Heartbreaking film illustrates the need to end cosmetics testing on animals

Humane Society International / Global


Andy Gent
Andy Gent.

What happens when an all-star director, puppeteer, cast and crew join forces with a global leader in the animal protection movement? Meet Ralph, a stop-motion animated rabbit who is the new spokesbunny for Humane Society International’s fight to end animal testing for cosmetics.

Written and directed by Spencer Susser, Save Ralph is a docu-style short that tells the story of a rabbit who works as a “tester.” Released this spring in 5 languages, the film features the voices of Ricky Gervais, Taika Waititi, Zac Efron, Olivia Munn, George Lopez, Rosario Dawson and more.

Painful experiments have left Ralph blind in one eye and suffering from skin irritation and a constant buzzing in one ear, but he reassures the viewer that he’s just doing his job to ensure humans have safe shampoo. In this edited interview with HSI, puppeteer Andy Gent talks about bringing Ralph to life and how he hopes the heartbreaking character helps end cosmetics testing on animals around the world.

Why do you think using stop-motion animation helps tell Ralph’s story?
There’s a nice thing about animation in that it opens your eyes to many things without showing all the reality, but it’s a good communicator. And I think Ralph epitomizes that. He is very empathic, very emotive, and he’s trying to be really strong in the face of doom in his world. So, bringing that to life in the character, we’ve got to make sure that he can change his expressions, that he has the physicality, the structure in his body to move in a way that can act out and tell the story. Often with animation, just the eyes can be used as an acting device. You don’t need to move the rest of the puppet. So we spend a lot of time making those right. The beauty of stop-motion animation—I think the beauty of animation, full stop—is that you can tell very complicated, very challenging stories and bring them to life in a nonthreatening way that helps to educate and inspire people.

How did you create such intricate sets and characters?
When you watch and re-watch the film, hopefully you’ll see the attention that’s been paid to all the details. We created the wallpaper, the electrical sockets and the kitchen utensils, and we used real carpets. It took about five weeks to cover Ralph in fur (fake fur, of course), three weeks to do his eyes, one week for his teeth and his tongue, three weeks for his mechanical body, another two weeks for his head, and then weeks of set building to make every tiny element down to the curtains, the toothbrushes, the cookie jar absolutely perfect for Ralph. It’s an endless amount of work, and we’ve done it because that’s how we get the audience to believe that what they’re looking at truly is Ralph’s world. It was a genuine labor of love for us all. We all fell in love with Ralph and wanted to help HSI tell his story so that we can end animal testing for cosmetics.

How did you approach conveying the grim reality of Ralph’s situation while still making a film that people will want to watch?
We applied a lot of love and attention in showing the physical suffering of being used as a tester¬—the skin rashes, the scars and swollen red eye. Ralph is such a sweet character, he tries to downplay the awfulness of what is happening to him, but his injuries tell the true story and in a way that draws the audience in rather than makes them look away. Your heart breaks for him because when he’s trying to convince the audience that everything’s OK, he’s really trying to convince himself. Of course, it’s not OK. But stop-motion animation allows us to tell this tragic, upsetting truth about something awful and unjust in a way that recruits people to win this fight with us.

What’s been the most rewarding aspect of working on this project?
We’ve worked on this for months and months and months. We know the ins and outs of every single part of it all, but when you play the roll back, everybody’s welling up in tears at the end. So I think you can see from that there’s a personal investment in it. It’s not just about telling a story in a film or in advertising. People working on this have connected to it, and when we see it played back, we’ve stopped thinking of Ralph as a stop-motion animation puppet and instead as a character telling a story that makes you want to change things.

How do you hope people react to the film?
I hope they all take Ralph into their hearts in the same way that we all have and get involved, because he really needs our help.

“I stopped eating animals about eight years ago, but I didn’t know how else I could help. When the opportunity to create a new campaign for HSI arrived, I thought it was the perfect way to give animals a voice. Save Ralph creates awareness that animals are still being tested on for cosmetics around the world. It’s a call to action to help end this horrendous practice for good. I hope it strikes a chord and moves people to do something about it.” — Spencer Susser, writer/director of Save Ralph

Humane Society International


Trevor Mogg/Alamy Stock photo

WASHINGTION—Earlier this week, the World Health Organization (WHO), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released a guidance urging governments around the world to take immediate action to reduce the risk of zoonotic disease spread in traditional markets.

