LIFE

Animal Welfare In 2016: How Far We've Come And Where We Go From Here

The New York Times described this time as 'A Humane Revolution'.

15/11/2016 8:24 AM AEDT | Updated 15/11/2016 2:22 PM AEDT
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A recap of this year's big moves, and why you should care.

You don't have to be an activist to know about the seedy underbelly that exists to bring us products and entertainment at the expense of animals.

Depending on your level of curiosity, it's actually pretty easy to be well-informed. And with more and more big corporates taking a stand, finally, the world is getting serious about protecting our animals.

In May, the New York Times described this time as "A Humane Revolution" where animal rights groups are working with companies to change behaviours, while calling out those who are resisting.

Closer to home, Australia has had a handful of "wins" worth recognising -- many of them affect us in ways we probably haven't thought about before -- giving us even more reason to get informed.

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Your makeup and skincare

Australia will soon join the European Union, Israel, and New Zealand in banning the sale of animal-tested cosmetics. In the midst of this year's election campaign, the Liberal National Party announced that beginning in July 2017, the sale of cosmetics that have been tested on animals or contain animal-tested ingredients will be prohibited.

Purchasing fur

PETA's work in persuading retailers, designers, and fashion-event organisers paid off. This year as some of our best designers -- including Ellery, Sage Sydney, Jenny Kee, and the Telstra Perth Fashion Festival -- announced they would be going fur-free. These victories will prevent countless animals from being trapped, electrocuted, bludgeoned, or even skinned alive.

Cruelty-free dining

Australians are jumping on the meat-free bandwagon, with Google Trends data revealing searches for the word "vegan" noticeably increasing in 2016.

"This shift towards cruelty-free dining will prevent numerous animals from enduring a life spent in dark, cramped, filthy sheds before a terrifying, uncomfortable journey to the abattoir, where their throats are slit," Ashley Fruno, PETA Australia's Associate Director of Campaigns told The Huffington Post Australia.

What's more is we're also discovering that with a little creativity, vegan food options are actually pretty delicious.

Travel

In October, one of the world's largest travel sites, TripAdvisor, announced a landmark move to stop selling tickets to attractions at which travelers interact with wild or endangered animals in captivity. Setting the precedent, Australian travel agency Bunnik Tours also removed elephant rides and tiger temples from its tour itineraries in 2016.

Circuses

A number of councils around Australia have banned circuses from using exotic animals such as lions and monkeys. The most recent additions to this growing list, which now includes 50 council areas, are Melbourne and the Gold Coast.

"Animals in circuses spend most of their lives inside tiny cages or restrained by chains, and trainers typically use their fear of pain to force them to perform," Fruno said.

Pets

In a progressive move to combat its huge overpopulation problem, South Australia announced that it would become the first state in the country to introduce mandatory desexing for both cats and dogs. Sterilisation benefits the health of our animal companions and -- in combination with campaigns to promote animal adoption -- saves animals' lives. Fruno said each year, more than 200,000 healthy cats and dogs are euthanised nationwide simply because there aren't enough good homes for them.

"Hello, it's me. I was wondering if that spot on the couch, next to you, was free..." #Pricilla #PointerMix #AdoptMe

A photo posted by Sydney Dogs & Cats Home (@sydneydogsandcatshome) on

Puppy farming

In order to stamp out large-scale puppy farming, the Victorian Government introduced legislation to restrict the number of fertile dogs a breeder can keep. And Queensland passed laws requiring all dog breeders in the state to be registered.

SeaWorld

In March, SeaWorld U.S. announced it will end to orca breeding. The animals currently in captivity at the parks will live out the remainder of their lives there, becoming the last generation to be imprisoned this way.

Greyhound racing

It was a tumultuous year for greyhound racing in Australia as the New South Wales government backed down on its proposed legislation to ban the industry. Still, it will likely introduce numerous measures such as reducing the number of tracks in an effort to "clean up" the industry.

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