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Activists press for end to raising of sacrificial pigs

TAIPEI -- Animal rights activists Tuesday called for an end to contests to raise the biggest pigs at a dozen temples in Taiwan, in which the animals are force-fed and then killed as a sacrifice, a religious ritual common during Ghost Month, one of Taiwan's biggest annual festivals.

The Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan said that only 12 temples in Taiwan continue to hold such contests.

Two of the biggest are a temple in Sanxia District of New Taipei that honors the Taoist deity Qingshui Zushi (清水祖師), while the other, in northern Taiwan's Tamsui District, honors Baosheng Dadi (保生大帝), the Chinese god of medicine.

The pigs are kept in confinement and force-fed for two to three years until they grow to weigh up to 960 kilograms. This brutal treatment causes some of them to develop heart disease and limb deformity.

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