TOP SCOTTISH comedian Billy Connolly has been slammed by animal campaigners after receiving a pair of shoes made from the skin of stingrays.
The 70-year-old, who rose to fame in the 1970s wearing banana boots, claims he was given the exotic footwear from crew working on the next instalment of the Hobbit films.
He is currently starring as Dain Ironfoot, a dwarf warrior in the trilogy directed by Peter Jackson.
Mr Connolly discussed the controversial gift in a forthcoming BBC programme.
He said: “I like hanging out with the crew on these films… they build great things and they make things and you can always get things from them.
“They make belts and shoes and I’ve got a great pair of shoes from the Hobbit made of stingray. They’re brilliant, and they put frog inserts in my cowboy boots. If you hunt them down they can get things for you…I’m sure it’s terribly illegal.”
The comedian’s latest fashion move can cost up to £1,100 but has angered animal rights campaigners who have already criticised The Hobbit for their alleged high number of animal deaths during filming.
The Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) claimed that 27 animals, including sheep, goats and chickens, died during the film’s production.
A spokesman for Peta said: “Stingrays are fascinating, gentle sea animals, and they don’t deserve to be slaughtered for a pair of jokes shoes that will likely never even be worn.”
However, producers have strongly denied any animal mistreatment but accepted that the death of two horses could have been avoided.
Director, PeterJackson, seems to have distanced himself from Connolly’s comments which he made in the documentary celebrating his career as an actor and comedian.
Jackson said: “No stingray skin has been used in any costume or shoes or boots on The Hobbit.
“We understand that Billy Connolly had a pair of shoes made for himself while he was here in New Zealand.
“This was a private commission that had nothing to do with the film.”