Humane Society International urges governments to adopt the recommendations by WHO, OIE and UNEP to place emergency regulations suspending trade in live caught wild mammals and shutting down food markets selling these animals. Over a year ago, HSI pleaded to governments and released a science-based white paper calling for this type of action against wildlife markets and trade in wildlife. We congratulate WHO, OIE, and UNEP for taking this step towards ensuring safety for public and animal health. Concurrently, we urge the U.S. Congress to swiftly pass the Preventing Future Pandemics Act of 2021 as the most effective step toward ending the exploitation of wild animals and protecting global communities from future zoonotic diseases.

The guidance calls on governments to take the following six actions: (1) suspend trade in live caught wild mammals for food or breeding purposes and close food markets that sell live caught wild mammals (until effective regulations and risk assessments are in place); (2) improve standards of hygiene and sanitation in these markets; (3) develop regulations to control the risk of transmission of zoonotic diseases from wild animals in these markets; (4) train food and veterinary inspectors and enforce new regulations; (5) strengthen animal health surveillance systems to catch the emergence of a pathogen early on; and (6) develop and implement campaigns to communicate risk of consuming and trading wildlife.

“It’s imperative that all countries heed this call from the world’s health authority in order to prevent the emergence or spread of future pandemics,” said Teresa Telecky, vice president of Wildlife for Humane Society International. “If this had been done after SARS, we may have been spared the COVID pandemic and all the suffering it has caused.”

ENDS

Media contact: Wendy Higgins, director of international media: whiggins@hsi.org

Humane Society International / Mexico


HSI 

MEXICO CITY—Hacienda Santa Bárbara, an eco-hotel in Tlaxcala, Mexico, has committed to improving farm animal welfare by exclusively sourcing cage-free eggs for all of its menu items by the end of 2021.

Hacienda Santa Barbara is a hotel from the 17th century, which has been converted to an ecological destination, using only locally produced products to reduce its carbon footprint.

Javier Zamora, owner of Hacienda Santa Bárbara said: “We are committed to working with our suppliers to use eggs from cage-free birds. We started this project with a goal to provide our clients with the best quality food, and for us this means it must be sourced from producers who employ higher animal welfare  and more sustainable production methods.”

Arianna Torres, corporate policy and program manager for HSI/Mexico, said: “We congratulate La Hacienda Santa Bárbara for committing to offer only cage-free eggs on all its menus, joining the more than 200 companies worldwide that have already made this promise.”

The lives of countless farm animals improve when companies go cage-free. In Mexico, there are tens of thousands of egg-laying hens. The country’s conventional industrial production systems confine chickens for their entire lives in tiny cages made of wire, known as “battery cages.” These cages are so small that the chickens cannot even fully stretch their wings. Common sense and science agree that restraining animals for virtually their entire lives causes significant harm, depriving them of the opportunity to express important natural behavior.

ENDS

Media contacts: Laura Bravo, Mexico: 5554561476; laurabravocom@gmail.com

BC’s factory fur farms are a petri dish for global pandemics and must be banned, says HSI/Canada

Humane Society International / Canada


Raccoon dogs and foxes intensively farmed for fur in Asia, filmed November-December 2020.

MONTREAL—The World Health Organization has published its report, WHO-convened Global Study of the Origins of SARS-CoV-2, and identified fur farming as an area of interest in the search for the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. The joint WHO-China study suggests that wild animals intensively bred on farms for fur fashion and other purposes could have become infected at the farms and then been transported to a wildlife wet market where the outbreak began.

Market traders in China display, sell and butcher a variety of wild and domestic animal species including mink, raccoon dogs and foxes, which are known to be susceptible to SARS viruses. Millions of these animals are farmed for fur in China and other regions, including Canada.

The report states that introduction through an intermediary host is considered to be “likely to very likely” as a possible pathway of emergence. One of the specific recommendations in the report calls for surveys for SARSr-CoVs in farmed wildlife that have the potential to be infected, including “those bred for fur such as mink and raccoon dogs in farms in China, in South-East Asia, and in other regions.” The report further noted “SARS-CoV-2 adapts relatively rapidly in susceptible animals (such as mink). The increasing number of animals shown to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 includes animals that are farmed in sufficient densities to allow potential for enzootic circulation.”

