“In your heart” is the official tourist slogan for Cyprus, the island in the Mediterranean popular with British tourists.
Cyprus is also a member of the European Union. It must be compliant with EU laws and regulations relating to farmed animals. Sadly, two undercover investigations we made this summer showed pigs, goats and sheep have yet to be welcomed into the country’s heart and benefit from the hard-fought legal protections adopted by the EU.
In May we presented to the Cypriot agriculture minister evidence, including video, from our slaughterhouse investigations. It showed goats and sheep were slaughtered in horrifically cruel and illegal conditions. The goats were chained by their rear legs while fully conscious. They were hoisted up and left dangling upside down bleating piteously. It was only then that they were stunned. It is illegal to suspend or hoist conscious animals. The stunning was also ineffectively administered. Clearly, the employees were not properly trained.
Also, our footage documented one man cutting the throats of goats and another immediately cutting off their horns. It is unlikely they were dead at this time. They would have felt extreme pain. Some goats were stunned appropriately. But they did not have their throats cut until three minutes later. It is likely they regained consciousness. They were aware of their own slaughter when it occurred. Most of the sheep were slaughtered without first being stunned.
Our exposé did result in a fine being imposed on the slaughterhouse owner. Two employees who handled the animals were also fired. Local press reports state the government is taking additional measures. These developments are, of course, to be welcomed but the situation is still far from satisfactory.
Our second investigation documented systemic, non-compliance with EU law for pigs on Cypriot farms. Pigs in all of the farms we visited were living in barren conditions. There was no straw or any other materials to sufficiently occupy them. Their tails were docked. Some suffered from severe tail wounds. It is illegal to routinely dock tails if alternative solutions have not been tried. Many of the pigs were living in poorly maintained and filthy pens. Living conditions were frequently unsanitary, with fly infestations rife.
At nine out of the ten farms we visited, we saw sick and injured pigs who were not being cared for properly. There were many injured and sick pigs on one farm. This included three dead pigs on the ground outside covered with flies. There was also a sow with a sore on her front leg and a piglet who had difficulty standing on her rear legs. A potential public health risk occurred on one farm. Dead pigs were left uncovered to rot at the side of a public highway. I sent a letter of complaint to the minister with our evidence.
There is no excuse for any EU country to not be compliant with EU law protecting farmed animals.