W5 undercover investigation reveals disturbing and inhumane treatment of animals

This week, W5’s Tom Kennedy heads to a Manitoba hog farm, reporting on a hidden camera investigation that gives viewers a disturbing, inside glimpse into the practices that can be found at many factory farms which produce much of the meat that ends up on Canadians’ dinner tables.

“Food For Thought” premieres Saturday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. ET on CTV. Also in this episode, W5 takes viewers on the awe-inspiring journey of 31-year-old Spencer West, as the motivational speaker and double-amputee embarks on the most daunting challenge of his life to climb the highest mountain in Africa in “Reach For the Top”.
Currently enjoying a record-breaking season, last week’s W5 “Vegas Girls” was the top-rated primetime program of the night on any network. The double-header featuring Canadian celebrities Céline Dion and Shania Twain earned the series nearly 1 million viewers (992,000). W5 remains North America’s longest-running and Canada’s most-respected investigative series

This week in “Food For Thought”, W5’s hidden-cameras take viewers inside one rural Manitoba pig farm and shows shocking conditions found there. The undercover investigation was undertaken by the Canadian branch of the animal rights organization Mercy for Animals, which has been campaigning for years to expose inhumane practices faced by many farmed animals. The organization approached W5 with the disturbing footage taken at the factory farm to expose what Mercy for Animals claims are appalling conditions that pigs live in, but which are widely regarded as standard industry practices and fully within the law.

Seen on the video are pregnant sows in row upon row of gestation crates, where they spend almost their entire lives. There are scenes of unhygienic conditions, mistreatment of hogs and thumping – a process whereby piglets are killed by slamming them against a wall or floor. Canada is the world’s third largest pork exporter and the industry is worth approximately $3-billion a year.

Expert opinions sought by Mercy for Animals and independently confirmed by W5 concluded that the video shows “evidence of abuse and neglect” and “conditions and treatment (that are) entirely inhumane.”

In “Reach for the Top”, CTV News’ Avis Favaro introduces viewers to Spencer West as he prepares for the biggest challenge of his life: climbing Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro on his hands. Born 31 years ago with part of his spine missing, a condition called “sacral ageneisis”, doctors suggested to West’s parents he would probably lead a sedentary life, unlikely living past his 12th birthday. Instead they took the radical decision to amputate both of his immobile legs and changed his life for the better, as he was free to navigate the world on his hands.

With his message that anything is possible, West has become a sought-after motivational speaker and has raised funds for schools and to provide clean water in Africa. His work with the Canadian agency Free The Children gave his life purpose, ultimately leading to a fundraising mission to climb Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro. But West, who has spent his life overcoming obstacles, had to ask himself: can a man who lost both his legs as a child physically endure a seven-day climb to the top of a 5,895 meter-high mountain?

W5 can also be seen on CTV Sundays at 5 p.m. (1 p.m. in Atlantic Canada), Investigation Discovery on Tuesdays at 11 p.m. ET, and Wednesdays at 3 a.m. ET, 6 a.m. ET and 12 noon ET; and on demand at CTVNews.ca/W5, the CTV Mobile channel on Bell Mobile TV, and through video on demand partners, such as Bell Fibe TV (visit CTV.ca for local listings).

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