A man who says he kept a wild pig as a pet after finding it covered in dog bites pleaded not guilty yesterday to mistreating the animal.
Shing Wing-biu denied cruelty to the boar he calls "Little Tommy" but pleaded guilty to failing to report an animal bite, after the boar bit a human.
Shing, 63, was arrested in November after being seen allegedly walking the animal on a chain along the Sai Kung waterfront.
In Kwun Tong Court yesterday, he denied he had ever used violence against the animal except occasionally patting or lightly kicking it, which his lawyer argued did not amount to cruelty.
The boar has been in police custody under the responsibility of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department since Shing's arrest on November 17 last year.
A spokeswoman for the department said Shing had not seen the pig since then.
The prosecution said that on that same day the pig was found to have bitten a passer-by, who suffered minor abrasions. The victim did not pursue the issue after receiving an apology from Shing on the spot and police were not notified.
Principal Magistrate Ernest Lin Kam-hung adjourned the case to June 11 for hearing of the cruelty charge.
Animal rights activists from the Hong Kong Wild Boar Concern Group - which has been in touch with Shing on how to ensure the wild boar's welfare - also attended court yesterday.
The group, formed last November after its members were alarmed by a wild boar cull in Tai Wai by a government contractor, said the department should conduct thorough medical examinations and location studies if it planned to release Little Tommy into the wild.
The group's director, Roni Wong, said that Little Tommy should be released back where he was originally found and the department should give a public explanation if it planned to release him anywhere else.
Wong added that a tracking device should be put on the boar before it was released so that the government could gauge whether the decision to set him free had been a success.