects can achieve the same results without endangering animals.
Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is set to return to Amazon for a second season in 2024. As the production moves forward, it remains to be seen whether the outcry from animal welfare groups will have any impact on how animals are treated on set