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Police probe radio station's boar slaughter

Was it live? Listeners thought so. Sounds during Bubba the Love Sponge's show appall animal rights activists.

By AMY HERDY

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 3, 2001


TAMPA -- Does castrating and then killing a boar as part of a radio publicity stunt constitute animal cruelty?

That's a question Tampa police are trying to answer after a broadcast by WXTB-FM 97.9 radio station Tuesday morning featured squeals and screams of a swine that led some viewers to believe the slaughter was happening during the live broadcast.

Although a wild boar was castrated and killed in the station's parking lot while radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge Clem was on the air, it was not broadcast, said attorneys for Clear Channel, WXTB's owner.

"Bubba the Love Sponge had some animal noises" that he played from the studio, said Brian Albritton of the Holland & Knight law firm. "He came out after the entire event was over."

Clem could not be reached.

Albritton said a hunter took the boar to the radio station as part of a "roadkill barbecue" promotion. The boar was restrained and castrated and its spinal cord was severed. "It was killed swiftly and instantly," he said.

But why castrated first?

"It's castrated first because often when the animal gets excited it gets a surge of testosterone and the testosterone spoils the meat," he said.

Not so, according to animal experts.

"The practice of castration to prevent the meat being tainted is done when they are young, not just before you slaughter," said Werner Bergen, a professor with Auburn University's Department of Animal and Dairy Science.

And the humane way of killing a pig, Bergen said, is to stun the animal first.

The incident appalled animal rights activists, who flooded the station, Police Department and State Attorney's Office with calls. Police are investigating whether the slaughter constitutes animal cruelty.

"I think it's the most unbelievable atrocity ever," said Shannon Franco of the SPCA of Lakeland. "The reason they did it was because they had a contest to eat the testicles."

Albritton said there was no such contest.

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