After 500 years, it’s time to welcome wild pigs as a native Florida animal

For Immediate Release: March 29, 2013

As Florida marks five centuries of European influence, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) is making the case that it’s time to welcome wild pigs as a Florida animal.

Although Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon may not have had pigs with him when his ships first landed in Florida in April 1513, it’s believed that he brought pigs to Florida on his return trip eight years later. Descendents of these pigs (as well as pigs from Hernando de Soto’s 1539 expedition) roam, root and reproduce across Florida today. Florida was likely the first state in the continental United States to have pigs.

“This year there will be events and exhibits celebrating the introduction by the Spanish of horses, cattle and oranges to Florida,” said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. “We want to take this opportunity to remind people that pigs have also been in Florida for (almost) 500 years.”

The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) considers wild pigs, and every plant or animal that “did not historically occur in Florida,” to be non-native. This designation may not mean much for cracker horses or oranges, but it has been used as justification for horrible acts of cruelty against wild pigs.

“In Florida hunters use packs of dogs, and primitive weapons like knives and spears, to chase down and kill wild pigs,” Anthony said. “Such cruel acts would not be allowed in the pursuit of deer or other ‘native’ animals in Florida.”

ARFF is calling on the FWC to end the use of dogs to hunt wild pigs, prohibit the use of inhumane weapons, such as spears and swords, and  prohibit castration by hunters of young male pigs without anesthesia.

Visit ARFF’s website– –for more information about wild pigs in Florida.

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Disappointing news for circus elephant

This week it was announced that circus owner Hugo Liebel had agreed to pay $7,500 to settle charges that he repeatedly violated the Animal Welfare Act in his treatment and handling of animals, including an elephant named Nosey. It was a case that ARFF had been closely following. It’s hard not to be discouraged by such a small fine.

But there are signs that people are becoming more aware of the suffering of elephants and other animals in traveling circuses. Last weekend, ARFF protested the Cole Bros. Circus in DeLand. Following one of the shows, a man who went to the circus with his son spoke on camera about the elephants. “It seemed a little awkward to see them being controlled like that, out of their natural environment,” the man said, and added that he went online during the show and learned that the circus has a horrible history. He thanked activists for being there. View the video here.

Orlando’s Lake Eola Park: a bad place to be a swan

In 2008, ARFF objected when the City of Orlando announced plans to import a group of swans to Lake Eola Park to be added to the already large number of swans on the lake. ARFF criticized the plan as irresponsible, primarily because Lake Eola is a busy, urban park that is a poor environment for captive animals. Park visitors feed the swans everything from white bread to Cheetos, and the birds are susceptible to becoming victims of human cruelty (the swans have had their wings clipped, a permanent amputation that prevents them from flying very well and escaping from danger).

This week we learned of another in a long list of incidents in which swans at Lake Eola were victims of cruelty. Orlando police are looking for a man who released his dog from its leash to attack a swan. The bird was euthanized after suffering severe injuries.

In January 2012, a man was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals after he grabbed a swan and carried the bird out of Lake Eola by the neck. In July 2011, police followed a trail of feathers to the home of a man who had taken a swan from the lake. In October 2010, at least six swans were stolen by a man who had intended to sell the animals. In June 2009 police arrested a man at the park for grabbing two swans by the neck. We could go on…

It’s clear that the City of Orlando is unable to protect the swans at Lake Eola Park. Contact Orlando’s Mayor and ask that the city never again purchases swans for Lake Eola.


Mayor Buddy Dyer

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