In 2018 (the most recent year for which data is available), over 1.7 million mink and over 2300 foxes were killed on Canadian fur farms. To date, there have been two COVID-19 outbreaks on factory fur farms in Canada, both occurring at mink farms in British Columbia.

Kelly Butler, wildlife campaign manager at Humane Society International/Canada, said: “We are calling on the BC government to take immediate action to end factory fur farming in British Columbia. These facilities cause horrendous animal suffering and were opposed by the vast majority of people in BC before they were exposed as reservoirs for COVID-19. Countries the world over are closing their factory fur farms in response to the grave public health and animal welfare threats they present. There is simply no excuse for the BC government to turn a blind eye to these tangible threats and allow these inhumane, dangerous and economically nonviable fur factories to continue to operate.”

Dr Peter Li, China policy expert at Humane Society International, said: “The WHO report provides a stark and sobering warning about the devastating public health risks of exploiting wild animals in unsanitary, overcrowded and inhumane factory farm systems be that bamboo rats and badgers for human consumption, pangolins for traditional medicine, or raccoon dogs and mink for fur fashion. Cramming millions of animals together in these abusive industries creates a perfect petri dish for pandemics, and unless we ban farming for fur and the wildlife trade, we will continue to play Russian roulette with global public safety.”

Facts:

  • Outbreaks of COVID-19 have been documented on at least 422 mink fur farms in 11 different countries in Europe and North America since April 2020, including Canada (2 farms), Denmark (290 farms), France (1 farm), Greece (23 farms), Italy (2 farms), Lithuania (2 farms), Netherlands (69 farms), Poland (1 farm), Spain (4 farms), Sweden (13 farms) and the United States (16 farms).
  • The few fur farms operating in BC exist solely to produce fashion items. They provide negligible employment, damage local environments, pose a significant public health risk and consume millions of tax dollars in government handouts.
  • In 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, just under 270 000 mink were killed on fur farms in BC.
  • 85 percent of British Columbians oppose the killing of wild animals for fur (Research Co, 2020 ).
  • In 2014, a British Columbia fur farm was the subject of an investigation by the BC SPCA that uncovered deplorable conditions and egregious neglect and animal suffering. Many animals were missing limbs, digits and ears, and one animal—mysteriously paralyzed—had to be euthanized on site.
  • Numerous BC scientists have called on the BC government to take action on fur farming.

Download photos and video from the China fur farm investigation

ENDS

Media contact: Michael Bernard, deputy director of Humane Society International/Canada: mbernard@hsi.org; 613.371.5170

Rodrigo Santoro, Pom Klementieff, Maggie Q and other celebrities support Humane Society International’s campaign

Humane Society International


HSI Ralph, spokes-bunny for HSI’s global campaign to ban cosmetic testing on animals

WASHINGTON—Hollywood filmmakers and movie stars have joined forces with Humane Society International to produce a powerful stop-motion animated short film, Save Ralph, calling for an end to cosmetic testing on animals around the world. Although banned in 40 countries, the practice is still perfectly legal in most of the world, and even making a comeback in some regions, subjecting untold thousands of animals to needless suffering and death.

Taika Waititi, Ricky Gervais, Zac Efron, Olivia Munn, Pom Klementieff, Tricia Helfer and others have come together to help HSI change that by providing the voices for the Save Ralph film, which aims to shine a light on the suffering animals endure and engage consumers and policy makers in HSI’s mission to ban it. Writer and director Spencer Susser (Hesher, The Greatest Showman), producer Jeff Vespa (Voices of Parkland) and production company AllDayEveryDay teamed up with the Arch Model studio of puppet maker supreme Andy Gent on the production to bring Ralph to life. The film is also being launched in Portuguese, Spanish, French and Vietnamese with Rodrigo Santoro, Denis Villeneuve and others voicing the characters in those languages, and Maggie Q providing a video message of support.

Find the short film and educational materials on the current status of animal testing and how you can help at hsi.org/ralph

Jeffrey Flocken, Humane Society International’s president, says: “Save Ralph is a wake-up call that animals are still suffering for cosmetics, and now is the time for us to come together to ban it globally. Today we have an abundance of reliable, animal-free approaches for product safety assurance, so there’s no excuse for making animals like Ralph suffer to test cosmetics or their ingredients.”

