1,502,319 signatures were officially submitted to the European Commission calling for an EU ban on fur farming and sales
Humane Society International / Europe
BRUSSELS, Belgium―Today it was officially confirmed that 1,502,319 EU citizens have signed the Fur Free Europe European Citizens’ Initiative calling on the European Commission to ban fur farming and prohibit the placing of fur products on the European market. This marks the 10th successful European Citizens’ Initiative since the petition tool was launched, with seven of those 10 ECIs dedicated to animal issues. Fur Free Europe represents the most successful ECI for animal welfare, and the third most successful ECI overall. The ECI organisers will now meet with the European Commission and then attend a public hearing at the European Parliament, after which the European Commission must publicly respond to the initiative, before the end of the year.
The petition was launched in May 2022 with the backing of more than eighty animal protection organisations from across Europe, and closed on March 1st, more than two months earlier than its official deadline, thanks to a record number of unconfirmed signatures collected: 1,701,892 in less than ten months. The ECI also successfully reached the signatures threshold in twenty-one Member States, three times the minimum requirement of seven Member States.
“The overwhelming public support to this initiative has made one thing clear: fur must become a thing of the past. We are so proud to have achieved yet another step towards ending this cruel and unnecessary practice and now we call on the EC to use the new animal welfare legislation to make the wish of 1.5 million European citizens come true”, commented Reineke Hameleers, CEO of Eurogroup for Animals, the organisers of Fur Free Europe.
“There could not be a clearer sign than this enormous petition that there is no place for the cruelty of fur farming in a progressive, ethical society,” said Dr. Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs at HSI/Europe. “The European Commission now has a duty to propose legislation to consign this outdated practise to history and make Europe fur-free. Such a move would strengthen Europe’s position as a leader in animal welfare and humane progress.”
On all fronts, the existence of fur farming holds no reasonable grounds. In fur farms animals such as minks, foxes and racoon dogs are kept in tiny cages, hindered from displaying natural behaviour and killed solely because of the value of their fur.
In addition, the farms pose a significant risk to animal and human health, as demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, when outbreaks on mink fur farms caused variants to be transmitted from animals to humans. From an environmental perspective, the use of toxic chemicals in the production of fur also makes it a significantly polluting industry.
Media contact: Yavor Gechev, communications director for HSI/Europe: email@example.com ; +359889468098 ; +393515266629
Save Cruelty-Free Cosmetics: Commit to a Europe without Animal Testing ECI moves forward with a hearing at the European Parliament.
Continuing on its formal journey, after an initial meeting between the ECI organisers and the European Commission, the next step was the parliamentary hearing, held by the Committees of the European Parliament. The hearing was divided into three parts, corresponding with the ECI’s three objectives:
Protect and strengthen the cosmetics animal testing ban: initiate legislative change to achieve consumer, worker and environmental protection for all cosmetics ingredients without testing on animals for any purpose at any time.
Transform EU chemicals regulation: ensure human health and the environment are protected by managing chemicals without the addition of new animal testing requirements.
Modernise science in the EU: commit to a legislative proposal, plotting a roadmap to phase-out all animal testing in the EU, before the end of the current legislative term.
The ECI organisers: Cruelty Free Europe, Eurogroup for Animals, the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments, Humane Society International/Europe, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals proposed actions for a win-win-win scenario for science, society and animals by supporting once again a plan to transition to non-animal science.
During the hearing, the Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs—the Commission’s department for growth—committed to “try to be as ambitious as we can possibly be” in reaching their “ultimate goal of phasing out animal testing in the long-term”. This was reiterated by Ms Carmen Laplaza Santos, of the EC’s Health Innovations & Ecosystems unit, who promised the Commission’s final and detailed response to the Initiative by the end of July.
Over ten million animals—cats, dogs, rabbits, mice and others—are harmed every year in research and testing in laboratories around Europe. European citizens are demanding an end to the use of animals in cosmetics and other chemical tests, as well as an achievable plan to transition to a science without the use of animals.
Troy Seidle, Humane Society International vice president of research and toxicology, said:
“Reforms to the EU’s chemicals law are urgently needed to close loopholes that have allowed authorities to demand new animal tests for cosmetic ingredients, and reposition animal-free approaches as the gold standard for modern safety assessment. The much anticipated REACH reform process is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for EU institutions to honour the will of citizens who supported this ECI by standing firm against the introduction of new or expanded animal test requirements. Going forward, citizens expect that every legal reform process will tangibly reduce the testing burden on animals—not make it worse—until the EU’s stated goal of full replacement is achieved.”
This overwhelming public support echoes the position taken in 2021 by the European Parliament, which led to a resolution calling on the European Commission to coordinate, together with Member States, a concrete plan to accelerate the transition to non-animal testing.
