Thousands of retired racehorses are slaughtered on an "industrial scale" in Australia on behalf of the agri-food sector, revealed a journalistic investigation that prompted Friday authorities to react.
The slaughter of racehorses is not in itself illegal in Australia but, after a two-year investigation, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) said on Thursday that the practice was far more widespread than we believed.
The chain says that 8,500 horses stop participating each year in races.
The horse racing industry claims that less than one percent end up at slaughter or rendering. Some states such as New South Wales require that a second life be reserved for all animals that stop running.
But according to Paul McGreevy, a professor of behavioral science and animal welfare at the University of Sydney, who has been studying thoroughbreds for 25 years, about 4,000 animals "disappear" each year.
"We are talking about the destruction of animals on an industrial scale," he told ABC. "We see animals suffering, I do not think anyone in the area can defend this practice."
The Coalition for the Protection of Race Horses, for its part, said it had monitored for two years a slaughterhouse north of Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, to conclude that it killed 500 horses per month.
"It's a slaughterhouse that kills horses for human consumption," Coalition official Elio Celotto told ABC. The channel also aired footage showing she said employees were beating animals.
The meat "goes to several European countries, Japan, Russia," says Celotto.
The chain has also managed to identify some of the animals killed in the slaughterhouse by tracing them in the official online register of the horse industry, the Australian Stud Book.
It says that 300 animals, which had won a total of almost five million Australian dollars (three million euros) in racing, had been slaughtered in 22 days.
Queensland State Minister for Sport Stirling Hinchliffe said the charges were shocking and said inspectors were sent to the slaughterhouse on Friday.
"The abuse of animals is abominable," he said. "The charges of animal cruelty will be investigated."
Giles Thompson, director of racing in Victoria, said he was "disgusted by the horrible images" that were broadcast just days from Sydney's Everest, the world's best-equipped grass race. one month of the Melbourne Cup, the country's main horse racing competition.
"The welfare of horses is not negotiable for the Australian horse industry and the priority for all must be to find a safe haven for all healthy thoroughbreds who stop running," he said. .
© 2019 AFP