The film features HSI’s campaign spokesbunny Ralph, voiced by Taika Waititi, being interviewed as he goes through his daily routine as a “tester” in a toxicology lab. HSI’s #SaveRalph campaign tackles the disturbing issue of animal testing in an original and unexpected way—using the story of one bunny to shine a light on the plight of countless rabbits and other animals suffering at this very moment in laboratories around the world. It engages viewers to help ban animal testing of cosmetics once and for all.

Save Ralph director, Spencer Susser says: “Animals in cosmetic testing labs don’t have a choice and it’s our responsibility to do something about it. When the opportunity came up to create a new campaign for Humane Society International, I felt that stop motion was the perfect way to deliver the message. When you see the horrifying reality of the way animals are treated, you can’t help but look away. What I was hoping to do with this film was create something that delivers a message without being too heavy handed. I hope that audiences fall in love with Ralph and want to fight for him and other animals like him, so we can ban animal testing once and for all.” 

Puppet master and set designer, Andy Gent says:I think the beauty of animation is that you can tell very complex stories and bring them to life in a non-threatening and educational way. In our miniature world of models and puppets using stop motion filmmaking we hope to bring attention to this mission to stop animal testing for cosmetics. We’re all very passionate about what we do, and it’d be very nice to think that this project to Save Ralph will have a greater, wider effect.” 

Taika Waititi tweeted ahead of the launch: “This is a cool thing that is coming soon. If you don’t watch it and love it then you hate animals and we can’t be friends anymore. #SaveRalph.”

Ricky Gervais says: “Animal testing just makes me angry. There’s no justification for dripping chemicals in rabbits’ eyes or force-feeding them to rats just to make lipsticks and shampoo. Science has evolved enough to give us non-animal solutions to end this terrible cruelty—it’s time for our humanity to catch up.”

Tricia Helfer says: “I have been an animal lover for many years so I am honoured to lend my voice to this important, moving HSI campaign to end the cruelty of animal testing for cosmetics. Although we have made progress in some countries, globally there are still thousands of innocent animals just like Ralph who are made to suffer every day. Now is the time to change that.”

Troy Seidle, HSI’s vice president for research and toxicology, says: “It’s easy to assume that companies are the problem, but the truth is they are a vital part of the solution. It’s laws that need to be changed, and industry leaders like Lush, Unilever, P&G, L’Oréal and Avon are working with us to secure meaningful animal testing bans in many of the world’s most influential beauty markets. We’ve recruited Ralph as our spokesbunny to help get these laws over the finish line.

The campaign is focused on 16 countries including Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, and 10 Southeast Asian nations, with partner organizations, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund, focused on legislation in the U.S. HSI is also standing up for bans that are already in place, like in Europe where authorities are attempting to exploit a legal loophole by demanding new animal testing of cosmetic ingredients under chemical law. Save Ralph will shine a spotlight on all these countries, driving them toward the cruelty-free future that the public and consumers expect.

Fast facts about animal testing of cosmetics:

  • In some parts of the world, rabbits like Ralph are locked in neck restraints and have cosmetic products and ingredients dripped in their eye and on to the shaved skin on their back. Guinea pigs and mice have the chemicals spread on their shaved skin or on their ears. None of these animals are given pain relief, and all of them will be killed at the end.
  • Animal testing for cosmetics is officially already banned in 40 countries. HSI and partners were instrumental in securing bans in India, Taiwan, New Zealand, South Korea, Guatemala, Australia and 10 states in Brazil. Such testing is also banned in Turkey, Israel, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and in the U.S. states of California, Illinois, Nevada and Virginia. Five other U.S. states – New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island, Hawaii and New York – are now considering similar bills to end animal testing for cosmetics, and a federal bill called the Humane Cosmetics Act is anticipated to be reintroduced in the Congress this year.
  • The European Union banned all animal testing for cosmetics in 2013, yet today this celebrated precedent is being undermined by European Chemicals Agency demands that companies perform new animal tests on chemicals used exclusively in cosmetics. Read more here.
  • More than 2,000 “cruelty-free” beauty brands are available worldwide, including Lush, Garnier, Dove, Herbal Essences and H&M. These companies produce safe products by using ingredients with a history of safe use together with modern animal-free safety assessment tools. No single global shopping guide yet exists, but HSI recognizes LeapingBunny.org, BeautyWithoutBunnies, Logical Harmony, ChooseCrueltyFree and Te Protejo as useful resources.
  • HSI warns that even cruelty-free cosmetics are in jeopardy if chemical safety legislation continues to demand new animal tests for chemical ingredients used exclusively in cosmetics. That’s why the #SaveRalph campaign prioritizes getting test bans in place and robustly defended.
  • In addition to pursuing legislative bans, HSI and our partners are collaborating to develop a training program in animal-free safety assessment to support smaller companies and government authorities transition from animal testing to state-of-the-art non-animal methods, which are readily available and better at assuring human safety than the animal tests they replace.

