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January 23, 2013

Mom-to-Be Kristen Bell Calls for Better Conditions for Pregnant Pigs

“Movie 43” and “House of Lies” Star Urges Pork Industry Animal Welfare Reforms

Kristen Bell by Jonathan Ressler

Jonathan Ressler

The Humane Society of the United States applauds “Movie 43” star and mom-to-be Kristen Bell for calling on the National Pork Producers Council to end its endorsement of an inhumane pork industry practice that results in millions of pigs being nearly immobilized during their pregnancies. At issue is the pork industry’s use of gestation crates—cages used to tightly confine breeding pigs to the point that the animals can’t even turn around.

The actress, whose comedy “Movie 43” opens this week and who plays Jeannie Van Der Hooven in Showtime’s “House of Lies,” is serious when it comes to defending female pigs used for breeding in the pork industry. Bell expressed her concern in a letter to Neil Dierks, CEO of the National Pork Producers Council.

"I cannot imagine how awful and unnatural it would be to be physically restrained for the entire process of pregnancy, and for these pigs, it's for life," Bell said. "The pork industry's defense of cramming pregnant pigs into small crates where they cannot turn around or stretch their limbs is terribly cruel and inhumane."

Kristen Bell joins a long list of food industry titans, veterinarians and family farmers who have taken a stand against gestation crates. Announcements made recently by McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Oscar Mayer, Safeway and more than 40 other leading food companies signal a reversal in a three-decade-old trend in the pork industry that leaves most breeding pigs confined day and night in gestation crates during their four-month pregnancy. These cages are roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies and designed to prevent them from turning around. The animals are subsequently transferred into another crate to give birth, re-impregnated, and put back into a gestation crate. This happens pregnancy after pregnancy for their entire lives, adding up to years of virtual immobilization. This confinement system has come under fire from veterinarians, farmers, animal welfare advocates, animal scientists, consumers and others.

Facts:

  • Nine U.S. states have passed laws to ban the gestation crate confinement of pregnant pigs.
  • Renowned animal welfare scientist and pork industry advisor, Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is clear on this issue: “Confining an animal for most of its life in a box in which it is not able to turn around does not provide a decent life,” Grandin states. “We’ve got to treat animals right, and the gestation stalls have got to go.”
  • Leading pork producers Smithfield and Hormel have pledged to end the use of gestation crates at their company-owned facilities by 2017, and Cargill is already 50 percent crate-free.

Media Contact: Anna West: 301-258-1518; awest@humanesociety.org

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