Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

Day of Action against Waitrose

Supporters of the animal charity Viva! will stage a photo call outside Waitrose supermarket.

Supporters of the animal charity Viva! will stage a photo call outside Waitrose supermarket, Finchley Road branch (opposite Finchley Road tube station) on FRIDAY, 26 February 1999, at 11am. They are campaigning against Waitrose - the last nationwide stockist of ostrich meat. Dressed as Waitrose managers they will have buckets marked 'sand' on their heads under the banner 'Waitrose - hiding from ostrich cruelty'.

This will provide the spark which will ignite a national 'Day of Action' by local activists of Viva! against Waitrose on SATURDAY, 27 February 1999. Viva! supporters will be outside stores dressed as Waitrose managers and ostriches. Thousands of leaflets will be handed out to shoppers spelling out the facts behind the neat Cellophane wrapping to highlight the plight of ostriches.

Sir Paul McCartney has joined Viva!'s battle to end the sale of 'exotic' meats in Britain. In a polite but strongly worded letter to Mr. David Felwick, Waitrose's chief executive, Sir Paul calls for the company to withdraw from the trade immediately. Other celebrity support includes Tony Benn MP, Joanna Lumley, Pam Ferris and Michael Mansfield QC.

Despite claims that ostriches are domesticated they are still wild animals, native to Africa where they live on vast grasslands and desert. They are not climatised to live on cold, wet Scottish ostrich farms where they are bred for meat.

Juliet Gellatley, Viva!'s Director says: "It is cruel and unnatural for these magnificent birds to be farmed. They are kept in paddocks where they are unable to shed rain from their feathers and they often die from pneumonia."

It is an industry riddled with welfare problems. The same abuse seen in broiler chickens is repeated in ostriches - rapid growth from high protein feed leading to poorly-formed bones and intense pain. The resulting stress and depression can cause birds to starve themselves to death. Ms Gellatley states: "Ostriches already have a higher death rate than any other farmed animal even before the 'industry' intensifies. As it does, things will get much worse."

Viva! began its successful campaign against 'exotic' meats three years ago and tackled each of the big chains one by one. The first to concede defeat in 1997 was Tesco, quickly followed by Booker Cash & Carry and Somerfield, who cancelled the launch of an entire frozen food range. In January this year, Asda instructed its London delicatessens to drop the meats.

Marks & Spencer, the Co-op and Safeway have always refused to stock 'exotic' meats, partly because of their serious concerns over animal welfare.

Earlier this month Sainsbury's stated it was to end all sales of kangaroo and ostrich meats. It came days after Viva! announced it was to hold a second day of action against the company under the slogan 'Sainsbury's don't give a XXXX for kangaroos.' Waitrose is now the last chain involved in the trade in wild animals and sells ostrich meat through one-third of its 115 stores.

Ms Gellatley concludes: "We are close to winning a victory for the world's wildlife. Our day of action against Waitrose will let them, and other supermarkets, know once and for all that the British public will not tolerate the butchery of wildlife for novelty meats."

 

Note to Editors

It was Juliet Gellatley to whom Sir Paul McCartney gave his first interview after the death of his wife Linda. It was reproduced around the world.

For further information or for Viva!'s detailed report of ostrich farming, Nowhere to Hide, contact: Juliet Gellatley, Kate Fowler or Lesley Jeavons on 0117 944 1000

For details of your local Viva! group, contact:Jo Lacey on 0117 944 1000