Humane Society International


Dog on a dog meat farm
Jean Chung

SEOUL—Korean animal protection groups have joined forces to save 50 dogs from being euthanised on a dog meat farm in Yongin city after the facility was closed down by the authorities. The dogs were found by the rescuers locked up in barren metal cages without water or proper food, after the four farmers running the farm had moved off the property following a demolition order by local officials. The farm had been operating in breach of the national Animal Protection Act. Humane Society International/Korea, LIFE, KoreanK9Rescue and Yongin Animal Care Association stepped in and worked together with the local authorities to save the dogs so that the structures could be demolished.

In addition to spending their lives in the misery of a small cage, some of the dogs were caged next to the slaughterhouse on site, and were clearly traumatised from watching and hearing dogs being killed. All the dogs—jindos and mastiffs, breeds often promoted as “meat dogs” by the industry—plus “Tiny Tim”, the farmer’s small pet terrier who he relinquished, are now receiving veterinary care and vaccinations, and will all eventually be flown to HSI’s temporary shelters in the United States and Canada to find adoptive families.

Nara Kim, HSI/Korea’s campaign manager, said “These dogs really needed our help because they would have been euthanized by the authorities without a rescue plan. We knew we had to act fast to save them, so it was wonderful that HSI, LIFE, KK9K and YACA all worked so well together as a team to get these dogs out. These efforts show how much passion there is in South Korea to end the dog meat industry. These dogs were in a pitiful state, skinny and frightened and existing in terrible conditions. It was shocking to see the slaughter area on site too with abandoned electrocution equipment and knives. I am horrified to think how many dogs lost their lives there. The sooner we can end the dog meat industry, the sooner we can see an end to such pitiful scenes of animal suffering.”

Many of the dogs were suffering from malnutrition as well as painful skin diseases and sore feet due to standing on the wire cage floor. Others had also been left with painful and untreated head and ear wounds. A number of the animals were extremely afraid of people, left tightly curled up and trembling in the back of the cage.

In-Seob Sim, president of LIFE, said: “It has been 30 years since the Animal Protection Act was established in Korea, however still so many animals are not protected properly. Government officials should make and implement policies to ban the slaughter of dogs for food. We should no longer subject this misery on future generations of dogs.”

Hyun Yu Kim, founder of KoreanK9Rescue, said: “It is significant that all these dogs are being given the chance of a new life instead of being euthanized or killed at the slaughter house. However, there are still countless dogs out there bred for meat who are still suffering. We are calling for urgent action from the government to introduce laws to ban the dog meat trade and protect dogs like these.”

Miyeon Ki, Yongin Animal Care Association, said: “I am overwhelmed by this life-saving mission for the 50 dogs who have escaped first the crisis of brutal slaughter for dog meat and then the threat of death by euthanasia, but have dramatically found a chance to live again. I think the effort to save lives in any difficult situation is the faith of animal rescue group.”

Yang-Jin Cho, Animal Protection Division, Yongin city said: “The city officials really felt bad for these dogs and hoped that something could be arranged to give the dogs the best chance. So we are really happy that these animal groups were able to help and give the dogs a future.”

Humane Society International/Korea, which has closed down 17 dog meat farms in the country, is campaigning for legislation in South Korea to end the dog meat trade. A recent opinion poll commissioned by HSI/Korea and conducted by Nielsen shows growing support for a ban on the dog meat trade, with nearly 84% of South Koreans saying they don’t or won’t eat dog, and almost 60% supporting a legislative ban on the trade.

Facts:

  • An estimated 2 million dogs are kept on thousands of farms across South Korea.
  • Most South Koreans do not consume dog meat, and a growing population see dogs only as companion animals.
  • Although not part of the culinary mainstream for most people, dog meat is most popular during the Bok days of summer spanning July and August, based on its perceived curative properties during the hot and humid summer months.
  • Recent crackdowns by authorities to curb the dog meat industry include the shutting down of Taepyeong dog slaughterhouse (the country’s largest) by Seongnam City Council in November 2018, followed in July 2019 by the closure of Gupo dog meat market in Busan, and a declaration in October last year by the mayor of Seoul that the city is “dog slaughter free”. In November 2019 a Supreme Court found that a dog farmer who electrocuted dogs was in violation of the Animal Protection Act, a judgement that could have huge implications for an industry that relies almost entirely on electrocution as a killing method.
  • This farm closure was conducted under COVID-19 health and safety restrictions. At each dog meat farm closure, HSI has a veterinarian test for the presence of the H3N2 virus (“canine influenza”), at the time the dogs receive their rabies, distemper, hepatitis, parvo virus, parainfluenza and Leptospira vaccines. HSI then quarantines the dogs on the farm or at a shelter for at least 30 days and the dogs are health certified again prior to transport overseas, in accordance with international export and import requirements.

Download broll video and photos of the rescue here.

*Nielsen online research conducted August/September 2020. Total sample size 1,000 people across six major cities in South Korea (Busan, Daegu, Incheon, Gwangju, Daejeon, Ulsan) weighted and representative of South Korean adults (aged 18+).

ENDS

Media contacts:
United Kingdom: Wendy Higgins: whiggins@hsi.org, +44 (0)7989 972 423
South Korea: Nara Kim, nkim@hsi.org

Queen guitarist Brian May says the UK should ‘close our borders to the cruel, outdated, unnecessary and dangerous fur trade’

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


HSI

London—CEOs and Directors from five of the UK’s largest animal protection organisations gathered today with campaigners in geometric fox masks at the gates of No 10 Downing street to submit 1 million petition signatures to the Prime Minister, calling for the UK to ban the sale of cruel animal fur.

