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HBO Confirms Horse Died on The Gilded Age Set After PETA Calls for Investigation

According to a veterinarian's preliminary findings, the horse likely died "of natural causes."
  • The Gilded Age (Photo: Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO)
    The Gilded Age (Photo: Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO)

    HBO has confirmed that a horse "collapsed and died" on the set of The Gilded Age, after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) demanded an investigation into the incident.

    This week, PETA issued a letter to HBO Chief Content Officer Casey Bloys claiming that a 23-year-old horse with possible health issues died during filming and called on the network to confirm the death.

    "We're calling on HBO to confirm the death, to conduct an immediate internal investigation into the incident, and to hold the party or parties who allowed it to occur responsible," wrote Courtney Penley, PETA's coordinator for Animals in Film & Television. "Finally, we're asking you to take measures so that something similar never happens again."

    Penley also referenced another HBO show in the letter, 2012's Luck, which was canceled after three horses died during filming.

    The letter argued that horses should never be used in film or television productions, but if they are used, then an equine behaviorist should always be on set.

    After the letter was published, HBO confirmed to Primetimer that the horse died "likely of natural causes, according to a veterinarian's preliminary findings."

    "The safety and well-being of animals on all our productions is a top priority, and the producers of The Gilded Age work with American Humane to ensure full compliance with all safety precautions," the network added.

    "Following AHA's recommendation, the horse was transported to a facility for a full necropsy. AHA has interviewed all involved personnel, and full necropsy results are pending."

    According to HBO, horse wranglers and a veterinarian confirmed that the horse had not displayed any signs of discomfort in the 70-degree weather and had not been overworked or overheated prior to its collapse. The horse was 22 years old and had prior filming experience.

    15 minutes after a one-hour rest period, the horse began filming a scene involving a carriage and two passengers. Filming was halted immediately during attempts to administer aid to the horse; after these attempts were unsuccessful, production wrapped for the day.

    The Gilded Age is currently streaming on HBO Max.

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    Deena ElGenaidi's writing has been featured in Nylon, MTV News, Insider, The AV Club, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @deenaelg.

    TOPICS: The Gilded Age, HBO, PETA