“Citizens are calling on the EC to take a leadership role in the transition to non-animal science and drive a new way of thinking without animal experiments. We would like to thank the citizens, the NGOs, the researchers, the industry, the governments and the members of parliament that already support these goals. This ECI shows that EU citizens share many of this Parliament’s positions as laid out in the EP Resolution. We are confident that the EP will help to break the cycle of harms that come with animal experimentation, by supporting once again the end of all animal testing for cosmetics, no additional animal tests for safety assessments, and a roadmap to accelerate the transition to non-animal research, regulatory testing, and education,” commented Sabrina Engel, chair of the organising committee for the ECI.
Media contact: Cassie Bodin-Duval, International Coordinator, Media Relations, Humane Society International/Europe: firstname.lastname@example.org ; +32 (0) 469 149 469
Humane Society International / Europe
BRUSSELS—As the trade negotiations between the European Union and Australia move closer towards conclusion, representatives of animal protection NGOs and the negotiating teams from both sides today convened today at the European Parliament for a roundtable discussion organised by Humane Society International, exploring its potential positive effects on animals in farms or in the wild.
The inclusion of animal welfare and environmental provisions in EU trade agreements has become standard practice in recent years, but incorporating commitments on farm animal welfare in their free trade agreements is novel to their Australian negotiating partners. While the final outcome is not yet known, the EU’s text proposals tabled in 2018 sought to enhance cooperation and facilitate the exchange of information and expertise with an aim to align regulatory standards for farm animal welfare.
Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, noted: “Here, in the EU, we are on the cusp of a major revision of our outdated animal welfare legislation. It is no secret that the European Commission has already committed to delivering a proposal to ban the caged confinement of food-producing animals, and—unless these ambitious plans are scuppered by internal politics—we are anticipating many other proposed legislative changes that will significantly improve the lives of millions of farm animals in the future. Crucially, in the context of international trade, it is believed that the Commission will try to introduce animal welfare requirements at import, meaning that animal products from elsewhere will eventually need to be produced under equivalent animal welfare requirements to be able to be placed on the EU market. Not only will that level the playing field for EU producers, but it means that other countries like Australia are going to have a lot of catching up to do if they want to maintain market access to the EU for their meat and other animal product exports in the future. Ultimately that should benefit the welfare of animals in Australia, too.”
Nicola Beynon, head of campaigns for Humane Society International/Australia, added: “This should be a real wake-up call for Australia. We are already lagging far behind the EU when it comes to our farm animal welfare standards, and the European Commission is now acknowledging that their standards are no longer fit for purpose and need a radical overhaul. It is imperative that our federal, state and territory governments start paying attention to what the animal welfare scientists, animal protection organisations and concerned citizens are saying about meeting the welfare needs of farm animals and take urgent action to revamp our own animal welfare laws and standards with the same kind of level of ambition that our European trading partners are showing. Whereas, a reform of Australia’s environment laws that is underway must put a stop to the rampant deforestation that occurs for cattle production, and is imperilling iconic Australian species like the koala.”
With respect to wildlife protection, the EU’s initial text proposal for a Sustainable Development Chapter included specific commitments to implementing effective measures to tackle illegal wildlife trade, including demand reduction initiatives, and promoting the conservation and inclusion of additional species at risk of trade that are protected under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), plus implementing initiatives to enhance information sharing and cooperation between the parties to the CITES treaty with regard to (illegal) wildlife trade.
Previous trade agreements negotiated by Australia with its regional trade partners, particularly the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, have made robust commitments to the protection of biodiversity, including language on the protection of wildlife and the conservation of the environment, including the marine environment.
The breakfast roundtable event organised by Humane Society International/Europe and Humane Society International/Australia—in partnership with the Australian Alliance for Animals and Eurogroup for Animals—was hosted by German Green MEP, Manuela Ripa, was held at the European Parliament in Brussels and web streamed for stakeholders in Australia.
The EU and Australia formally entered into negotiations to achieve a free trade agreement in 2018. Thus far, 15 negotiating rounds have taken place between the Parties. More information on the trade negotiations and the EU text proposals can be found here.
Read Humane Society International’s detailed report about how the free trade deal is an opportunity to positively change the lives of millions of animals.
To underpin the planned legislative changes, the European Food Safety Authority has delivered a series of scientific opinions focusing on the welfare of various species farmed for food, including one supporting ending caged confinement for laying hens.
Media contact: Cassie Bodin-Duval, international coordinator in media relations: email@example.com ;+32 (0) 469 149 469
Humane Society International / Europe
BUCHAREST, Romania―Romanian politicians and animal protection organizations from across Europe joined forces to call for a ban on fur farming in Romania, during a round table event in the Romanian parliament. The Romanian office of Humane Society International organized the event, which well-known TV presenter Simona Gherghe moderated.
