Animal Dies During 'Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power' Season 2 Rehearsal

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power suffered a tragedy when a production horse died during rehearsal for a scene in season 2. Studio officials confirmed the horse's death on March 21 from cardiac arrest. "We are deeply saddened to confirm that a production horse died," an Amazon Studios spokesperson stated. "The incident took place in the morning whilst the horse was being exercised prior to rehearsals. The trainer was not in costume and filming had yet to commence. Both a veterinarian and a representative of the American Humane Association were present at the time. The independent necropsy has confirmed that the horse died of cardiac failure." About 30 horses were on set that day, all supplied by highly regarded outfitter The Devil's Horsemen, a company providing horses to various shows, including Game of Thrones. The horse was reportedly standing among 20 other horses when it died. It had no prior health problems and was the first animal fatality on set in the company's 50-year history, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Animal rights organization PETA released a statement urging the show to "stop lording over animals. "It seems that living underground with the orcs is par for the course for the producers of The Rings of Power because they have the option to use CGI, mechanical rigs and other humane methods that wouldn't run vulnerable horses to death on set," said Senior Vice President Lisa Lange. "PETA is calling on the show's creators — and all other producers — to take on a new quest without using any real horses. If they can't avoid exploiting animals for their art, they should find a new medium, because no one wants to see a spinoff for TV with torment as the theme."

THR noted that productions have become more conscious of how animals are treated on set over the past two decades. Nevertheless, regardless of fault, every animal's death tends to be accompanied by some backlash amid activists' persistent call to use CG instead of live animals during productions. A recent video by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports, which is considered to be very strict about animal welfare, details the behind-the-scenes work of The Devil's Horseman. In recent months, the second season of The Rings of Power has been filming in the U.K., and several new cast members have been announced. After the first season premiered in spring, it became Prime Video's most-watched original series, streamed for more than 24 billion minutes. It tells the story of Middle-earth's second age. Prime Video will release the next eight-episode season in 2024.