Byline: BY SARAH BARDON
IT’S enough to turn any nag into a Grand National winner – run too slow and you’ll be fed to the lions.
Failed horses are being butchered and served up to the carnivores at Dublin Zoo, it has emerged.
The unwanted animals are sent to an abattoir in Co Kilkenny where they are slaughtered and sold on to the facility, pet food producers and restaurants in other EU countries.
A spokeswoman for Dublin Zoo said: “We use a selection of high quality meats, which are mainly pork, horse meat, lamb, chicken and fish.
“It is bought from B&F Meats. All meats that are used are suitable for human consumption.”
B&F Meats director Michael Farrell said horses going for slaughter has risen dramatically in the last few months.
He added poor prices are forcing owners to cull even young stock in an attempt to reduce their numbers and cut costs. Up to 100 horses are slaughtered every week.
One owner admitted: “A horse is a very expensive animal to keep and if they can’t race or jump or can’t reproduce, then they are not much use to anybody.
“It may seem cruel to people but this is one of the day-to-day realities of the equine industry in Ireland.”
Factory prices for the animals range from EUR100 to EUR400.
Mark Beazley of the ISPCA said: “The bloodstock industry has been severely affected by the recession.
“There are too many thoroughbred horses in Ireland and not enough owners who can afford to look after them.
“The last thing we want to see is thoroughbred horses being left and suffering.
“We don’t want to see horses being exported for slaughter again, so slaughtering them in Ireland has to be an option to examine.
“It’s difficult for an organisation like the ISPCA to recommend putting horses to sleep but we have to be realistic.
“It would be better if they were sent to a facility where they could be humanely slaughtered, rather than being left to starve.
“Slaughtering is the lesser of two evils.”