Learn more at hsi.org/ralph.

Media downloads:

ENDS

Media contacts:

Rodrigo Santoro, Pom Klementieff, Maggie Q and other celebrities support Humane Society International’s campaign

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


HSI Ralph, spokes-bunny for HSI’s global campaign to ban cosmetic testing on animals

LONDON—Hollywood filmmakers and movie stars have joined forces with Humane Society International to produce a powerful stop-motion animated short film, Save Ralph, to end cosmetic testing on animals around the world. Although banned in 40 countries, the practice is still perfectly legal in most of the world, and even making a comeback in Europe, subjecting untold thousands of animals to needless suffering and death.

Taika Waititi, Ricky Gervais, Zac Efron, Olivia Munn, Pom Klementieff, Tricia Helfer and others have come together to help HSI change that by providing the voices for the Save Ralph film, which aims to shine a light on the suffering animals endure and engage the public and policy makers in HSI’s mission to ban it. Writer and director Spencer Susser (Hesher, The Greatest Showman), producer Jeff Vespa (Voices of Parkland) and production company AllDayEveryDay teamed up with the Arch Model studio of puppet maker supreme Andy Gent on the production to bring Ralph to life. The film is also being launched in Portuguese, Spanish, French and Vietnamese with Rodrigo Santoro, Denis Villeneuve, Rosario Dawson, H’Hen Nie and Diem My 9x voicing the characters in those languages, and Maggie Q providing a video message of support.

To view the short film and educational materials on the current status of animal testing and how you can help, please visit hsi.org/ralph

Troy Seidle, Humane Society International’s vice-president for research and toxicology, says: “Save Ralph is a wake-up call to European citizens and lawmakers who believe that animal testing for cosmetics is over in the EU. It’s not—it’s just been given a new name of ‘chemicals assessment’ but it’s the same old animal suffering. The decisions to perform new animal tests are coming not from companies – in fact some of the leading cosmetic and ingredient brands are furious and fighting these tests. The requirement is coming from the European Chemicals Agency which is using Europe’s chemicals law to circumvent the EU’s historic ban on animal testing for cosmetics. Regulators are demanding new chemical poisoning tests that consume the lives of thousands of animals apiece for cosmetic ingredients that have been used safely for years. Today we have an abundance of reliable, animal-free approaches for product safety assurance, so there’s no excuse for making animals like Ralph suffer in any type of test for cosmetic ingredients.”

The film features HSI’s campaign spokesbunny Ralph, voiced by Taika Waititi, being interviewed as he goes through his daily routine as a “tester” in a toxicology lab. HSI’s #SaveRalph campaign tackles the disturbing issue of animal testing in an original and unexpected way—using the story of one bunny to shine a light on the plight of countless rabbits and other animals suffering at this very moment in laboratories in Europe and around the world. It engages viewers to help ban animal testing of cosmetics once and for all.

Save Ralph director, Spencer Susser says: “Animals in cosmetic testing labs don’t have a choice and it’s our responsibility to do something about it. When the opportunity came up to create a new campaign for Humane Society International, I felt that stop motion was the perfect way to deliver the message. When you see the horrifying reality of the way animals are treated, you can’t help but look away. What I was hoping to do with this film was create something that delivers a message without being too heavy handed. I hope that audiences fall in love with Ralph and want to fight for him and other animals like him, so we can ban animal testing once and for all.”

Puppet master and set designer, Andy Gent says:I think the beauty of animation is that you can tell very complex stories and bring them to life in a non-threatening and educational way. In our miniature world of models and puppets using stop motion filmmaking we hope to bring attention to this mission to stop animal testing for cosmetics. We’re all very passionate about what we do, and it’d be very nice to think that this project to Save Ralph will have a greater, wider effect.” 

