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Protesters honk about treatment of geese

Aug 3rd, 2009 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

protest-mainANIMAL rights protesters chanted slogans outside the Museum Hotel last week to draw attention to what they called the inhumane practice of fattening geese for foie gras.

They chose the the hotel because Hippopotamus restaurant serves the French delicacy, made from the enriched liver of duck or goose.

It is illegal to produce foie gras in New Zealand, but not illegal to import and sell.

The aim of the protest was to encourage a boycott, says protester Ursula Osbourne. Most foie gras is factory farmed, with the birds in metal cages, she says.

Timothee Lepoutre, maitre d’ at the Hippopotamus, says he completely understands the protesters’ point.

But the foie gras imported for Hippopotamus comes from Le Vieux Chene, a farm in the south-west of France, not from America or Poland, where they do “horrible things to the goose”.

“There’s a way to do it and I think the geese are not unhappy,” he says. If done right, “there is nothing wrong with it, actually”.

National chief executive of the SPCA, Robyn Kippenberger, says her organisation is against foie-gras production, because it causes pain and discomfort to the animal.

The protesters objected most to the practice of forcing a metal pipe into the birds’ beaks, which can bruise and tear the throat.

They say the livers can become diseased from the unnatural diet and swell up to 10 times their normal size.

Ms Kippenberger says the SPCA could approach the government to ban the importing of foie gras, but New Zealand’s animal welfare laws are focused on animals that are in New Zealand.

“It’s a really small market in New Zealand,” she says.

“That’s not to say that what’s happening to the animals is insignificant, but … making people aware of what they are eating is a much more immediate way of getting the trading stopped because, if people don’t want to order it, the restaurants won’t sell it.”

PICTURE: Protestor Ursula Osbourne speaks out against animal cruelty.

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