French abattoir shut down over video of alleged animal abuse

A cow flails as it is moved along while hanging by one leg.
A cow flails as it is moved along while hanging by one leg.PHOTO: YOUTUBE
Pigs are strung up by one leg in a video screenshot.
Pigs are strung up by one leg in a video screenshot.PHOTO: YOUTUBE
A sheep struggles to stand after being hurled against the metal barrier as another sheep is hurled onto it.
A sheep struggles to stand after being hurled against the metal barrier as another sheep is hurled onto it.PHOTO: YOUTUBE
A sheep flails as it is raised up suspended by one leg.
A sheep flails as it is raised up suspended by one leg.PHOTO: YOUTUBE

LE VIGAN, France (AFP) - An abattoir in southern France was shut down on Tuesday pending an investigation after an animal rights group released a video purportedly showing abuse of livestock at the facility.

The group, L214, published the four-minute video on its website, claiming to have secretly filmed it at the abattoir in Le Vigan, in France's southern Gard region, which is certified as "organic".

Scenes include employees tasering livestock, hurling sheep against barriers, hanging pigs by one leg, and pulling a cow by one horn.

Cattle and pigs are supposed to be stunned to death before their throats are slit, but can be seen still moving as they are being bled.

The agency that manages the abattoir said it was closed until further notice and staff had been suspended. It said an internal investigation would be conducted.

Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll denounced what he called "intolerable practices", saying they would be "punished as they should be", and announced that national veterinary investigators would team up with local prosecutors investigating the case.

Animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot weighed in on the affair, saying Le Foll "should be ashamed" for his inaction over livestock abuse.

The former film star also denounced the "sadism of perverted unsupervised employees, a scandalous, unacceptable cruelty that makes you throw up".

Bardot, 81, recalled that she had demanded that surveillance cameras be set up in abattoirs nationwide after a similar video in October was published by L214 - the group's name refers to a 1976 legal clause establishing that animals are "sentient beings".

The small Le Vigan slaughterhouse processes between 300 and 350 tonnes of meat a year from around 100 livestock farmers in the region.

French pop singer Nili Hadida says on the video: "Even in an abattoir that emphasises organic and local (production), the animals suffer as they die."