 Taika Waititi tweeted ahead of the launch: “This is a cool thing that is coming soon. If you don’t watch it and love it then you hate animals and we can’t be friends anymore. #SaveRalph.”

Ricky Gervais says: “Animal testing just makes me angry. There’s no justification for dripping chemicals in rabbits’ eyes or force-feeding them to rats just to make lipsticks and shampoo. Science has evolved enough to give us non-animal solutions to end this terrible cruelty—it’s time for our humanity to catch up.”

Tricia Helfer says: “I have been an animal lover for many years so I am honoured to lend my voice to this important, moving HSI campaign to end the cruelty of animal testing for cosmetics. Although we have made progress in some countries, globally there are still thousands of innocent animals just like Ralph who are made to suffer every day. Now is the time to change that.”

On the global stage, the campaign is focused on 16 priority countries including Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, and 10 Southeast Asian nations, and our partner organizations, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund, are focused on legislation in the U.S. Save Ralph will shine a spotlight on all these countries, driving them toward the cruelty-free future that the public and consumers expect.

Fast facts:

  • The European Union banned all animal testing for cosmetics in 2013, yet today this celebrated precedent is being undermined by European Chemicals Agency demands that companies perform new animal tests on chemicals used exclusively in cosmetics. Read more here.
  • In some parts of the world, rabbits like Ralph are locked in neck restraints and have cosmetic products and ingredients dripped in their eye and on to the shaved skin on their back. Guinea pigs and mice have the chemicals spread on their shaved skin or on their ears. None of these animals are given pain relief, and all of them will be killed at the end.
  • Cosmetic testing on animals is officially already banned in 40 countries. HSI and partners were instrumental in securing bans in India, Taiwan, New Zealand, South Korea, Guatemala, Australia and 10 states in Brazil. Such testing is also banned in Turkey, Israel, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and in the U.S. states of California, Illinois, Nevada and Virginia. Five other U.S. states – New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island, Hawaii and New York – are now considering similar bills to end animal testing of cosmetics, and a federal bill called the Humane Cosmetics Act is anticipated to be reintroduced in the Congress this year.
  • More than 2,000 “cruelty-free” beauty brands are available worldwide, including Lush, Garnier, Dove, Herbal Essences and H&M. These companies produce safe products by using ingredients with a history of safe use together with modern animal-free safety assessment tools. No single global shopping guide yet exists, but HSI recognizes LeapingBunny.org, BeautyWithoutBunnies and Logical Harmony as useful resources.
  • HSI warns that even cruelty-free cosmetics are in jeopardy if chemical safety legislation continues to demand new animal tests for chemical ingredients used exclusively in cosmetics. That’s why the #SaveRalph campaign prioritizes getting test bans in place and robustly defended.
  • In addition to pursuing legislative bans, HSI and our partners are collaborating to develop a training program in animal-free safety assessment to support smaller companies and government authorities transition from animal testing to state-of-the-art non-animal methods, which are readily available and better at assuring human safety than the animal tests they replace.

Media downloads:

ENDS

Media contact: Wendy Higgins, director of international media: whiggins@hsi.org

Consumers today are more conscious than ever about reading labels. But how do you avoid something that’s not written on labels—something like animal testing?

Humane Society International / Global


Giraffe
istock/CandyBoxImages

It used to be possible to categorize companies as either do test or don’t test; however, the reality today is more complex. That’s because, depending on the country and laws involved, it doesn’t always come down to a company’s choice.

Here’s some fine print you should know:

  • In most countries, there’s no legal requirement to test cosmetics on animals. That means companies can (and most now do) choose animal-free approaches for assuring themselves and cosmetic regulators of the safety of their products.
  • Companies can also choose whether or not to sell in countries where animal testing of cosmetics is required. The familiar example here is China. However, thanks to the creation of new regulatory avenues for companies to bypass animal testing for regular cosmetics, selling to China no longer means that animal testing is always a given.
  • Testing requirements under chemical laws are starting to impact cosmetic ingredients, even if they’ve been used safely for years. Today, manufacturers of cosmetic ingredients are being called on to provide more and more animal test data—and if the required information doesn’t already exist, new animal tests must be performed, or the ingredient will be prohibited from trade. We’re seeing this situation play out right now in Europe (ironically, the first major market to ban animal testing for cosmetics). Here, it’s not a company choosing to animal test, but being forced by government regulators (sometimes after considerable efforts by the company to negotiate a non-animal solution).

