Taipei, Aug. 10 (CNA) The decades-long practice of fattening pigs as part of a Taiwanese religious and cultural ceremony should be abandoned, an animal protection group said Wednesday.
The „God Pig“ contest — usually held during the annual Hakka Yimin Festival — must be abandoned, the Taipei-based Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) said ahead of this year’s festival that will begin next week.
As part of the popular festival in northern Taiwan, the competitor with the heaviest pig, a symbol of blessings, is awarded a prize.
In their efforts to produce pigs three times the normal weight, many people force-feed the animals, EAST CEO Chu Tseng-hung said at a news conference.
„Like human beings, obesity causes pigs to suffer serious diseases,“ Chu said.
Some pigs are even fed lead before the weighing, he said.
Another cruel practice is the ritual slaughter of the pigs by cutting their throats with a knife as a sacrifice to deities, Chu said.
He called on the relevant government agencies to play a more active part in stopping what he described as an inhumane and illegal ritual.
„The Council of Agriculture should enforce the Animal Protection Act,“ he said.
Citing EAST investigations, Chu said the „God Pig“ contest is not an indispensable religious ritual in Hakka culture.
Chu, who is also Hakka, encouraged the public to use other means to make their „God Pig.“ For example, flowers and environmentally friendly materials could be used, he suggested.
Along with EAST, representatives of other private groups and academics, mostly of Hakka heritage, also called for an end to the torture of animals in religious worship.
A petition on the issue, recently launched by EAST, has been backed by 177 Hakkas so far. At the news conference, EAST invited the public