Participants at the “For a fur-free Romania” event urged the Chamber of Deputies to approve draft legislation currently under consideration that would ban fur farming in Romania, putting an end to the cruel practice of breeding and killing animals such as mink and chinchilla for their fur. The Romanian Senate voted in favor of the proposed legislation in December last year, but the Chamber of Deputies has the deciding vote. If passed, the ban would see Romania become the 20th European country to close down such farms.
Representatives from 13 animal protection groups that are members of the Fur Free Alliance—an international coalition working to end fur farming—were present at the event to support the proposed law to ban fur farming. The ban was proposed last year following the release of a shocking undercover investigation by HSI/Europe exposing the appalling conditions on fur farms across Romania. The first ever footage taken inside Romania’s chinchilla fur farms showed animals confined in small, filthy wire cages, their legs often slipping through the wire floor, only to be killed for fur fashion in improvised gas chambers at just a few months old.
Speaking on behalf of the initiators of the proposed ban, deputy Gheorghe Pecingină called for a favorable vote in the Chamber of Deputies as soon as possible. Pecingină said: “It is time for Romania to shut down its fur farms, and for the Chamber of Deputies to follow the example of the Senate by voting in favor of this initiative. There are only a handful of such farms left in Romania, only for two species – chinchillas and American minks. The draft law no. 23 /2023 must pass, and Romania must join the majority of member states of the European Union that have banned this cruel, anachronistic activity.”
Humane Society International/Europe announced the launch of a publicity campaign and petition to demonstrate public support for a fur farming ban. Andreea Roseti, Romania director for HSI/Europe, said: “I urge Romania’s members of Parliament to make the right decision from a moral standpoint and ban fur farms. Not only is it morally unacceptable to cause animals suffering in the name of fashion, but there are so many fur-free alternatives to such clothing products. The conditions on Romanian fur farms are terrible, as demonstrated by the videos, photos and testimonies made public last year by HSI/Europe.”
Joh Vinding, chairperson of the Fur Free Alliance, said: “We applaud the Romanian politicians who are supporting legislation to ban fur farming. A ban will make Romania part of a growing movement across Europe where already 19 countries have listened to the overwhelming public opinion that animals should not suffer for fashion. This important legislation will save thousands of animals and bring us one step closer to a fur free Europe.”
At the end of the discussion, Fur Free Alliance members submitted a letter addressed to the Prime Minister and members of the Chamber of Deputies, requesting the rapid approval of the draft law for banning fur farms in Romania. The letter cited animal protection and public health as primary reasons for such a ban, and highlighted the decline in popularity and economic value of the fur industry in recent years.
To date, fur farming has been banned in 19 European countries including 14 EU member states: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Slovenia. Proposed legislation to prohibit fur farming is currently being considered in Poland and Lithuania. A further two countries—Switzerland and Germany—have implemented such strict welfare regulations that fur farming has effectively ended, and three other countries—Denmark, Sweden and Hungary—have imposed measures that have ended the farming of certain species. Only a small number of EU member states, such as Romania, still allow the farming of animals for their fur to continue.
Earlier this year, the Fur Free Europe European Citizens’ Initiative collected more than 1.7 million signatories from citizens of the European Union. Addressed to the European Commission, the ECI calls for a ban on fur farming and on the trade of fur products in the European Union.
BUCHAREST, Romania—Four fashion brands in Romania have pledged to go fur-free after working with Humane Society International/Europe, and have become the first designers in Romania to join the global Fur Free Retailer program. Ioana Ciolacu, Muse um Concept, REDU and OCTAVIA CHIRU now join the almost 1,600 fashion brands, retailers and designers in 25 countries around the world to join Fur Free Retailer, including Gucci, Moncler, Prada, Adidas, H&M and Zara.
The fur-free announcements come at a crucial moment in HSI/Europe’s campaign to end the fur industry in Romania, with three committees in the House of Deputies discussing a bill to ban the keeping of mink and chinchilla for their fur. In December last year the Romanian Senate voted in favour of the bill.
Andreea Roseti, Romania country director for HSI/Europe, said: “HSI/Europe is pleased to have been able to work alongside these Romanian designers and fashion brands and applauds them for taking the important decision to join the Fur Free Retailer program. By making this commitment to a fur-free future, they are showing they are in tune with the growing majority of ethical consumers who believe that animals should not suffer in the name of fashion. Politicians in Romania also have an opportunity to take a stand against fur cruelty by supporting the bill to ban fur farming, and we hope that they will use their vote to consign this cruel industry to Romania’s history books.”
