These are all the good things that happened for animals in 2017

It has been a landmark year for animal rights across the globe

Elisa Allen
Saturday 30 December 2017 13:23
France has banned swimming with dolphins, and put in place new regulations to protect marine wildlife
France has banned swimming with dolphins, and put in place new regulations to protect marine wildlife

Anyone who picked up a newspaper this year can’t have failed to notice that when it comes to animal rights, the times are a-changin’. Slowly but surely, policymakers, industry leaders and the general public are waking up to the view that animals are not things to be exploited but sentient beings who deserve to have their own rights and protections. With this in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the 2017 highlights for animals from around the world.

Luxury labels went fur-free

One of the most frequently used words in fashion this year was “vegan” – as luxury labels are realising that kindness sells and that most stylish people wouldn’t be caught dead in real fur. In 2017, some of the fashion industry’s biggest players – including Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, and the “world’s coolest brand, Gucci – parted ways with fur. With so many innovative, cruelty-free materials now available, the list of fur-free brands is only set to grow in 2018.

Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Romania and Guatemala banned wild animal circuses

Many countries around the world are banning wild animal acts because they now recognise them for what they are: cruel. Let’s hope England – a nation of proud animal lovers – finally follows suit in 2018.

CCTV was made mandatory in British abattoirs

It’s easy to lose count of the number of eyewitness investigations that have shown animals in abattoirs being punched, sexually molested, burned with cigarettes, and otherwise assaulted before being killed. Under new rules, CCTV will be mandatory in abattoirs in the UK – a good first step to prevent the very worst cases of abuse. It’s worth noting, though, that this won’t stop the terror and routine harm that animals endure in the inherently cruel process of industrialised meat production.

Tesla switched to animal and environmentally friendly vegan leather interiors

Tesla’s electric cars are known for being environmentally friendly, but the brand stepped it up a gear by switching to vegan seats across all its models this year. That’s great news for cows, who – as exposed by PETAare routinely branded on the face with hot irons, kicked, yanked by their tails, and forced to live with painful infections before they’re stunned, hung upside down, skinned, and bled to death just to make a seat cushion or steering wheel cover. It’s also great news for the planet, since a staggering 51 per cent or more of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture.

India banned certain fur and exotic-skin imports

In a landmark decision that will spare the lives of tens of thousands of animals, lawmakers in India banned the importation of reptile skins as well as chinchilla, mink, and fox fur. It’s another nail in the coffin for the grim animal skin industry, in which snakes are often nailed to trees and skinned alive and raccoons and foxes are routinely anally electrocuted.

Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus took down its big tops – for good

When it comes to protecting animals, persistence pays off – and after 36 years of PETA US protests, North America’s longest-running circus closed for good following years of plummeting attendances. The circus had been documented beating animals and otherwise abusing them, including a four-year-old elephant named Benjamin, who drowned while swimming in a pond after a trainer began tormenting him with a bullhook, and a lion named Clyde, who baked to death in a trailer. It’s never been clearer that the public doesn’t want to see animals being abused for entertainment.

France banned breeding of captive dolphins

New rules introduced in France this year mean future generations of orcas and other dolphins won’t have to face a lifetime of confinement to a tiny concrete tank, deprived of everything that’s natural and important to them. The rules also ban direct contact between the public and orcas and other dolphins, putting an end to “swimming with dolphins” attractions, which cause these sensitive and intelligent animals great stress.

New Orleans woman saves more than 100 shelter animals from Hurricane Harvey

US Coast Guard stopped live trauma training

The US Coast Guard has become the first branch of the US military to suspend the shooting, stabbing and killing of animals in trauma training drills. With advances in human simulators and other humane training methods, there’s simply no excuse for this archaic abuse of animals.

Gajraj the elephant was freed after 50 years of abuse

After being chained near popular tourist spots in India for more than 50 years – and after 200,000 supporters of PETA India and its affiliates called for his release – Gajraj the elephant was finally freed this year. He’s been moved to safety at the Elephant Conservation and Care Center, where he can walk freely, bathe in pools, enjoy the company of other elephants, and heal from his physical and emotional wounds.

Charges were dismissed in Canada’s ‘Pig Trial’

In a case that made headlines around the world, a Canadian court dismissed charges against Anita Krajnc – who was charged with criminal mischief for giving water to dehydrated, slaughter-bound pigs on a sweltering day. Speaking after the trial – which had become a rallying call for animal advocates everywhere – Anita said, “I’m relieved that the judge recognises that compassion is not a crime, that compassion should never be illegal. But he did say that pigs under Canadian law are considered property …. So I think we have a lot of work to do still.” And indeed we do.

Elisa Allen is the Director of PETA UK

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