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Largest petition in five years to be handed in to Parliament

14 March 2018 | MEDIA RELEASE
Embargoed until 6am 15 March

Largest petition in five years to be handed in to Parliament

Over 100,000 people – and a live pig - are asking for pigs to be protected from cruelty.

112,844 people have signed SAFE’s petition to ban the use of cruel farrowing crates, believed to be the largest petition to be handed in to Parliament in five years. The petition will be delivered to Green MP and spokesperson for animal welfare Gareth Hughes by the animal advocacy organisation, a live pig called Buttercup and actor Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie at 12:15pm, 16 March.

Farrowing crates, used by many in the New Zealand pig industry, breach of the Animal Welfare Act because they prevent pigs from expressing their normal behaviour, which is a requirement of the Act. Mother pigs (sows) are confined in farrowing crates to give birth and nurse their babies. They are unable to turn around for weeks on end and can even struggle to lie down.

Pigs are highly intelligent animals; equivalent in brainpower to a three-year-old child. They are nurturing mothers but without access to bedding, their natural instincts to build a nest or properly care for their babies are denied. To see the severe frustration in the eyes of these pigs paints a very sad picture, says Campaigns Director Mandy Carter.

“Treating animals like they are nothing more than production units in cages so small they cannot even perform many basic behaviours, is simply unacceptable in 2018 and in New Zealand. The Ministry for Primary Industries likes to boast we have the highest animal welfare standards in the world. It’s now time to make those ambitions a reality.”

Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie is currently making waves overseas in Leave No Trace, a film that recently had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Thomasin says, “I’m proud to support SAFE’s petition to ban cruel farrowing crates. It is unacceptable to treat animals this way.”

Following a campaign by SAFE, sow stalls, in which pigs were held during their pregnancies, were banned on cruelty grounds in 2010. Farrowing crates subject sows to the same mental deprivation and emotional stress. The government animal welfare committee, (NAWAC), agrees that farrowing crates do not meet the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act.

Undercover footage has shown sows repeatedly biting at the bars; behaviour indicating the animals do not cope with confinement in farrowing crates and show clear symptoms of severe stress.

Unlike its predecessor, the current Government revealed it would not support many factory-farmed methods deemed cruel by most New Zealanders. Before the 2017 election, both the Labour Party and the Greens pledged to end the use of farrowing crates.

“We call on the Government to stay true to their pre-election promises by banning this appalling practice,” says Ms Carter.

ends

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