On 20th September 2023, the ten pig residents of the “Progetto Cuori Liberi” animal sanctuary in Zinasco, Pavia, Italy, were killed by the authorities due to an outbreak of African Swine Fever, amid the protests of volunteers who tried to stop it but were dispersed by the police.

There was a hearing scheduled on 5th October to try to stop the killing legally but the authorities did not wait. The day before, a group of animal protection groups, including the International Organization for the Protection of Animals (OIPA), the Antivivisection League, and Animal Equality Italy, had sent an urgent request to the authorities asking for a different action, underlining the fact that the animals were “perfectly isolated, not destined for the food chain, some healthy, and others healthy carriers of ASF.”

According to OIPA, the ten pigs, “if kept alive, would have been the symbol of the redemption of the human side that should guide laws, regulations, and ordinances. Instead, they entered ignoring the demands of activists and animal protection organisations. It was preferred to treat them, as always, as objects or commodities.”

The killing was initially scheduled for Friday of the previous week, but activists mobilised and occupied the sanctuary stopping it. However, the following Wednesday, the police in riot gear entered the sanctuary, triggering a scuffle with the activists present, some of whom were injured. The Anti-Vivisection League said that “it was an unacceptable violence: isolated and protected animals are killed, when instead hunters are allowed to continue to kill wild boars and carry them around contributing to the spread of PSA. We are devastated and angry at this terrible injustice.”

In the province of Pavia alone, where the sanctuary is located, about 34 thousand pigs have been killed to date since the beginning of the swine fever epidemic, but these were destined to be killed for food anyway, just happened to die earlier than planned. However, the ten pigs hosted by the Progetto Cuori liberi sanctuary had been saved from farms and were supposed to be safe and be able to live their entire natural life in peace. Unfortunately, the violence of animal agriculture managed to kill them, as the measures taken by the authorities were aimed at protecting pig farmers.   

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.