THE head of the Animal Party Kyriacos Kyriacou said on Wednesday they had launched an investigation into reports of the alleged abuse of a pig after photos taken at an event organised by the Klavdia community council in Larnaca showed someone holding the animal upside down by its tail.
The education ministry is also launching a probe, reports said.
The photos, published in online news portal, lifenewscy.com, show the incident unfolding in front of a group of small children. The pig was part of a game in which it is set free and children run to catch it. The Animal Party also released a video of a group of children chasing the pig around a schoolyard. The one holding it by the tail appears to be a teenager who is shown in the video as the one who caught up with the animal. The event was organised on Tuesday as part of Easter games and festivities.
The community leader Nicos Chambi told the Cyprus Mail that they indeed organised such an event but denied there was animal abuse. “It was simply a game for children, where they had to catch the pig. How is that animal abuse?” he said.
Chambi added that he did not believe that anyone could actually hold a pig by its tail upside down as it is too heavy an animal, and declined an offer to send him the photos.
The community would not tolerate being accused of animal abuse, he added, as it operates a sanctuary for strays and unwanted dogs. He said pigs are slaughtered for meat every day and that touching the tail of a live one was not abuse. “Everyone who was present can confirm that there was no animal abuse,” he said.
A kindergarten teacher, who allegedly was the brains behind organising the specific game, reportedly sent a letter to lifenewscy.com, which was the first to publish the story, to ‘set the record straight’. According to the alleged letter, a number of traditional games were played at the event, “among them running after a pig, not abusing it”. “Before the games began, 250 pork souvlaki portions had been consumed,” the letter said. She added that the specific game has taken place for decades in villages all over Cyprus.
The Animal Party’s Kyriacou said that they had reported the incident to the Aradippou police and that they too had launched an investigation. The photos circulated in the media, were taken by two people who were at the event, he said.
To organise such events, Kyriacou said, where animals are involved, one must first acquire a special licence, and after measures were taken as to the animals’ safety, and wellbeing.
According to the law, it is forbidden to expose animals to pain, hardship, injury or fear, the party said.
It added that it received a number of reports of animal abuse taking place as part of traditional Easter games.
The Animal Party averted a similar event from taking place during the Easter holidays this time in Pachna where a piglet and a rooster were to be set free to be to chased by children and they would be the prize for those who would manage to catch them.
“We informed the Pachna community council that it is illegal to treat animals in such a way and they cancelled the event. Some traditional games involving animals are no longer acceptable by today’s norms” Kyriacou said.
“In other cases, it was donkey rides where participants, unknowingly, whipped donkeys violently and repeatedly. The animals have no flexibility, and most are not even ready for such races, which causes stress to the animal and often causing serious injuries,” the party said in an announcement.
Last year, it said, at the village of Kelokedara some spray painted on a sheep the word “Gift” and marched it in the village square.
“The Animal Party stresses to all those involved or participate in these ‘Easter traditions’ and informs them that there are now laws that protect and care for the animals’ welfare”.
It is no longer acceptable, it said, to “give hell to God’s creatures under the guise of such customs”.
“We call on the competent authorities, the unions of municipalities and communities to apply the legislation and set a good example,” the party said.