Animals used on The Hobbit have died. Animal rights groups are up in arms over the deaths of 27 animals used in the filming of the wildly popular movie “The Hobbit.” They are planning protests in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom where filming has taken place.

The film’s production company claims none of the animals died while actually shooting scenes. Rather they were housed on a farm that included numerous “death traps.”

But the “wranglers” specifically charged with caring for the animals said they complained in vain to the Warner Bros. owned production company. The farm where the animals were kept was filled with bluffs, sinkholes and other hazardous conditions for animals.

The death of two horses apparently was the catalyst that finally drew attention to the problem. A miniature named Rainbow “fell off a bank at speed and crash-landed. He was in a bad state,” Wrangler Chris Langridge told London’s Daily Mail.

“When I arrived at work in the morning, the pony was still alive but his back was broken,” said Langridge, who took care of up to 50 horses.

Director Peter Jackson today said through a spokesman that horses, goats, chickens and one sheep died at the farm near Wellington, New Zealand. The film used about 150 animals. “We do know those deaths were avoidable and we took steps to make sure it didn’t happen again,” he said.

The first movie in the planned $500 million trilogy, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” will premiere in New Zealand later this month and go global in December.