Pigs crowded together at slaughterhouse before slaughter. Mediadrumimages/NPL/Jo-AnneMcArthur

By Alex Jones


HORRIFYING photos show the disgusting conditions inside a Thai slaughterhouse – where pigs are CLUBBED to death and butchered in front of their offspring.

Gruesome photos depict a pig dying of its injuries in a pool of blood; a sow screaming as a slaughterhouse worker swings down with a wooden club with all his might; and women cleaning entrails, just inches away from hundreds of pigs lined up for slaughter.

Another sobering shot shows a pig slumped on his front trotters, an expression of angst and misery etched on his face.

Pig heads in slaugherhouse. Thailand. Mediadrumimages/NPL/Jo-AnneMcArthur

The sickening shots were captured by Jo-Anne McArthur, 43, the founder of We Animals Media, which is dedicated to ending animal cruelty via storytelling and journalism.

She spent several hours exploring the Thai slaughterhouse, located just a few hours from Bangkok, after being invited to look around the abattoir.

“I wasn’t the first to be welcomed here; the owner of the facility thinks it’s important for people to see the process of slaughter and once welcomed a group of veterinary students to spend a morning here too.  He said that many of them vomited,” McArthur said.

A stressed pig with wounds in a holding area at a Thai slaughterhouse. Mediadrumimages/NPL/Jo-AnneMcArthur

“On this particular day, I was welcomed and escorted through the slaughterhouse doors with an invitation to spend the morning taking photos. I explored the circuit; the holding pens, the kill floor, and the area where the animals are gutted, dismembered and packed into trucks.”

McArthur quietly documented truckload after truckload of terrified pigs cajoled from a long rank of vehicles using iron nails and electric prods to coerce the animals into pens. Along the journey and at the slaughterhouse, the terrified pigs kick, scratch, and bite one another in a bid for the smallest amount of space as the smell of blood and adrenaline filled the air.

“When the pigs were hosed down they huddled together, their backs turned to the slaughter room across the floor,” continued McArthur.

Pig dying in a pool of blood and water at a slaughterhouse. Mediadrumimages/NPL/Jo-AnneMcArthur

“Some screamed. Others seemed mute and immobile. Others shook. Many tried to escape when they were prodded or dragged soaking wet to the kill floor. Fear is recognizable across most species, and with the pigs here, it is undeniably palpable.”

The worst was yet to come.

The ardent photojournalist documented as pigs were struck repeatedly with huge, wooden clubs before a knife was sliced into their throat and their sternums split open. The goal of the clubbing is to humanely stun the animals before slaughter, but pigs have thick skulls and the stunning was more often than not futile, succeeding only in knocking the pigs to their knees and further terrifying them.

A pig is clubbed before having their neck slit at slaughter. Mediadrumimages/NPL/Jo-AnneMcArthur

“Amid the chaos, pigs were left to bleed out for a minute or so in groups before another worker would jam a hook into their leg and then heave the animal into a vat of boiling water,” added a solemn McArthur.

“The men would then set to scraping the pigs clean of hair, using sharp knives in a shaving motion, then deftly severing their heads and hooves. While men did the slaughtering and butchering, it was Burmese women in the back rooms who emptied and cleaned the pig intestines and organs.”

By the end of McArthur’s visit to the slaughterhouse, she left properly splattered with blood.

Men butchering pig carcasses at an outdoor market. Mediadrumimages/NPL/Jo-AnneMcArthur

“Everyone asks how I can handle bearing witness to so much violence,” she said.

“It is brutal but I find catharsis in action. When I started out fifteen years ago, it would have been near impossible to get these images seen but now millions of people have seen my story. I truly believe we’re amid a global rise of engagement in animal journalism, a collective seeing.

“Photographs lead people to change, and the momentum for hope of a different story for animals is what keeps me grounded.”