The #FurFreeBritain petition, led collectively by Humane Society International/UK, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (UK), FOUR PAWS UK, Open Cages and the RSPCA, comes the day before a Ten Minute Rule Bill to propose a fur sales ban will be heard in the House of Commons. Celebrity supporter Chris Packham joined the petition hand-in virtually with a video message declaring his support for a UK fur sales ban.

Fur farming was outlawed in the UK nearly two decades ago in 2003, because it was deemed too cruel an industry to support. But since then Britain has imported more than £800 million worth of fur from countries including Finland, China, France and Poland, where animals experience terrible suffering and mental distress on fur farms. This is a double standard that needs to end – if fur is too cruel to produce in this country, it’s too cruel to sell in this country.

The 1 million petition signatures, from supporters all over the world, were submitted to Prime Minister Boris Johnson together with a letter from Brian May, which reads that the UK has “the opportunity to act as a global leader in moral standards, and close our borders to the cruel, outdated, unnecessary and dangerous fur trade”. The joint letter was co-signed by Humane Society International/UK, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (UK), FOUR PAWS UK, Open Cages and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Animal Aid, The Jane Goodall Institute, Viva!, and Brian May’s Save Me Trust. Petition platform Care2 also supported the petition, as did Change.org with a personal petition by TOWIE star Pete Wicks. A government e-petition also added 109,533 signatures to the total.

Queen Guitarist Brian May, in a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “Fur farming was banned in this country almost twenty years ago, we showed great leadership on animal welfare then and now we have the opportunity to act as a global leader in moral standards again, by closing our border to the cruel, outdated, unnecessary and dangerous fur trade. I urge you, Prime Minister, to take decisive action now and make Britain fur-free!”

Claire Bass, Executive Director for Humane Society International/UK, said, “Fur farming is rightly banned here, but we’re still importing the same cruelty from overseas. The government has the opportunity to end that double standard and our million signature petition today shows that there is enormous public support for a fur trade ban. The British public, along with politicians, designers, celebrities and retailers are in agreement that incarcerating and killing animals for fashion does not reflect brand Britain, the future of fashion is fur free.”

Elisa Allen, Director, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), said, “Permitting fur imports flies in the face of the values held by the overwhelming majority of British people, who do not wish to support an industry in which animals are drowned, electrocuted, and even skinned alive. The government must listen to the will of the people and bring forward this much-needed legislation.”

Brian da Cal, FOUR PAWS UK Director said, “In excess of one million signatures have joined our calls to remove the sale of fur from our shores. We banned fur farming many years ago, but until we extend the same legal provisions to the sale of it, we cannot fully embrace what so many are demanding. Fur farming is a cruel practice and with brands, both designer and high street, removing it, it is clear that the use of fur is no longer in fashion. Now, the only step left is for the Government to recognise this and fully embrace that we want to be a Fur Free Britain.”

Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive for the RSPCA said, “We want to see an end to an industry where animals are suffering and dying for fashion. Breeding animals for fur can be a cruel and unnecessary business that should have no place in the modern world. Even though fur is no longer farmed in the UK, it is still legal to import and sell it here. So the UK remains complicit in the continuation of the global fur market, profiting from this cruel international trade. It is shameful and it’s high time we got our house in order and made fur imports and sales illegal. Our petition calling for a Fur Free Britain has been supported by thousands of animal lovers and we hope the Government listens to our calls to end this horrific trade in the UK.”

Connor Jackson, CEO for Open Cages said, “I have looked into the eyes of deranged foxes circling their filthy cages, waiting to be killed for their fur. I have seen these sensitive wild animals reduced to clothing, denied even the most basic needs. It’s crystal clear that suffering is fundamental to the fur industry, and Britain is complicit with every day we continue to allow fur to be sold on our high streets.”
The majority of British people support the proposed fur sales ban. A 2020 YouGov opinion poll commissioned by HSI/UK shows that 93% of the British public do not wear real animal fur, and the words 79% of people most closely associate with a fashion brand selling fur are ‘unethical’, ‘outdated’, ‘cruel’ and ‘out of touch’.

Last autumn, Defra Minister Lord Goldsmith stated that “Fur farming has rightly been banned in this country for nearly 20 years and at the end of the transition period we will be able to properly consider steps to raise our standards still further. That is something the Government is very keen to do.” The campaign has also received cross party political support from 140 MPs who have signed Early Day Motion 267 against real fur imports.

Fur Facts:

  • A total of 1, 065, 247 signatures have been added to the Fur Free Britain petition to date.
  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide including mink, foxes, raccoon dogs, chinchillas and rabbits—that’s equal to three animals dying every second, just for their fur.
  • Fur farming has been banned across the UK since 2003, and has been banned and/or is in the process of being phased-out in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Croatia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Most recently the government in Hungary declared a ban on the farming of animals for fur including mink and foxes, the French government is currently debating a ban on mink fur farming, and the Irish government has made a commitment to bring forward legislation in 2021.
  • Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland and Ukraine are also presently considering bans on fur farming, and in Finland the majority party of the coalition government recently announced its support for a ban on fur farms.
  • In the United States, California became the first US state to ban fur sales in 2019 following similar bans in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood. Legislators in Rhode Island, Oregon, Connecticut, Hawaii, New York and Massachusetts have introduced fur sales ban proposals. A bill introduced in Washington state would ban the production of fur.
  • Mink on more than 420 mink fur farms across 12 countries have been found infected with COVID-19, leading to mass culls. The potential for zoonotic disease spread, and for mink fur farms in particular to act as reservoirs for coronaviruses, incubating pathogens transmissible to humans, is another compelling reason for governments around the world to call time on fur, by banning farming and sales.

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Media contact: Leozette Roode, HSI/UK Media and Campaigns Manager, e lroode@hsi.org t +27 713601104

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.”

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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.

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