The Gaia association on Tuesday cut up 50 metal cages with electric saws at the Place de l’Albertine in Brussels to denounce the use of cages, often excessively small, in the European livestock industry. The protest action kicked off the animal rights group’s new campaign “Exit the cages”, aimed at having the issue included on the European’s Commission’s agenda.
“We really wish to put an end to the caging of animals, a shameful, indecent system that causes terrible suffering to millions of animals within the European Union,” Gaia President Michel Vandenbosch said.
“This measure affects layer hens as well as rabbits, Cornish hens, ducks, geese and pigs,” he explained. “For example, sows kept in farrowing crates can barely move and are therefore unable to take care normally of their piglets.”
According to Gaia, 370 million animals are enclosed in cages throughout Europe. This is the lot of 4.5 million of them, mainly hens, in Belgium, where “39% of the 3.7 million (…) hens still live in cages,” the association stressed. Moreover, enclosed animals develop “abnormal behaviour patterns linked to compulsive obsessive disorder,” it noted.
Gaia’s campaign is part of a Europe-wide initiative supported by some 130 organisations. Their aim is to collect a million signatures in at least eight EU member States to oblige the Commission to examine the issue.
“We’re aiming at a minimum of 20,000 signatures in Belgium,” Vandenbosch said.