That’s why HSI works to change laws, rather than targeting companies. Our efforts, and those of other animal protection organizations, have convinced 40 countries to ban animal testing for cosmetics. We’re now fighting to defend these existing bans, and to have 16 more country bans enacted in influential beauty markets by 2023.

We believe consumers should be able to purchase any cosmetic, anywhere in the world, knowing it is safe and free from animal suffering. Until then, a number of reputable certification programs are available to help consumers navigate the complex landscape of cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics.

  • Companies certified “cruelty-free” have committed as of a certain date not to conduct or commission third-party animal testing of their finished products or ingredients, and to monitor the testing practices of their ingredient suppliers.
  • A cosmetic labeled “vegan” means that it does not contain any animal-based ingredients.

Not all cruelty-free products are vegan, nor are all vegan products cruelty-free, so it’s important to read the fine print.

Depending where you live, the following are useful resources for consumers wishing to avoid products developed using animal testing and/or animal ingredients:

  • LeapingBunny.org (North America)
  • BeautyWithoutBunnies
  • Logical Harmony
  • ChooseCrueltyFree (Australiasia)
  • Te Protejo (Latin America)

By shopping with intention, you’re making a real difference in the lives of animals, and sending a clear message to companies and governments that cruelty-free is the only brand of beauty with a future.

Humane Society International wins major FOIA case

Humane Society International / United States


Giraffe
GomezDavid Getty Images

WASHINGTON—After five years, a federal judge in the District of Columbia ruled last night that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can no longer withhold valuable wildlife trade data—such as tracking the imports of at-risk species killed by trophy hunters—into the U.S. The ruling to make that information available resulted from a lawsuit filed by Humane Society International in 2016.

LEMIS data, which stands for “Law Enforcement Management Information System,” is a source that tracks every import and export of wildlife into and out of the United States. This includes hunting trophies like those of imperiled giraffes and leopards; live animals like birds and reptiles imported for the exotic pet trade; monkeys used for experiments at research facilities; and animal skins such as those from snakes and lions. Organizations like the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International use this data to track trends in wildlife trade, petition the government for increased domestic and international protections for species threatened by international trade, and hold the government accountable for its actions.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service should have never removed access to this information and has been unlawfully withholding imperative data that impacts wildlife, conservation and global health. Transparency and justice prevailed this week,” said Laura Smythe, a staff attorney for the Humane Society of the United States, representing Humane Society International. “The United States is the world’s largest importer of both legal and illegal wildlife parts and products, and it is critical that the public has access to the full picture of the role our country plays in this destructive industry.”

Transparency is critical as scientists and the public are acknowledging the link between the wildlife trade and the threat of future global pandemics. The full extent to which the wildlife trade contributes to the spread of diseases is still unknown—but this information is crucial to solving those missing links and preventing future outbreaks.

Humane Society International has used LEMIS data to petition the Fish and Wildlife Service for Endangered Species Act protections of species such as African elephants and giraffes, which are at extreme risk of extinction from trophy hunting and trade in their parts. Humane Society International also used the data to petition for Endangered Species Act protections for pangolins. Access to this data allows Humane Society International to measure the United States’ demand for imperiled wildlife products such as pangolin scales and identify where increased protections are urgently needed.

Humane Society International also needs this information to work towards increased global protections for these and many more animals through CITES—an international agreement that regulates trade in imperiled species. The data is critical to knowing the role the United States plays in the destructive trophy hunting industry.

ENDS

Media contact: Wendy Higgins, Humane Society International: 07989 972423; Whiggins@hsi.org

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International celebrate as more Kering brands join fur-free Gucci and Bottega Veneta

Humane Society International / Europe


RT-Images/iStock.com

PARIS—Iconic British fashion houses Alexander McQueen and luxury Spanish designer Balenciaga are the latest Kering-owned brands to announce fur-free policies. Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States have been working with Kering, and its brands, for more than a decade on adopting a fur-free policy. McQueen and Balenciaga are the latest to join a rapidly expanding group of fashion designers dropping fur, including Prada, Gucci, Armani, Versace, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Burberry and Chanel.

