The pig whisperer
The Australian Vegan Magazine | ISSUE 4 – Sept/Oct 2017
Memories of a father hunting down innocent animals as a hobby and a night spent in sacred connection with a sow on the eve of her death have been elements in Federica Trivelli’s journey to become a devoted vegan and animal rights/environmental activist.
Now 44 years of age and living in Vigone, Turin, in northern Italy, “Fedy” as she is known, is on a passionate mission for the animal and environmental cause.
Having visited factories, dairy farms and slaughterhouses in Italy, the UK and the USA, Fedy wants to spread her message and raise awareness worldwide about the injustice, cruelty, abuse, fear and pain that she has witnessed first-hand.
Living and working over 12 hour days in a pig shelter known as La Piccola Fattoria degli Animali (The Little Animal Farm), Fedy is faced with a reality that time and limited space are against her.
Running out of room and funds, the woman known as The Pig Whisperer has reached out across the globe in her mission to create a much larger sanctuary which would help to save many other animals.
At the tender age of just 17, Fedy escaped from a father who had always been a passionate hunter. “I flew to London, I was by myself, and with a big dream in my heart: the creation of a huge animal sanctuary where lots of animals would live in peace, serenity, freedom; far away from death, violence and exploitation,” she recalls.
“I wanted to get in touch with some English animal rights activists and do something that would help the animals. I had the opportunity to meet activist groups, join animal rights activities and demonstrations, and visit dairy farms and slaughterhouses.”
With her eyes opened wide to the horrors and realities of these industries, Fedy knew exactly which direction her life was going in. “When I turned 18, again by myself, I went to the United States, in search of new life experiences as a human being and an activist,” she says.
“I had the great opportunity to meet some very determined American animal rights and environmental activists. We were united, motivated and passionate. We visited dairy farms and slaughterhouses to bring to light the horror of hidden crimes inside those places of death, misery and terror.”
It was during this time that Fedy experienced something that shook her to the core. “One summer night, in California, inside a factory farm, I had a deep and sacred connection with a traumatised sow trapped in a tiny cage. She was not able to move or stand up and was to be slaughtered the day after,” she says.
“I truly felt her agony, terror, misery, pain; I could feel her emotions as if they were mine. I felt empathy and it was an encounter of souls.”
“That night, I realised that something had changed in my life, and I made my lifetime promise to that sow. I promised her I would do my very best to help the pigs.”
The cruelty and injustice has stayed with her ever since, and in fact, she says she still has nightmares about some of the atrocities she has seen, but she uses this to help her remain steadfast to the cause.
“Pigs are amazing living creatures. They are intelligent, clean - they use mud as a sort of sunscreen and protection from insect bites - and they are funny.”
“They possess a big sense of family and are sweet and sensitive, and deserve to be helped. There is no reason why they should be treated the way farmers and butchers treat them.”
At the end of 1998, Fedy decided to continue her animal rights activism
permanently back in Italy, where she joined other animal rights activists and again visited dairy farms and slaughterhouses.
“Every time I visited one of those places I wondered if God will ever forgive us for what we have done to each other and to animals,” Fedy says.
“But then I look up in the sky, I see the sun, the flowers, the mountains, the children, the animals and so I repeat to myself, that as long as I breathe, I must keep fighting like a lion for the mission, right till the end.”
In 2009, with the support of her then boyfriend, she founded a pig shelter in Piedmont called La Piccola Fattoria degli Animali (The Little Animal Farm), a peaceful place dedicated to pigs saved from death.
But sadly, as time went on, this passion came with a cost. “One day my boyfriend asked me to choose him or the cause. Life is made of choices and sacrifices. And all this is necessary to get goals,” she explains.
“With no hesitation I chose the mission, and in 2013, we split. I carried on the shelter by myself and with the help of some volunteers, I moved to another countryside house with all my animals and the dream in my heart: the creation of a huge sanctuary.”
In March 2015, BBC UK fell in love with the incredible stories of the rescue of the pigs, and dedicated a story to them. Fedy’s notoriety as the Pig Whisperer was spreading.
A year later, together with a group of trusted friends, Fedy founded a non-profit association. They called it La Vie en Rose Onlus (from a French idiom “voir la vie en rose”, that means “live life with positivity”), which Fedy says is her philosophy of life.
Because the shelter must always be attended, especially at night, Fedy lives on site with the animals.
Her mornings are spent at the shelter, and in the afternoons she works as a secretary at an engineering company to earn money to pay all the expenses for the animals which include pigs, cats and dogs - all saved from pain and death.
She also works full days on the weekends. “It is a lot of work, but it is not heavy at all, because I feel lots of passion and motivation for what I am doing,” she says.
Currently at the shelter there are 21 pigs, five dogs and seven cats. All the
animals were saved by animal activists.
The project is self-financed through Fedy’s wages and from donations received worldwide from people supporting her mission. But now she is faced with the reality that there is no space remaining and she cannot accept any other animals in need of rescue.
Her dream is to raise the funds to open a much larger sanctuary that will be dedicated mainly to pigs saved from factory farms, slaughterhouses and vivisection labs and to boars saved from hunting.
“[I want] to spread the message of empathy, love, peace, freedom, compassion, hope, respect, life. Values that people too often forget.
Children are watching us; they are the future of our world and we must give them the right messages,” Fedy says.
“And I wish, with no imposition, that people will understand that there is an alternative to meat consumption, which is not good at all for human health for cancer and heart disease. Meat is murder, injustice and climate change.”
Fedy says her hope is to make people aware that injustice, cruelty, abuse, fear, and pain are a reality inside dairy farms and slaughterhouses and that factory farms are one of the principal causes of climate change destroying our planet.
“I remain hopeful that once people have that information they will decide what direction to take in their own lives - reduce their quantity of meat, abolish it completely or do nothing.”
“But change is possible, it starts with us, and I do believe in change, otherwise I would not be doing what I am doing, with so much passion and determination.”
“I intend to stand up and fight for the animal cause right till my very last heartbeat, but in order to keep my promise to that sow and to the animals, if I want to keep carrying on the mission right till the end, I do need the support of powerful, strong, provocative and motivated sponsors.”
To reach out to Fedy, email the sanctuary at lapiccolafattoriadeglianimali
@yahoo.it or head to her Facebook page: facebook.com/PigWhisperer/.
By Lisa Blair
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