Actor ELIJAH WOOD has hit back at reports suggesting animals were mistreated during the making of THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, calling the complaint "heartbreaking and ridiculous".
Activists at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) went public with the news after four wranglers reported allegations of abuse and incompetence, which they blamed for the deaths of 27 animals in their charge on a farm near Wellington, New Zealand, where they were housed between takes.
Director Peter Jackson vehemently denied the allegations, and now Wood, who plays Frodo in The Lord of the Rings prequel, has backed him up.
Wood tells TMZ.com, "That (report) was the most ridiculous thing ever. It was really heartbreaking actually. I didn't even read the full report, I just read the response to it.
"It was heartbreaking because I never saw any of those kind of conditions when I was down there. All of the technicians and everyone who works on the films take the utmost care of the animals that worked in the film."
Wood went on to question the motive of the whistle-blowers who came forward, adding, "The timing is so obvious as well, it's so obvious. We're premiering the movie in less than a week. It's a shame."