Rare animals attract praise for acting up

18:35, Nov 14 2012
Diane Kelly
FILM ROLE: Organiser of the rare breeds display Diane Kelly with Nellie, a miniature Galloway, which stars in The Hobbit.

Christchurch's own Nellie the cow could join the likes of Lassie, Flipper and Skippy when she makes an appearance in Peter Jackson's upcoming blockbuster The Hobbit.

The female miniature Galloway was "just meant to be floating in the background" of a scene in the long-awaited Peter Jackson movie when she walked up behind an actor, knocked his hat off and started licking his bald head.

"She just wouldn't stop licking his head. She's so good-natured and friendly and they just loved it so they're going to put it in the movie," said Diane Kelly, who brought Nellie to this year's Canterbury A&P Show.

The cow is part of a 120-strong display of rare breed animals at the show.

Dougal, an Awassi sheep who joined Nellie in Christchurch, was also on the set of Jackson's depiction of JRR Tolkien's classic tale.

Dougal was "not such a limelight seeker", Kelly said.

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"Nellie is the star and Nina is like her PA. "

The wannabe stars are owned by Willowbank Farm owner Michael Willis, who provided 13 of his animals for The Hobbit.

"All the animals I own personally are rare breeds and some of them are pretty much semi-pro actors now. Some of them had to stand in one position for five hours solid while actors worked around them and it requires a lot of professionalism."

Willis said Jackson did not want "normal-looking animals" because of the nature of the film.

"They ended up taking rare breeds of sheep, cattle, ducks, pigs, goats and geese."

The geese, named Huey, Dewey and Louie, are also on display at the A&P Show.

"We don't even know how much footage of the animals will make it into the final film, but it will be exciting to see."

The Press