World Animal Day 2017
World Animal Day 2017

World Animal Day 2017

Posted by Phoebe Codling on 4th Oct 2017 8 mins

“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated”

– Mahatma Gandhi

The 4th of October brings us World Animal Day – a day established in order to raise awareness about animal welfare and its significance all around the world. World Animal Day was founded almost a hundred years ago, by animal protection activist and writer, Heinrich Zimmermann. The original day was launched in March 1925, with official recognition and global status finally recognised in October 1931. The planned date, the 4th of October, was not accidental, as it was designed to coincide with the Saint Day of Francis of Assisi. Saint Francis was the patron saint of ecology and animals, and was rumoured to be able to talk to animals. And so World Animal Day began…but what’s it all about really? The official mission statement of World Animal Day is as follows:

'To raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe. Building the celebration of World Animal Day unites the animal welfare movement, mobilising it into a global force to make the world a better place for all animals. It's celebrated in different ways in every country, irrespective of nationality, religion, faith or political ideology. Through increased awareness and education we can create a world where animals are always recognised as sentient beings and full regard is always paid to their welfare.'

Sounds like the perfect day for us to celebrate here at The Great Projects, doesn’t it? For us, the importance of responsible tourism, animal welfare, and conservation is a no-brainer. However, not everyone has the same idea, with animal rights and welfare still a huge global issue. When considering animal welfare and their rights, many people automatically think of endangered species and larger, exotic animals such as elephants and tigers. Many people do not realise that animal welfare is a huge issue closer to home, with subjects such as animal testing, puppy farming, badger baiting and beauty product testing a serious reality. It’s easy to forget that animal welfare is still an issue in the UK, despite being considered a ‘civilised’ country.

Whilst UK animal welfare laws are considered to be the strictest in the world, the UK still firmly remains within the top 10 countries that conduct animal testing. During 2015, Great Britain undertook over four million experiments on animals, with 50% of those experiments relating to ‘the creation or breeding of genetically altered animals’. Whilst the use of animals in scientific experiments can be hotly debated, one of the main issues is that a large proportion of these experiments can be easily avoided, as only 13% of the research carried out in 2015 was actually required by regulators. Many of the trials carried out are essentially for curiosity – is this ethical?

The harsh truth is that animal testing is almost certainly here to stay for the foreseeable future – but should the law be reviewed? We know for certain that animals are different to humans in countless ways, and many examples of what is toxic to us, isn’t necessarily the same for animals. A prime example is chocolate – toxic to dogs, but not for humans. On a similar note, aspirin is toxic to rats and mice, but again, not to humans. If it had been tested using today’s experiments and current standards, it would not be available. Further to this, cosmetic testing on animals is still a major issue; though luckily this practice is banned in both the UK & European Union. However, in the US and China it is still regarded as acceptable, so if you’re buying cosmetics online or abroad, make sure you know which brands DO test on animals. You’ll most likely be surprised by how many companies are on this list. The cosmetics retailer, Lush, are strictly against animal testing in any shape or form, and are a great company to use if you’re an advocate of cruelty free. Plus their stores smell deliciousss!

As always, everyone has differing opinions and some people might agree wholeheartedly with animal testing. However, if you’re one of many that don’t, then don’t hesitate to speak your mind. Boycott companies that test on animals, go Cruelty Free, sign petitions, and write to your local MP. Don’t underestimate the power you have as a consumer, even against big corporations. And finally, as always, spread the word and educate others where you can!

Moving on from animal testing, there is another huge animal welfare issue in the UK to contend with – puppy farming. This has become prevalent in the past year as news outlets have begun exposing these farms across the UK. Puppy farms are essentially a commercial enterprise ran to make a large profit from breeding puppies illegally. Usually, dog breeders register with their local authority and then breed puppies under strict guidelines. They are inspected regularly, so all the animals in their care are well looked after and healthy. Illegal puppy ‘farmers’ are the opposite – breeding puppies with no care, love or consideration. They aim to produce as many puppies as possible for the minimum amount of money, by exceeding the limit of the absolute maximum six litters per bitch as instructed and separating the puppies from their mothers far too early. These ‘farmers’ make a hefty profit at the expense of these beautiful animals, which are usually born into unclean and sub-par conditions. The puppies are often born poorly, riddled with infections and parasites, and are very rarely immunised or wormed. Almost half a million farmed pups are sold in the UK annually, and despite its illegality, numbers are staying put. So what can we do? Firstly, learn how to spot a puppy farm. Always do your research if you’re planning to buy a puppy, and make sure you see the pup with its mother and littermates. Using your instinct is important, and if you believe that you’re viewing a puppy from an illegal farm, do not hesitate to contact the RSPCA. And as always, spread the word, sign petitions and fundraise if you can!

Now, the next topic within this article is something that most people are familiar with, as it faces all of us every time we nip into the local shop. Eggs. Whilst battery farming has been banned for a while in the UK, in the US a staggering 95% of the eggs sold are produced using this method. It is important to remember that if you’re buying products that contain eggs made in the US, they will almost certainly be from battery hens. However, in the UK, whilst battery cages are banned, cages in general are not. ‘Enriched cages’ have been used for the past five years as an alternative. In simple terms, hens supposedly have more room to do four things; nest, roost, scratch and stretch. But is this enough? As a nation we eat, wait for it, 34.5 million eggs every single day! That’s 12.6 billion eggs annually. It’s safe to say we’re a nation of egg lovers, right? But whilst we’re tucking into our dippy eggs and soldiers, our hens are still suffering. 50% of the eggs we eat are free-range, but that isn’t enough. The so-called enriched cages are barely any better than the traditional cages, still offering little space for hens to truly be comfortable and satisfy their behavioural requirements. This article by the RSPCA really sheds light on the issue. The costs of running enriched cages and free-range/barn habitats are comparable, and whilst the costs of eggs would most likely increase, it would be a minor amount (around 30 pence more), and a small price to pay for the welfare of these animals.

Now, if you’ve been persuaded by my rambling (and I really hope you have!), there are some really simple steps you can take. Firstly, always buy free-range eggs, preferably locally. If you’re dining in a restaurant, ask if they use free-range eggs, too. A recent petition by Lucy Gavaghan from Sheffield, received over a quarter of a million signatures and she succeeded in persuading Tesco to stop selling eggs from caged hens, and they have agreed to do so by 2025, essentially halting 500 million caged eggs being sold each year. Whilst this is a while to wait, progress is progress. Marks and Spencer, Sainbury’s, Waitrose and Co-Op haven’t sold caged eggs for several years, with M&S leading the way since 1997! Finally (phew, take a deep breath!), please share your views with other people and encourage them to make a change. Companies are nothing without a consumer, so remember: you have the power!


“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I started with a Gandhi quote, so I thought I’d end with one, too! Fitting, don’t you think? That was a long one, so thanks for reading to the end guys! I do hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article, as World Animal Day is about inspiring and informing change with regard to animal welfare, and ‘each and every one of us can make a difference for animals’. Hopefully I’ve persuaded some of you to look into the products you’re buying more closely. We’re lucky to live in a society where getting access to cruelty free products is a doddle now, so I hope you’ll follow suit and inspire others where you can. Our world is a beautiful place, so let’s make it fairer for all the animals that we’re so lucky to share it with.

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