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23 Movie Sets That Have Killed Animals During Production

Updated September 23, 2021 1.5m views23 items
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Watching animals get hurt in movies is more gut-wrenching than watching back-to-back Nicholas Sparks movies. When an animal seems to be harmed in a movie, there's an unspoken rule that you have to watch the credits to make sure you see that American Humane Association stamp of "no animals were harmed." However, that hasn't always been the case. From cult classics to some of the most high-profile blockbusters of recent memory, some films actually had animals felled during production. (Animals who survived production aren't necessarily out of the woods, either.)

Sometimes the passings were unintentional or an accidental by-product of filming. Sometimes, however, the demises of animals were very, very intentional. It's obvious when an actor eats a live animal in front of the camera (and, yes, an actor actually did that). 

It often seems needless and primarily used for shock value because ending an animal almost always gets a strong reaction. We'd be worried if it didn't. With other stories, the result was simply tragic, where filmmakers did their best to secure the safety of animals but it just wasn't enough. This list catalogs a bunch of films where animals were harmed or expired on the filmmaker's watch.

  • According to The Hollywood Reporter, more than two dozen animals passed due to unsafe housing conditions during the filming of The Hobbit movies. The American Humane Association said no animals were harmed during filming but pointed out that it doesn't keep track of the facilities where the animals are kept off-screen. 

    However, director Peter Jackson released a statement saying the allegations are untrue. A representative for Jackson admitted some animals perished, but mostly from natural causes.

    ​​​​​​Body Count: 27 (allegedly)

    • Actors: Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Orlando Bloom, Aidan Turner, Sylvester McCoy
    • Released: 2012
    • Directed by: Peter Jackson
  • In 2007, five golden retriever puppies perished as a result of filming for Disney's Snow Buddies. Keystone Productions bought 28 dogs from a breeder in New York and shipped them to Canada. But after only a few days, 15 of the pups started were diagnosed with giardia and coccidia, a parasitic disease.

    Six more puppies were treated for a contagious disease called parvovirus. Three dogs had to be euthanized for intestinal complications and two more passed later. 

    Body Count: 5

    • Actors: Whoopi Goldberg, Kris Kristofferson, Molly Shannon, Jim Belushi, Dylan Sprouse
    • Released: 2008
    • Directed by: Robert Vince
  • In adapting Charles Willeford's novel for the screen, director Monte Hellman staged actual, to-the-death cockfights. It got the film banned in the UK forever.

    Body Count: Unknown, but numerous.

    • Actors: Ed Begley, Jr., Harry Dean Stanton, Troy Donahue, Warren Oates
    • Released: 1974
    • Directed by: Monte Hellman
  • Originally released in Japan, The Adventures Of Milo And Otis was re-released in the US several years later with narration by Dudley Moore. But the film's production was not overseen by the American Humane Society and there were rumors of animal cruelty in the years that followed.

    It's believed that several kittens perished during the production in addition to claims of rampant animal abuse.

    Body Count: several (allegedly)

    • Actors: Dudley Moore, Shigeru Tsuyugushi
    • Released: 1986
    • Directed by: Masanori Hata