Romania is one of the few remaining EU member states where the keeping of animals for fur is still permitted. The practice has been banned in 19 European countries, including 14 EU member states, following public and political concern about animal welfare and the spread of zoonotic diseases. The fur industry in Romania is in decline, with the number of fur farms having dropped dramatically from more than 150 in 2013 to 13 in 2022. Despite this, two large mink farms and around a dozen chinchilla farms still operate, producing approximately 100,000 mink pelts and 15,000 chinchilla pelts annually.
Last year, an HSI/Europe undercover investigation exposed the animal suffering and deprived living conditions on Romanian chinchilla farms, where the animals are kept in small, dark and dirty cages, the females forced into a nearly permanent reproduction cycle before their short lives are ended by neck-breaking or in improvised gas chambers.
Around the world, there is increasing public outcry about the ethics of keeping and killing animals in factory farm conditions solely for fur fashion. In recent years, additional public, political and scientific concerns have intensified after mink on more than 480 fur farms across Europe and North America tested positive for the virus that causes SARS-CoV-2 including instances where the virus was transmitted to humans. Foxes and raccoon dogs, common species bred for fur, are also susceptible to the virus.
Public demand for an EU-wide ban on fur farming and fur imports has also been clearly demonstrated during the past 10 months. The Fur Free Europe petition collected more than 1.7 million signatures from EU citizens, and the European Commission is expected to respond within three months and to take action accordingly.
Ioana Ciolacu, the Romanian designer from contemporary womenswear fashion label of the same name, states: “Killing animals for fur is barbaric, unethical and in bad taste. When I see fur used in fashion, I see poor taste, so no animals should be killed in its name, because let’s be honest – no design can match this supreme sacrifice.”
Adina Orboi, the designer behind Muse um Concept, says: “Muse um Concept believes that nature, animals and people should be cared for and respected equally. It is an ethical choice not to use fur and other animal materials in my collections.”
Designer Andreea Sofronea from the sustainable fashion social enterprise, REDU, says: “For nearly eight years, our primary focus has been on environmental protection and making a positive impact on the planet. With technological advancements and sustainable alternatives in the textile industry, fur farming has become obsolete, inhumane, and purposeless in today’s society.”
Octavia Chiru from OCTAVIA CHIRU says: “We’ve created our sustainable fashion brand in a world of consumerism to make a difference. We want a future for everyone, a healthy one!”
More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide—that is equivalent to three animals dying every second, just for their fur.
Fur farming has been banned in 19 European countries including the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Malta, Ireland, Estonia, France, Italy and most recently, on 22nd September 2022, Latvia. Political discussions on a ban are also underway in Romania, Lithuania and Poland. A further two countries (Switzerland and Germany) have implemented such strict regulations that fur farming has effectively ended, and three other countries (Denmark, Sweden and Hungary) have imposed measures that have ended the farming of certain species.
The Fur Free Retailer program is the world’s leading initiative to connect fur-free businesses with customers looking for ethically sourced products. The program is free to join and aims to advise and encourage companies to go fur-free and further the spirit of ethical consumerism. The program is initiated by the Fur Free Alliance, an association of more than 50 animal welfare organizations, and is represented in Romania by Humane Society International/Europe.
Media contact: Yavor Gechev, communications director for HSI/Europe: firstname.lastname@example.org +359889468098
Hunts to kill polar bears, giraffes and African elephants promoted by cruel industry despite 89% of the public opposing trophy hunting
Humane Society International / Europe
MADRID—Humane Society International/Europe found that at least 54 outfitters at one of EU’s largest hunting fairs, Cinegética, were selling trophy hunts for internationally protected species.
Trophy hunters and industry gathered at the fair in Madrid to congratulate each other and brag about another year of conquests, including the trophy hunting of threatened and endangered species like addax, rhinoceros and leopards, and to increase sales for the deaths of hundreds of additional animals for entertainment. From March 23 through 26, foreign and domestic outfitters promoted special deals and luxury vacations to kill some of our world’s most important and imperiled wildlife; flouting the global biodiversity crisis to which direct exploitation of organisms, such as poorly managed trophy hunting, is the second largest contributor.
The species whose lives were offered up for sale include polar bears, lions, African elephants and leopards wrapped up in special holiday packages offered at relatively low prices, like 900 euros for a giraffe and 4,500 euros for a hunt to kill a female lion—including international flights and 7-day accommodations. Other emblematic species like elephants or rhinos were assigned heftier price tags given their rarity and high demand—as much as 24,500 euros and 60,000 euros respectively.
