WHATEVER HAPPENED TO OSCAR?
In Snout 17, we reported on the sensitivity and intelligence of pigs and the abuse to which they were routinely subjected, especially when going to slaughter. This brought to mind the story of Oscar the piglet.
On Monday 8th August, 1994, South Africans were aghast at a report in The Pretoria News of animal abuse at a University of Pretoria (TUKS) rugby match two days previously. A group of ten apparently drunken TUKS students used a live piglet as a rugby ball during the half-time interval of an inter-varsity match between the University and the Rand Afrikaans University (RAU). The 4-month-old piglet had been transported from Lichtenburg to Pretoria in a sack (a journey of 220 kms) before being released onto the rugby field. As the newspaper pointed out "most societies are reasonably tolerant of students' occasional lapses of good sense. But there is a big difference between a silly prank and downright crassness."
Amid the resultant public outcry, the Pretoria SPCA offered a reward of R1000 for the arrest of the persons responsible. This reward was increased to R 2000 as donations from the public poured in to the SPCA.
An investigation was launched and the culprits identified. They appeared before the newly constituted TUKS Student Court for "bringing the image and interests of the student community into disrepute," and fined R150 each. The SPCA confirmed that that organisation would press criminal charges.
The bruised and traumatised piglet made a national TV appearance when the investigative programme Carte Blanche interviewed the SPCA, as well as Tukkie students at the College residence where the culprits were housed, but it was clear that those students who were interviewed considered that the incident had been blown out of proportion. Comments like "it's only a pig" and "it was only going to be made into bacon and polony anyway" abounded.
The piglet was now firmly on the way to fame. He was named Oscar after a competition was launched to find a suitable name for him. The Pretoria SPCA undertook to build a special sty for Oscar, forming part of their farmyard which was used to teach children about animals. The Pretoria News undertook to pay for the upkeep of the piglet for the rest of his natural life. At a later stage a mate was found to share the sty with Oscar as donations continued to pour into the SPCA's coffers.
A few years later, Oscar had mysteriously disappeared from the SPCA scene and so we 'phoned the then manager of the Pretoria SPCA, Mr. Roelf Venter, and enquired about Oscar. Not very friendly, he could not tell us what had happened to him, although he did remember Oscar (he had been assistant manager at the time.) Eventually we elicited the information that Oscar "had been sent to Natal." No, they had no record of where exactly he had gone to. This seemed rather strange, as Oscar had brought quite a bit of money into the SPCA coffers.
So the question remains - was Oscar sent to the slaughterhouse to be turned into bacon and polony after all, cast aside like the Christmas puppy upon reaching adulthood?
The animals of the world exist for their own reason. They were
not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites
or women for men.
(Author Alice Walker)
Picture courtesy of Compassion in World Farming.
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