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TV Pig Grunty Spared From Slaughter

June 21, 2001

Grunty the pig was saved from slaughter Thursday when a judge ruled that the TV star sow did not pose a threat to Britain's efforts to end a livestock epidemic.

The 6-year-old pig, kept as a pet on a farm in southwest England, was condemned for slaughter after a nearby farm visited by her owner was found to be infected with foot-and-mouth disease.

High Court Justice Michael Harrison denied a government request for an injunction that would have forced Grunty's owner, Rosemary Upton, to allow slaughtermen onto her property.

"I am so jubilant I just can't describe it -- it is wonderful news,'' Upton said from her farm in Wellington. "Grunty is blissfully unaware of everything that goes on in the human world, but she seems very happy."

The case stirred international attention following mistaken reports that Grunty, a New Zealand Kune Kune pig, had played the lead role in the U.S. Film ``Babe.''

The pig did achieve a measure of British television fame after being selected by Channel 5 to become a ``My Fair Lady'' of swine.

Like the heroine of George Bernard Shaw's ``Pygmalion,'' Grunty underwent intensive etiquette training for `Pig at the Ritz,'' a program about a pig so well-mannered it could daintily eat at one of London's finest restaurants.

A lawyer for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Christopher Vadja, argued that the decision to kill Grunty was in line with Britain's Animal Health Act, which calls for the slaughter of `any animal which appears ... to be in any way exposed to the infection of foot-and-mouth.''

But Harrison ruled there was no evidence that Grunty or 11 rare sheep on Upton's farm had been infected. The pig had not displayed any symptoms of the disease nine days after the suspected contamination, he said. Foot-and-mouth has a maximum incubation period of five days.

More than 4 million pigs, sheep and cattle have been culled in a three-month effort to contain Britain's outbreak. While not fatal, foot-and-mouth causes wasting in cloven-hoofed animals.

Grunty Web site, http://www.pigattheritz.co.uk/
Government's foot-and-mouth site, http://www.maff.gov.uk/animalh/diseases/fmd/default.htm
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press Information Services, all rights reserved.

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