A live pig race at a food festival has been cancelled after a petition was launched raising animal welfare concerns.
The event had been set to take place at the Winchester Cheese and Chilli Festival, but after an online petition reached 46,873 supporters, the organisers decided to drop the race.
A notice placed on the festival’s Facebook page states: “CUSTOMER NOTICE: Pig racing was scheduled to take place at the Winchester, Hampshire Cheese & Chilli Festival over the weekend of the 18th & 19th August but due to the continued hot temperatures and having sought the advice of the RSPCA, the local authority and the pig operator, we have decided to withdraw pig racing from the event in order to protect the wellbeing of the pigs.
A spokesman for the Animal Aid charity said that it had contacted the mayor of Winchester asking for the local authority to intervene.
He said: “The pigs were due to be forced to run in front of potentially loud crowds in scorching heat – which would no doubt have caused these sensitive animals undue stress, in addition to the distress and heat produced through transportation.
“We have received confirmation by the senior animal welfare officer for Winchester City Council that the event will no longer take place.
“The campaign group Pigs Don’t Race – who campaign against pig racing events – set up a petition that amassed more than 40,000 signatures in a very short space of time.
“Animal Aid would like to thank our supporters who alerted us to this event, Pigs Don’t Race for jumping into action, and of course the council who took the animal welfare concerns on board and worked with the organisers to halt the event.”
A spokesman for Winchester City Council confirmed that it had held discussions with the festival organisers.