Special packs were on offer with additional animals, such as jackals or warthogs, included for free as extra perks or to serve as bait for hunting larger carnivores. Numerous trophies from different species like giraffe, African lion, brown/black bear and also polar bear were on display to drive demand for these rare and iconic species and to celebrate the hunters at the forefront of this destructive industry.
The event also served as the backdrop for the signing of the first transatlantic agreement between Safari Club International and Cinegética to further advance the trophy hunting industry’s objectives. This newly founded “largest alliance to promote hunters’ way of life,” and the claim “first for hunters” shows their intention to remove or block any obstacles to hunting activity, including much needed legal and regulatory protections for threatened and endangered wildlife.
In addition to sales and promotions, the Cinegética also served as an awards show for best foreign hunting trophies. Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to hunters for “achievements” in killing animals in Africa, America, Asia and Europe. Victims of the winners included CITES-listed species, like cougar and black bear.
An award was also handed out in a special category for trophies hunted with bow and arrow—a practice that is strongly criticised. Studies show that its use may result in a 50% wounding rate (animals injured, but not killed), suggesting that this method is far from being a clean kill and inflicts tremendous suffering to the target animal1. There was also one special award “Premio Nikon” sponsored and owned by camera and lens manufacturer Nikon, to the overall best trophy, a blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur), of which Spain is the biggest importer in the EU.
Dr. Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, said: “It is shocking to see that Cinegética is giving a promotional platform to the trophy hunting industry and dedicating large parts of the fair to the senseless slaughter of endangered wildlife. Immediate action must be taken to halt the promotion of trophy hunting at this fair”.
The vast majority (89%) of Spanish citizens clearly oppose the trophy hunting of internationally protected species. Overall, 84% support legislative change to ban the import of hunting trophies from threatened and endangered species to Spain.
Spain is the second largest importer, after Germany, of hunting trophies from mammal species listed under CITES. Between 2014 and 2020, Spain imported at least 3,208 hunting trophies from 56 different CITES-listed mammal species. The top five imported species were Hartmann’s mountain zebra (267), chacma baboon (256), lion (255), African elephant (220) and Siberian ibex (197). Spain also imported species that are classified as extinct in the wild by the IUCN, like Scimitar oryx and Arabian oryx. Furthermore, eight polar bears, one black rhinoceros, which is classified as Critically Endangered, and one tiger were imported as trophies from hunts. The numbers of imported species to Spain show that there is a steady increase during this time span of more than 50%, from 367 imported trophies in 2014 to 552 in 2020.
Other European countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the UK, have banned or are in the process of banning the imports of hunting trophies of endangered and threatened species.
In Spain, the Parliamentary Association for the Defense of Animal Rights held an event last year for International Wildlife Day where international experts explained the risks and dangers that trophy hunting has for endangered and threatened species. At the event, the Associations’ MP presented a Parliamentary initiative calling for a ban on hunting trophy imports of species listed in Annex A and seven species from Annex B (polar bear, African elephant, African lion, argali, hippopotamus, white rhino and the giraffe) of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations.
Note to editor:
 Ditchkoff, S., Welch, E., Lochmiller, R. L., Masters, R. E., Starry, W. R., Dinkines, & Lincoln, R. (1998). Wounding Rates of White-tailed Deer with Traditional Archery Equipment. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Southeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies 52, 244–248.
Media contact: Adeline Fischer, senior communications manager for HSI/Europe: email@example.com; +49 17631063219
One year on from a unanimous parliamentary resolution, what is next for Belgium?
Humane Society International / Europe
BRUSSELS—One year ago to the day, the Belgian Federal Parliament unanimously passed a resolution demanding that the government immediately halt the authorisation of hunting trophy import permits for certain threatened and endangered species. The vote was the culmination of an extensive process of debate over a full legislative bill that included readings, a hearing with experts, and lengthy discussions among MPs in Parliament.
The resounding political support for the resolution was welcomed by conservationists and animal protection NGOs and is also supported by wider public opinion in Belgium. According to the results of a survey by Ipsos, commissioned by Humane Society International/Europe, 91% of Belgians oppose trophy hunting and 88% support a prohibition on importing any kind of hunting trophy at all. Shortly before the vote last year, Animal Rights Belgium delivered a petition with 37,000 signatures supporting the ban to the Federal Environment Minister, Zakia Khattabi.
The resolution specifically calls for trophy import prohibitions for species listed in Annex A of the EU’s regulation on trade in plants and animals, including rhinoceros, African elephant, lion, polar bear and argali sheep, as well as certain animal species listed in Annex B of the same regulation. This resolution follows the example of the Netherlands, which banned the import of trophies of over 200 species in 2016, and France, which instituted a Ministerial decree to halt authorising trophy import permits for lions in 2015.
