25th May 2007
Animal charities have criticised a 'family fun' pig racing event after it emerged the animals would be barbecued to celebrate the end of the season.
The four hapless hogs - named Smoky Bacon, Pork Scratching, Apple Sauce and Pork Chop - will compete in a daily 40-metre dash for the amusement of visitors to the Cornish Birds of Prey Centre.
Three of the hogs in training for the pig racing
The 22-week-old male Tamworth pigs are already in training for the summer holidays when they will have saddles strapped to their backs to be ridden by rag dolls displaying the swine's racing colours.
Children will be able to place mock bets on their favourite racers before they are jostled onto the track and cajoled into completing the gruelling sprint.
But after completing the task over 40 times during the six-week holiday period the weary porkers will face one final grilling - when they are slaughtered and eaten at the centre's end of season banquet.
A spokesman for animal rights charity Animal Aid strongly criticised the event, calling it "exploitative, degrading and inhumane".
He said: "Pigs are very sensitive and intelligent creatures - it is appalling that they should be subjected to this level of stress.
"It is shocking that they are using the pigs as entertainment and a means to make money - but the fact they will then go on to eat them when they've finished is unbelievable. Such a demeaning, uncivilised and crass form of entertainment should not be tolerated.
"Pigs are not racing creatures - they thrive in a peaceful family environment. And if they are going to be slaughtered they should at least be given some dignity in their lives."
The pigs named Smoky Bacon, Pork Scratching, Apple Sauce and Pork Chop are to be killed after the event in St Columb, Cornwall
A spokesman for the Captive Animal Protection Society added: "They are basically exploiting these animals for fun.
"The pigs will get nothing from it and then be eaten for their trouble."
But Kelly Brown, one of the partners at the centre in St Columb, Cornwall, defended the racing and said the pigs will have had "a good life".
"They're lovely animals and we're all very fond of them," she said.
"We've been training them up and getting them ready for the racing so they're used to people screaming around them and running the course.
"At no point have we hidden the fact that ultimately we plan to eat them. We know they've had a good life and have been well-fed and looked after.
"At the centre we actively promote healthy organic produce and educating children about where food comes from and this forms part of that programme."
The Cornish Birds of Prey Centre have over 50 birds which take place in flying displays for visitors.
Pig racing will take place daily at 1pm with children able to purchase badges saying which swine they expect to win.
At the end of the race successful betters can exchange their badge for different goods at the centre's gift shop.