Children in Rome set up shrine to wild boar killed by police in playground

Nick Squires
·2 min read
Wild boar are a relatively common sight in towns and cities in Italy - Giornale Di Sicilia
Wild boar are a relatively common sight in towns and cities in Italy - Giornale Di Sicilia

Children in Rome have set up a makeshift shrine to a female wild boar and her six piglets which were killed by police marksmen in a playground near the Vatican.

Local children had taken delight in watching and feeding the animals after they appeared in and around the playground last week but the authorities deemed them a danger to people’s safety.

The killing of the wild boar, which upset many local residents, has caused a political row in the Italian capital, with Virginia Raggi, the mayor, launching an investigation.

Children have lit candles and placed bunches of flowers on the fence surrounding the playground.

Hand-painted messages have been put up, including one which read “Seven innocents massacred”.

The boar were shot on Friday by police marksmen who arrived at the Mario Moderni playground, not far from St Peter’s Basilica.

The pigs were first shot with tranquiliser darts and then given lethal injections before being carted off to be incinerated.

A farmers' association estimates there are now two million wild boar in Italy - iStockphoto
A farmers' association estimates there are now two million wild boar in Italy - iStockphoto

Animal rights groups had wanted them to be captured in traps and then resettled in an animal sanctuary. Michela Brambilla, an MP with the centre-Right Forza Italia party, denounced what she described as a “cold-blooded killing”.

Officials from Rome, the regional government of Lazio and animal welfare groups are trading accusations of blame for the debacle.

City authorities said the boars had to be killed because there were no traps available with which to capture them.

Boars are a common sight in many parts of Rome, where they feed on overflowing rubbish from wheelie bins.

While the piglets are undeniably cute, experts warn that the adults can be dangerous, particularly if they feel threatened.

The animals are also dangerous when they wander across roads and are blamed for hundreds of traffic accidents across Italy each year.

Earlier this month, two young men died when their car smashed into a herd of boar on a motorway near Genoa in the northwest.

Wild boar breed prolifically and there are now around two million of them in Italy, according to Coldiretti, a national farmers’ association.

While boar in the cities feast on uncollected rubbish, in the countryside they have taken advantage of a lack of predators and the abandonment of large tracts of agricultural land as a result of rural depopulation.

A survey found that 81 per cent of Italians believe boar should be culled more aggressively, Coldiretti said.