In a victory for animals and people alike, the United Kingdom has passed a bill that will ban advertisements to venues and experiences that cause animals pain and suffering.
The Animals (Low-Welfare Activities Abroad) Bill passed its third reading in the House of Lords and almost immediately was granted Royal Assent by King Charles.
The legislation prohibits the sale, offering for sale, or advertising in England and Northern Ireland of any low-welfare animal activities that take place abroad. The legislation has been devotedly championed by UK-based nonprofit Save the Asian Elephants, whose founder Duncan McNair said he hopes the passage “may prove a momentous day for animals.”
“The measures, resolutely implemented and enforced, will help protect endangered and vulnerable species across the world from extreme exploitation, harm, and death in tourism,” McNair said. “They will also save many human lives, too, turned upon by maddened elephants and other creatures provoked by torture.”
The UK government noted that wild animals — including wild cats, elephants, and bears — often have to be viciously “trained,” deprived of food, or drugged to interact with tourists in the unnatural ways promoted by some “entertainment” venues.
Those victims include regal Asian elephants, who are often beaten and stabbed with vicious bull hooks behind the scenes to “train” them to perform unnatural stunts, like playing football, painting, and permitting tourists to ride on their backs or excessively bathe them, the government noted.
“The independent evidence on these kinds of experiences shows that animals used in the tourist trade are often subject to harsh treatment to ensure their compliance in activities,” The UK posted on its website.
The Association of British Travel Agents already has published a list of “unacceptable” attractions — including cruel rodeos, taking selfies with sloth and wild cats, canned hunting, feeding orangutans, elephant “shows,” bull running, and ritual animal slaughter, among many others.
One study from Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit estimated that at least 550,000 animals worldwide are suffering under the guise of “entertainment.”
“We know that some foreign tourist attractions often subject majestic animals like elephants to cruel and brutal training methods,” said Animal Welfare Minister Lord Richard Benyon. “I encourage holidaymakers to do their research so they can make informed choices that do not encourage poor animal welfare practices.”
Lady Freethinker applauds STAE, bill sponsor Angela Richardson, the UK government and legislators, and all the advocates who tirelessly championed this compassionate change! We’re excited to see what the future holds for animals as the world increasingly realizes that animals are not here for our “entertainment.”