Foie Gras: Delicacy of Despair (Gourmet Cruelty)
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The Investigation

Every year in the United States almost half a million ducks are confined, tortured and slaughtered for their livers. Just two companies are responsible for all of this suffering—Hudson Valley Foie Gras in New York, and Sonoma Foie Gras in California.

In the summer of 2002, a coalition of animal protection groups and concerned individuals requested tours of these facilities. No responses ever came. Determined to discover the truth, the coalition investigated and documented what goes on behind their closed doors. uncovered an industry wide standard of filth, cruelty, and disregard for suffering.

Inside the giant sheds of these factory farms, investigators witnessed and documented tens of thousands of ducks crammed into filthy, crowded pens, and tens of thousands more languishing in tiny isolation cages so small they could barely move, much less spread their wings or turn around.

At Hudson Valley Foie Gras, investigators found many birds blinded by infections. In some cases, these infections were so severe that it was difficult to tell where their eyes once were.

At Sonoma Foie Gras, investigators encountered many birds with festering gaping wounds on their rears. Investigators documented two birds literally being eaten alive by a rat. In the isolation cages of Hudson Valley, many birds had painful open wounds and stained the birds in adjacent cages with their blood.

Investigators also documented the daily torture of the forced-feeding process at both facilities.

Forced-feeding begins when the ducks are just three months old. For nearly a month, the ducks have a long metal pole repeatedly shoved down their throats. Through this pole, they are forced to ingest a pound of food—a tenth of their healthy body weight—three times a day.

Investigators documented workers carelessly and roughly grabbing ducks by their throats as they struggled to avoid the forced-feeding pipe. After pumping massive quantities of food into the ducks stomachs, one worker was documented literally throwing birds across the pen.

Investigators uncovered the aftermath of this forced-feeding at both farms. documented dying birds covered in their own vomit. The corpses of birds who had suffocated and choked to death from forced-feeding were found in the cages and pens. Numerous garbage cans filled with dead birds, some of whom appeared to have exploded from the forced-feeding process, were also uncovered.

Along with the cans of corpses and the dead birds who were found in the pens and cages, investigators found decaying corpses on the floor, in piles of excrement, and under pens. The stench of death permeated the sheds. The discarded victims of foie gras production were everywhere, laying testament to the cruelty of the industry.

The Rescue

Investigators were able to rescue 15 of these long suffering birds from Hudson Valley Foie Gras and Sonoma Foie Gras. Though these ducks escaped the daily torture of life on the factory farm, their bodies were left ravaged. Due to the intense confinement and abuse many were unable to walk at first. Almost all of them needed to overcome the trauma of forced-feeding and re-learn how to eat on their own. Others had far more life-threatening injuries.

Still, after emergency veterinary care and extensive rehabilitation, all but one of these ducks recovered, and are now living out the rest of their lives in new, loving homes.

Felony Charges Dropped against Animal Rescuers after Foie Gras Court Battle!

30 November 2004

Liberty, N.Y.—On 30 November 2004, felony burglary charges were dropped against animal advocates Sarahjane Blum and Ryan Shapiro. Their court battle stemmed from the undercover investigation of the Hudson Valley Foie Gras factory farm and the rescue of injured and suffering ducks from the farm by the animal protection group Blum and Shapiro were each facing up to seven years in prison for their role in the investigation and rescue. Read more »