Reacting to the one-year anniversary, , co-author of the legislative report and sponsor of the resolution, Kris Verduyckt (Vooruit, Flemish Socialists) said: “Our country is a real hub when it comes to imports of hunting trophies of endangered species. That is why the Parliament unanimously voted in favour of a ban, back in March 2022. Now, the ball is in Minister Khattabi’s court. She promised to work towards this ban, and last week, she reiterated that commitment. The draft bill is ready to be discussed in the Federal Council of Ministers.”
Ruud Tombrock, executive director of HSI/Europe, adds: “Trophy hunting is a known factor in driving species to extinction. Trophy hunters prefer to kill the largest, strongest animals, whose loss contributes to social disruption and declines in animal populations. The Belgian resolution is a clear statement that killing cannot be conservation. We call on the Minister to implement the resolution now.”
It is unclear whether the ministry, against the stated will of the Parliament, has continued to approve permits for the import of hunting trophies from imperilled species since March 2022. Joffrey Legon, ‘Ban hunting’ campaign coordinator at Animal Rights Belgium, says: “We hope this is not the case, as having prohibited the import of these hunting trophies would have saved countless lives. We NGOs are asking the ministry (for an appointment) to clarify future plans on the subject and (to) offer our assistance if needed.”
Belgium is the 13th largest hunting trophy importer of internationally protected species Europewide, ranking immediately after Italy. Other European countries are in the process of instituting bans—Finland has already passed a similar law that will come into force this summer and last week the UK’s House of Commons approved a Bill to ban hunting trophy imports.
Further delay in implementing the Belgian resolution will set back the fight to protect our world’s most imperilled species from this wholly avoidable form of direct exploitation.
Humane Society International/Europe, Adeline Fischer: firstname.lastname@example.org ; +49 17631063219
Captive-bred lion hunts for sale against convention rules; potential violations of state law; hundreds of hunts targeting rhinos, leopards, elephants; practices that violate hunting ethics; custom products made from skin and claws
Humane Society International / Europe
BRUSSELS—A shocking undercover investigation released by the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International exposed the hypocrisy that the trophy hunting industry uses to promote the killing of imperiled species. The Safari Club International convention in Nashville, Tennessee Feb. 22 through 25, hosted over 850 exhibitors from more than 140 countries peddling trophy hunts and products made from animal skins and claws. The event brought in about $6 million in revenue for SCI to further its lobbying efforts to roll back laws and regulations that protect vulnerable species from trophy hunting, including the US Endangered Species Act protections.
Trophy hunts were offered in at least 65 countries with the majority in South Africa, Canada, Namibia, Zimbabwe and New Zealand. Almost 100 outfitters offered elephant hunts, at least 115 offered leopard hunts, 98 offered lion and giraffe hunts, 89 offered hippo hunts, and 39 offered rhino hunts. On exhibitors’ websites, critically endangered animals, like the forest elephant and the black rhino, were also available to hunt, as well as captive animals such as scimitar oryx, a species classified as extinct in the wild and bred almost exclusively for trophy hunting.
The investigation revealed hunting trips sold from $2,500 to $143,000 with menus so hunters could “add-on” animals in addition to their primary targets. Most African carnivore hunts were advertised to include baiting—a practice that uses carcasses of other animals, like impala and zebras, or other items to lure the target species, which violates fair chase ethics and causes conservation issues by drawing out animals from protected areas into hunting zones.
Among the most revealing investigation findings is a recorded conversation with an exhibitor who encouraged the investigator to schedule a white rhino hunt before it is too late as the species is on the brink of extinction. They stated: “The one that’s gonna be closed down the soonest to import to the United States because of the numbers going down is the rhino… and if you want something Africa[n], you have to get the rhino as soon as possible.”
Outfitters were also vocal about “bending the rules” and broke policies to make a sale. One vendor violated the convention’s own policy against promoting captive lion hunts—a cruel, senseless practice condemned by the South African and U.S. governments and many others. He told the investigator, “You can hunt…captive bred lions in South Africa, cause this way you’re not impacting the wild lions…but they…catch their own animals; they’re as wild as can be.” Another told the HSUS/HSI investigator, “…we’ve got hunters that really can’t walk at all…we do bend our own rules a little and we shoot them from the truck…we don’t have a problem with it.” Hunting from a vehicle is illegal in many places because it violates fair chase ethics and invites numerous safety hazards.
Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said: “Despite the public’s growing disdain for trophy hunting, Safari Club International’s convention celebrates the senseless killing of animals, putting their deaths up for sale around the world, all to be turned into nothing more than trinkets and stuffed trophies. Make no mistake: This is an industry that threatens our most imperiled and ecologically important wildlife. As one of the world’s largest consumers of hunting trophies of imperiled species, the United States government has the responsibility to end hunting trophy imports.”
Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, said: “What our colleagues saw and heard at the US convention are not isolated incidents—similar things have also been reported to happen at European hunting fairs. Regrettably, the EU is the second largest importer of trophies from internationally protected species. The European Commission needs to take immediate action to ban hunting trophy imports in line with a precautionary approach to species’ protection. Recent public opinion polls and our various submissions to Commission stakeholder consultations highlight not only the urgent welfare, conservation and biological need for action on hunting trophy imports, but also the general public’s desire to see an end to this egotistical exploitation of endangered and threatened wild animals.”
Jeff Flocken, president of Humane Society International, said: “Iconic species like elephants, rhinos and leopards play critical roles in their respective ecosystems, with many other species dependent on the delicate balance they provide. Sadly, these same animals are also highly coveted by trophy hunters. And as they often target the largest individuals of a species, they weaken the gene pool and can even cause collapses of small populations. In the midst of this biodiversity crisis in which over one million species face extinction, the global community must strive to protect wild animals by eschewing cruel practices like trophy hunting.”
The EU is the second-largest importer of animal trophies in the world, according to HSI/Europe’s report Trophy Hunting by the Numbers. Between 2016 and 2018, the EU was the largest importer of lion trophies globally. Trophies from at least 15,000 internationally protected mammals from 73 CITES-listed species were legally imported to the EU between 2014 and 2018, with a nearly 40% increase in trophy imports to the EU during this period.
As outlined in a recent report calling for a revision of the trophy hunting regime in the European Union, there is a long history of a lack of proper regulation and oversight when it comes to trade in hunting trophies. Even where trophy hunting is legal and follows management guidelines, there is evidence of population declines, indirect negative effects on populations, biologically unsustainable quotas, offtake of restricted individuals like breeding females and cubs, poor population estimates and monitoring, quotas assigned at the incorrect spatial scale, significant animal welfare concerns and a lack of transparency in data and policy and management decisions. A comprehensive ban on the import of hunting trophies of regulated species is a necessary precautionary approach to protect imperiled species.
Media contact: Adeline Fischer, senior communications manager for HSI/Europe: email@example.com; +49 17631063219
43 countries have stopped animal testing for cosmetics and more bans on the way
Humane Society International / Europe
EUROPE—This Saturday marks the 10th anniversary of the European Union’s ban on cosmetic animal testing and trade, and the climax of a decade-long campaign by Humane Society International, its affiliates and partners to extend the cruelty-free cosmetics model across the globe. Humane Society International and other non-governmental organizations, together with a growing number of forward-looking beauty brands, have been instrumental in securing more than two dozen national and state animal testing or sales restrictions. Now, they are calling on countries around the globe to follow suit.
Aviva Vetter, senior manager of Humane Society International’s global cosmetics campaign, said: “We are immensely proud of how far the beauty sector has evolved since launching our #BeCrueltyFree campaign, and the life-saving impact it has had for untold numbers of animals in countries that outlawed animal testing for cosmetics, or that have moved away from such testing being mandatory. Our aim is to build on this progress by securing similar national measures in additional key markets, including Canada, Brazil, Chile, South Africa and Southeast Asia, over the coming year. It’s time to consign cosmetics testing on animals to oblivion once and for all.”
Since its 2012 launch, Humane Society International’s global campaign has produced a wave of national bans or restrictions on animal testing for cosmetics—from India, South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, Guatemala, Mexico, and just this past week, Brazil. China, long the only country to expressly require animal testing for cosmetic products as a condition of sale or import, has gradually relaxed its requirements since 2014. With 43 national bans currently in force an end to this needless and cruel practice is finally in sight.
The most iconic feature of HSI’s campaign is its charismatic spokesbunny Ralph, who became a worldwide sensation in 2021 following release of the stop-motion film Save Ralph. This docu-style film shines a poignant light on the plight of animals in testing labs through a creative collaboration between HSI, Hollywood filmmakers and animators, and a star-studded, multilingual voice cast featuring Oscar-winner Taika Waititi, Ricky Gervais, Zac Efron, Olivia Munn, Tricia Helfer, Pom Klementieff Denis Villeneuve, George Lopez Rosario Dawson, Wilmer Valderrama, ,Rodrigo Santoro , Diem My Vu and H’Hen-Nie, who brought Ralph and his friends to life in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Vietnamese. The film’s viral popularity led to more than 825 million #SaveRalph tags and homages on TikTok, more than 150 million film views on social platforms, and inspired more than 5 million people to take action to help by signing HSI petitions. Save Ralph has gone on to win numerous prestigious awards, including the Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Good award and two Webby awards.
