|February 26, 2002 Tasmania, Australia
Animal Liberation Victoria (ALV) joined with Pam Clarke (Tasmanian veteran battery hen campaigner) for a week of action in Tasmania that had the entire Australian Island State talking about battery hen cruelty.
ALV's Action Animal Rescue Team (including activists from Victoria, Tasmania and New Zealand) successfully saved the lives of 8 very debilitated battery hens. The mutilated hens were removed from old rusty bateria laden cages in a shed filled with overwhelming noxious fumes at the PUREFOODS egg factory in Longford (near Launceston).
The rescue, followed by a press conference, followed by a storm on the Minister's office, followed by another rescue attempt all over a four day period captured intense media coverage including two FRONT PAGE features in the Hobart MERCURY, (Tasmania's leading daily paper) and eight TV NEWS stories running three nights in a row [ABC (Channel 2) three nights in a row; WIN (Channel 9) three nights in a row; and SOUTHERN CROSS (Channel 7) two nights in a row.] The majority of all these TV news stories opened with dramatic footage of activists cutting open the battery cages and freeing the hens (see photos). Pam Clarke and Patty Mark also did live radio interviews and there were other newspaper articles.
Pam Clarke (60) and Patty Mark (52) were both arrested by the CIB and charged with burglary and stealing for removing the eight very ill birds. The women were videotaped, fingerprinted and DNA tested in the police station and bailed to appear in the Hobart Magistrates Court on April 8, 2002
A brief diary of how the events occured:
Monday, February 25, 2002
Rescue team attempts to enter shed at PUREFOODS EGG FACTORY in Longford, Tasmania, but finds that access doors to hens have all been alarmed. (the rescue team has had several successful hen rescues at this notoriously filthy battery hen factory in the past). Four security vehicles arrived within five minutes so rescue was aborted.
Tuesday/Wednesday, February 26/27
Rescue team members returned the next night (February 26) and stood guard until the coast was clear. Then in the early hours of Wednesday, February 27 about 2:30 am they were able to avoid security alarms by entering a shed through a manure pit where faeces from the four tiers of battery hens were piled waist high. Wearing protective clothing and breathing masks, the team worked quickly to rescue some hens, as the smell in the shed was overwhelming...Pam Clarke was gagging and nearly passed out. The only possible way to reach the hens was to put a ladder over the manure and reach up with boltcutters to cut out the bottom of the old rusty dirty cages (which didn't need much cutting). The hens were in very bad condition suffering long overgrown claws, badly mutilated beaks, anemic combs and cloudy eyes. Activists took the first eight hens in the bottom row nearest the door. Over 40,000 hens had to be left behind.
Thursday, February 28, 2002
The team organised a media conference at the Hobart Environment Centre, showing their dramatic video footage and displaying two of the hens. The media packed the room and Tassie's three main TV stations ran stories that night and the Hobart MERCURY gave it front page photo coverage the following morning (see photos)
Click here to see the Media Release
Friday, March 1, 2002
The Government continued to ignore the issues (eg. animal cruelty, public health risk and criminal activity) so the rescue team next stormed David Llewellyn's office (he is both the Minister for Primary Industries and the Police). This event was again attended by heaps of media and televised that night. However, after yet again being ignored by the Minister's Department and phone calls to police, the activists emailed a letter to the Minister with a cc to the Police Commissioner and all media that they would again break into PUREFOODS BATTERY HEN factory that night at 9 pm. They arrived to find numerous police officers all over the country road, a road block and CIB detectives. The Hobart MERCURY were on the scene and they again featured this story on their front page the following morning. The activists were escorted to the Launceston Police station, where after questioning, both Pam Clarke and Patty Mark were charged with burglary and stealing. It is ridiculous that such a stunt had to be carried out to get the authorities to take this important issue seriously.
Click here to see the open letter to the Minister
Meanwhile eight very lucky hens are living free under some beautiful apple trees in sunny Tasmania.
This rescue was initially timed to coincide with the six monthly meeting of all Australian and New Zealand Agriculture Ministers, scheduled for Hobart on March 1. This meeting was postponed until April 18 at the last minute. The rescue team is determined to see that the agricultural ministers put battery hen cruelty back on the Agenda. (In August 2000 they failed to ban the cage, only slightly increasing cage sizes). Tasmanian Agriculture Minister Llewellyn is up for election later this year.
Visit the latest news section for updates on this rescue.
Click on any photo for larger version
'hobart mercury' cover stories
noah cuts through the rusty old cage to free the battery hens
noah hands battery hen to pam, while romeo films the footage that was televised statewide
pam with rescued hen
press conference at environment centre
storming the minister's office
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arrest during second raid