The fur-free announcement was made in  Kering’s 2020 Universal Registration document, which reads “Most of the Group’s Houses do not use fur. For example, Gucci is part of the Fur Free Retailer program promoted by NGO Fur Free Alliance, and has banned the use of furs across its entire range since its Spring/Summer 2018 collections. Gucci is also committed to no longer using angora. Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen and MCQ also no longer use fur in their collections.”

Gucci previously announced its fur-free policy in 2017, and according to Bottega Veneta, they’ve been fur-free for nearly 20 years. Only Kering’s Saint Laurent and Brioni have yet to announce fur-free policies.

Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and CEO of Humane Society International, said, “Every time a big fashion name like Alexander McQueen or Balenciaga goes fur-free, it sends a clear message that fur has no place in a modern society. This is a statement that consumers care more about sustainable solutions than the fur trim on a bag or a coat. We look forward to continuing our work with Kering, and the rest of the industry, to ensure that humane and innovative materials are the future of fashion.”

This announcement comes as several cities, states and even entire countries look to ban fur sales. In 2019, California became the first US state to ban furs sales, after several of its cities—including Los Angeles and San Francisco—passed similar legislation. Lawmakers in several other US states have already introduced fur sales bans in 2021, and in the United Kingdom, which banned fur production in 2003, the government is now considering calls for the UK to become the first country to ban fur sales.

ENDS

Media contacts:

Humane Society International


HealthyFarm

DANANG—HealthyFarm, a sustainable retailer in Vietnam, officially announced a policy to highlight animal welfare in its supply chain, committing to sell only cage-free eggs. The social enterprise worked with Humane Society International, a leading global animal protection organization, on the adoption of this policy. By working and supporting its farmer networks, HealthyFarm’s new policy will help to improve the lives of up to 10,000 hens this year. HeathyFarm will focus on growth and expansion in the years to come.

Established in 2016 in Danang, HealthyFarm is a social enterprise focusing on food sustainability including natural farming practices and upholding animal welfare. The enterprise seeks to protect public health while maintaining low environmental impact. HealthyFarm’s mission is to bring clean, safe and natural food to consumers while simultaneously supporting the local farmers and local communities. After nearly five years of operation, HealthyFarm has distributed more than half a million free-range eggs to both wholesale and retail channels. Starting from 2020, the social enterprise has been partnering with HSI and World Animal Protection to develop networks of small-scale producers from rural communities to fulfill its commitment to serve 100% cage-free eggs in its stores and to its business customers. This is one of HealthyFarm’s most dedicated projects as it matches the organization’s mission. Additionally, HealthyFarm is planning several consumer engagement events to raise awareness about cage-free eggs and animal welfare across Vietnam.

Dr. Kasia Weina, founding partner and director of HealthyFarm, stated: “We are excited to take the next steps towards sustainable, responsible consumption that highlights ethical treatment of animals throughout our supply chain. We aim to pioneer this movement and continue to raise awareness and facilitate change surrounding this issue.”

Hang Le, corporate outreach manager for HSI/Vietnam, stated: “We applaud HealthyFarm for joining hundreds of food companies around the globe in pledging to source only cage-free eggs, and we invite other companies to do the same. Through commitments like these, consumers and the food industry in the country are sending a clear message: Immobilizing egg-laying hens in cages is unacceptable, and the days of not questioning how animals are treated in the food industry are long gone. The future of egg production is cage-free, and we look forward to continuing to work with HealthyFarm on the implementation of this policy.”

In Vietnam, the vast majority of egg-laying hens are confined in wire battery cages, where each hen has less space than an A4-sized sheet of paper to spend her entire life. Battery cages are inherently cruel—hens are unable to move freely or express important natural behaviour, including nesting, perching and dustbathing. Cage-free systems generally offer hens higher levels of animal welfare than battery cage systems.

HealthyFarm joins other multinational companies that have made similar global cage-free egg commitments that apply to Vietnam and the rest of Asia, including 4P’s Corporation, AccorHotels, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Nestle, Sodexo and Mondelez International, among others.

For more information on the project’s progress and updates, please follow the fanpage HealthyFarm – Naturally raised eggs.

ENDS

Media contacts: