The Danish military uses live pigs to deliberately wound and operate on when providing training for their field surgeons, sparking hefty criticism from animal rights groups.
The practice allegedly occurs in the Zealand military camp Jægersprislejren, where stunned pigs are strung up and shot at by soldiers who deliberately try to only wound the animals. After they have been shot, the pigs are operated on by military surgeons, before being taken away and destroyed.
Operation Danish Bacon
And it’s not just the Danish soldiers who sharpen their skills using live pigs at Jægersprislejren. The British wing of the animal welfare organisation, PETA UK, has lamented that British soldiers periodically come to Denmark to train using the live pigs in exercises they refer to as ‘Operation Danish Bacon’.
“The Ministry of Defence’s decision to ship out members of the armed forces for these deadly and cruel exercises in Denmark – which would be illegal if conducted in the UK – is impossible to justify medically, ethically or educationally,” Mimi Bekhechi, the associate director of PETA UK, told British tabloid The Daily Mirror.
But being able to train on live pigs that have sustained wounds that mimic real-life situations in the field is invaluable, according to Peter Tolderlund, the education head of the Danish Military’s health service, Forsvarets Sundhedstjeneste.
“To be able to administer first aid properly you must create realistic scenarios. We must learn how to handle a gun-shot wound and live tissue is the best for doing so,” Tolderlund told metroXpress newspaper.
Learn specialist treatment
The Danish military train with the pigs between five and six times a year, while the British military visits twice a year, yielding total casualties of up to 30 pigs.
“The pigs are stunned and the veterinarian checks their reflexes before and during the process and makes sure that the pig never feels a thing,” Tolderlund said.
The British Ministry of Defence echoed their Danish peers, stating that the training was vital to their military surgeons, who learn specialist trauma treatment skills that save human lives on the front.
“All animals used in medical training are anaesthetised before they are treated, and by participating in the Danish-led exercises twice a year rather than conducting our own, we minimise the overall number of animals used,” a British Ministry of Defence spokesperson told The Daily Mirror.