This was a good year for animal rights – here are 11 of the biggest wins

Brands, governments and individuals have made strides towards a cruelty-free world

Elisa Allen
Sunday 30 December 2018 16:33 GMT
Lucy's Law will go some way to protecting puppies and kittens
Lucy's Law will go some way to protecting puppies and kittens

The animal rights movement has momentum on its side: year after year, we achieve positive changes for animals, and 2018 was no exception. From brands going cruelty-free and designers dropping fur in droves to laws protecting animals from being confined to tiny tanks, boiled alive, or sold like merchandise, here are some of the year’s most exciting victories for animals.

New Zealand took action to save sheep’s skins

A new law in New Zealand banned “mulesing” – a barbaric procedure in which wool farmers carve huge chunks of skin and flesh from lambs’ backsides without using any painkillers. It’s done in a crude attempt to prevent flies from laying eggs in the animals’ skin, but ironically, the bloody wounds left by mulesing often become infected or attract flies anyway. New Zealand’s ban amps up the pressure on Australia to keep a decade-old promise to move its wool industry away from mulesing.

More nails were hammered into the fur industry’s coffin

Fur isn’t just dead – it’s buried. Fashion industry giants Burberry, Versace, and Jean Paul Gaultier all ditched fur this year.

London Fashion Week was fur-free, San Francisco voted to ban fur sales, and at a UK parliamentary debate in June, MPs across the political spectrum expressed support for banning fur imports into Britain.

Orca suffering was struck off the itinerary

Following intensive campaigning, UK travel giant Thomas Cook cut the financial benefit it was giving SeaWorld when it agreed to stop selling tickets to the notorious marine amusement (or “abusement”, should we say) park and any other park that holds orcas captive for human entertainment. The move paves the way for all other travel providers to follow suit.

Switzerland liberates lobsters

Acknowledging that lobsters feel pain, Switzerland became the first country to ban boiling these sensitive, intelligent animals alive – a practice that was described as “unnecessary torture” by a researcher in Science journal.

More than 300 brands said ‘no more’ to mohair

Arcadia Group (which owns Topshop), H&M Group, Inditex’s apparel brands (including Zara), Marks & Spencer, and hundreds of other brands banned mohair after a Peta Asia investigation revealed rampant abuse in the industry.

Workers dragged, roughly handled, threw around, mutilated, and even cut the throats of fully conscious goats in South Africa, the world’s top mohair producer. Online retailer Asos banned not only mohair but also cashmere, feathers and silk, in line with its policy that “it is not acceptable for animals to suffer in the name of fashion or cosmetics”.

Canada’s senate ended whale and dolphin captivity

Recognising the cruelty inherent in confining large, intelligent marine mammals to tiny concrete tanks, the Canadian Senate passed a bill to outlaw keeping cetaceans in captivity.

MPs from all parties supported the proposed ban on breeding whales and dolphins and importing these animals or their sperm, tissue cultures or embryos.

Dove, one of the world’s most widely available personal-care product brands, banned all tests on animals anywhere in the world, earning it a spot on the Peta US Beauty Without Bunnies cruelty-free companies list.

Puppy and kitten farming took a blow

The passage of “Lucy’s Law” in the UK will ban the sale of puppies and kittens by pet shops, online dealers and other third-party sellers.

Animals sold through these outlets often come from mass-breeding mills, where females are forced to spend their lives in filthy cages, churning out litter after litter, until their bodies wear out. Of course, all breeding contributes to the animal-overpopulation crisis, so adopting animals from shelters (instead of buying them from breeders) is still the best choice.

Elephant polo has been relegated to the history books

Peta Asia’s shocking exposé showing elephants being viciously beaten for Thailand’s King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament prompted a dozen horrified sponsors to revoke their support.

Following this, the Thailand Elephant Polo Association announced that it wouldn’t seek to hold another tournament and has ceased operations – effectively marking the end of elephant polo in Thailand.

California goes cruelty-free

California became the first US state to ban the sale of cosmetics tested on animals by passing the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act, which makes it illegal for cosmetics manufacturers to import or sell any cosmetics there if the final product or any of its components was tested on animals after 1 January 2020. This precedent-setting law will surely inspire other states to introduce similar legislation.

The vegan revolution was in full swing

Brits’ appetite for humane, healthy fare is bigger than ever. One third of us are now vegan or vegetarian or have cut back on our meat consumption.

That’s great news for our health, the environment, and, of course, animals: every vegan saves nearly 200 animals a year.

Elisa Allen is the director of Peta UK

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