By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
It was the bungee jump stunt, carried out as a marketing exploit, that drew international backlash.
Slammed as animal cruelty at its worst, on 18 January 2020, a pig tied to a pole and wearing a cape was thrown off a 68-metre high bungee jump tower by employees at the Meixin Red Wine Town theme park in China.
The feat was part of a publicity stunt for the venue in the expansive municipality of Chongqing.
Footage of the screaming animal being hurled off the tall tower with all of its legs bound went viral, sparking global outrage on social media.
In the video, the pig can be heard shrieking as it is thrown and then yanked back up recurrently by the cord of the bungee.
Below, the crowd can be heard cheering, shouting and laughing.
The footage then cuts to a sickening scene of the helpless pig lying only half conscious on the platform before it is towed away by theme park staff.
Disturbing Act “Cruelty to Animals at its Worst”
Addressing the harrowing footage, vice president of international campaigns for the Asia branch of People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals, Jason Baker, said the exploitation was “cruelty to animals at its worst”.
“Pigs experience pain and fear in the same ways that we do, and this disgusting PR stunt should be illegal,” the vice president told BBC News.
“The Chinese public’s angry response should be a wake-up call to China’s policy-makers to implement animal protection laws immediately.”
Meanwhile, social media users were quick to accuse the Chinese theme park accountable for the harrowing publicity stunt as “using abuse for entertainment”.
They also described the bungee tower episode as “cruel” and “inhumane”.
Unsurprisingly, the act drew widespread condemnation by various animal rights organisations.
Theme Park’s Bewildering Apology
Many social media users questioned whether the amusement park had made an apology.
Meixin Red Wine Town theme park, which acknowledged the act was part of an opening ceremony for a new bungee jump attraction, eventually apologised following the public backlash.
The theme park said they “sincerely accept netizens’ criticism and advice and apologise to the public”.
Meanwhile, the owner told local media outlets that they “let the pig make the first jump because pork prices have been very high this year and recently they dropped a bit”.
The theme park also went on to wish internet users a happy Lunar New Year.
Ironically, this Lunar New Year, which begins on Friday, closes the Year of the Pig.
In China, animal cruelty is not against the law.
However, concerns about animal welfare are beginning to mount in the Asian nation, with many activists putting pressure on the government to implement legal protections for animals.
What the Law says about Animal Cruelty in NSW
In NSW, any form of animal cruelty is prohibited and thus animal cruelty offences are taken very seriously.
It is the obligation of the owner to provide for the welfare needs of their animals.
In NSW, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW) prohibits animal cruelty and was implemented to prevent cruelty to animals while promoting their welfare by making it compulsory for a person in charge of an animal to care for it, treat it humanely, and ensure the well-being of the animal.
As outlined in the Act, an animal is understood as any member of a vertebrate species. This includes fish, birds, mammals (other than human), reptiles and amphibians.
An animal also includes a crustacean when at a restaurant where food is prepared for consumption in the place by retail sale.
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What are the Penalties for Animal Cruelty in NSW?
In NSW, section 5 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW) reflects the law on cruelty to animals.
It advises that if you are found guilty of committing an act of cruelty to an animal, the maximum penalty you can face is up to six months in jail or a $5,500 fine, or both.
If you are found guilty as a corporation, the maximum penalty jumps to a fine of $27,500.
These maximum penalties apply to someone who is in charge of an animal, and does any one of the following:
- Fails to exercise reasonable supervision, control or care to prevent an act of cruelty on the animal.
- Fails to provide it with the necessary veterinary treatment.
- Fails to take reasonable & necessary steps to alleviate pain in a situation it’s suffering pain.
There are heavier penalties of up to two years imprisonment or $22,000 fine, or both if a person does the above, causing the animal death, deformity or a serious disablement or where it’s left severely injured/diseased/physical condition that it would be cruel for it to remain alive.
What is the definition of ‘act of cruelty’ under the law? It includes doing something or omitting to do something to the animal that unjustifiably, unreasonably or unnecessarily causes the animal to be beaten, wounded, killed, mutilated, maimed, abused, tormented, tortured, terrified, infuriated, kicked, overworked, overloaded, over driven, over used, exposed to too much heat or cold or inflicted with pain.
Click here for a list of the defences to these animal cruelty charges.
Click here for an outline on the penalties and defences to serious animal cruelty charges under the NSW Crimes Act 1900.