Leadership by European lawmakers, NGOs and other stakeholders in pioneering a cruelty-free innovation model for the cosmetics sector inspired not only Humane Society International’s transformative global campaign, but the creation of a new generation of scientific tools for making safety decisions without animal testing—a true win for everyone.
Humane Society International launched its global #BeCrueltyFree campaign in 2012 in partnership with the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund and Lush Cosmetics.
Since 2019, other industry leaders have teamed up with Humane Society International through the Animal-Free Safety Assessment Collaboration to advance cosmetics animal testing bans in key global beauty markets, including Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Avon Products Inc., L’Oréal and Johnson & Johnson.
These and other Animal-Free Safety Assessment Collaboration members have also developed a state-of-the-art Master Class in Animal-Free Cosmetic Safety Assessment to build confidence, capacity and global use of non-animal science in safety decision-making.
Humane Society International would like to express its heartfelt thanks to all our #SaveRalph collaborators, including writer/director/editor Spencer Susser; producers Jeff Vespa and Lisa Arianna; puppet-makers and set designer Andy Gent and the team at arch Film and Arch Model Studios; lead animator Tobias Fouracre, DP Tristan Oliver, and our incredible voice cast of Taika Waititi, Ricky Gervais, Zac Efron, Olivia Munn, Pom Klementieff, Tricia Helfer, Denis Villeneuve, George Lopez, Rosario Dawson, Wilmer Valderrama, Denis Villeneuve, Rodrigo Santoro, Diem My Vu and H’Hen-Nie, who donated their time and talent to bring Ralph and his friends to life in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Vietnamese.
BRUSSELS—An official EU-wide petition, called the Fur Free Europe European Citizens’ Initiative, has closed more than two months ahead of the deadline for signatures after exceeding the number of signers required for the European Commission to respond. More than 1.7 million EU citizens signed the petition calling for an EU-wide ban on cruel fur farming and trade. Following its commitments under the EU Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Commission is currently drafting legislative proposals to update and expand the scope of EU animal welfare legislation. Campaigners argue this is the perfect opportunity to include a ban on the fur trade across the European Union.
Launched on 18 May last year with a target of 1 million signatures within 12 months, the ECI has collected enough signatures in less than 10 months for campaigners to be confident it will exceed the target after signatures are officially validated. More than 80 animal protection organisations from across Europe, including Humane Society International/Europe and other members of the Fur Free Alliance, called on EU citizens to take part if they agree that fur farming is cruel and unnecessary.
Dr Joanna Swabe, HSI/Europe’s senior director of public affairs, says: “EU citizens have made their voice heard loud and clear, they want a full EU-wide ban on cruel fur farming and fur imports. Fur farming is inherently inhumane, so we warn the Commission that any proposal for animal welfare standards for species, such as mink and fox, would be completely unacceptable. More than 1.7 million signatures have been collected in less than 10 months, so now it’s time for the Commission to take decisive action and consign this cruel trade to the annals of history. Confining animals to a miserable life in a cage just for frivolous fur fashion is a practice that belongs to the past. The fur industry has no future in the European Union.”
The complex behavioural needs of wild species, such as American mink, fox, chinchilla and raccoon dog, cannot be met on fur factory farms, and eye and ear infections, deformed feet, repetitive pacing indicative of mental decline, and cannibalism have all been documented on fur farms in Europe. In addition to animal cruelty, fur farming is damaging to the environment due, for example, to the use of toxic chemicals to dress, dye and preserve fur. Fur farms also pose a risk to European biodiversity. American mink is an invasive alien species that has been implicated in the decline of native species, such as the European mink and water vole, and has had a significant impact on breeding success of native birds and on domestic fowl.
Fur farming also poses a serious public health risk. Since April 2020 there have been hundreds of outbreaks of COVID-19 on mink fur farms across Europe, and in October 2022 a fur farm in Spain with 52,000 mink reported an outbreak of avian flu that had likely spread between the animals.
To date, 19 countries across Europe, including Member States the Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, France, Luxembourg, Estonia, Latvia, Malta, Ireland and Austria, have banned the practice of fur farming. Fur farming continues to be allowed in Finland, Poland, Greece, Lithuania, Spain, Romania, Sweden, Denmark and Bulgaria. However, figures show the industry is in decline: in 2014, approximately 43.6 million animals were killed for fur in European countries, a number that had fallen to 30.7 million by 2019 and, as of 2021, has declined further to 12 million animals. More than 1,500 retailers, including Gucci, Adidas, H&M and Zara, have committed to a fur-free future and have joined the Fur Free Retailer scheme.
The next phase of the ECI process is the validation of the signatures by Member States, which will take three months, after which the European Commission must take the ECI into consideration and deliver a response within six months.