AIA’s International Campaigns Secretary, Marian Hussenbux is responsible for AIA’s global animal advocacy work. This involves writing to people of influence about animal suffering and cruelty around the world, sometimes in support of the campaigns run by other organisations and sometimes in support of AIA’s own campaigns.
AIA’s Campaigning Activity – from April 2019 to July 2019
England and Wales:
Elephants in British zoos
Born Free was asking for support for their campaign for elephants in British zoos, so we wrote to the 12 zoos involved.
In accordance with this, we asked them to phase out their elephant exhibits, give up breeding them, if appropriate, ban the use of the bullhook – not all do use it – and if they held a single elephant, as three of them did, commit to not bringing in more. We only received replies from three, Chester, Blair Drummond in Scotland, and Belfast. Though Chester and Belfast replied in some detail, none answered the exact questions we were asking. We asked the non-respondents the same questions twice more, to no avail.
Having subsequently learned of a petition to send Duchess, the single elephant at Paignton Zoo, to sanctuary, we wrote again to them. No reply was forthcoming, and we learned soon after that Duchess had collapsed and had to be euthanized. We sent our condolences to the zoo, because we know that they loved Duchess, though of course that affection can never replace the loss of living with their real families in freedom.
Save the Asian Elephants
The organisation Save The Asian Elephants (STAE), which was featured in a previous magazine, asked us to support their work in the tourist industry. We wrote to Gove, asking for a ban on the promotion of elephant-involved tourist offers, such as the riding of elephants, and, in compliance with a pledge made by a Tory government in 2015 appealed to him to work with India on elephant welfare, such as veterinary care and training of the mahouts.
We also asked the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) to adopt a policy of promoting only non- cruel elephant activities, and sent this request to Thomas Cook and Virgin Holidays. The latteractually already has this policy.
Hares and higher sentences
We wrote to Minister George Eustice, asking for a close season for hares in England and Wales, and to Michael Gove at DEFRA on the subject of the handing down of higher sentences for animal cruelty.
Licenses to Shoot Birds
The General Licences to shoot many species of birds if perceived to be a nuisance for one reason or another, such as corvids, gulls, cormorants et al, were challenged in court by the conservation group Wild Justice and we supported their query into the legality of the system. Natural England responded by suddenly revoking the Licences, provoking much opposition from farmers and others affected, and then re-instated them in a slightly different form almost immediately. This matter continues.
The import of hunting trophies
The import into this country of hunting trophies, often the victims of so-called Canned Hunting in South Africa, has not been banned by Gove and we wrote to ask him why not.
On the same subject, the Birmingham NEC is due to host the Great British Shooting Show next February, and among the exhibitors booked were 10 trophy hunting companies, offering safaris with a scale of costs for killing lions, elephants, rhinos and giraffes, among others. Amongst very many other individuals and organisations, we complained to the NEC, and, after the raising of several petitions, these particular exhibitors were removed from the show.
Grouse Shooting and Mountain Hares
We asked First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham to set up a licensing scheme to control the killing of mountain hares and impose a close season on the shooting, copying in several MSPs who have spoken up for the protection of hares.
The Labour MSP Claudia Beamish and SNP MSP Ruth Maguire spoke out against grouse shooting and we wrote to thank them both.
Bull Calves for Export
We had previously written to the Scottish government on the export of bull calves, unwanted products of the dairy industry, which we reported on in the previous issue of this magazine. The minister responsible had replied, and mentioned there would be a review on the trade. This was some 12 months ago, so we requested an update. Though they have not yet published the review report, we received a detailed and thoughtful reply, showing that they were taking this matter as seriously as it merits. We extract from it the following:
(Mairi Gougeon MSP, Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment) “has personally undertaken a number of visits to dairy farms in different parts of the country from the large to the small, organic to non-organic, to find out more about the operation of the dairy industry and to see for herself how some individual farms deal with their bull calves.
If there is one thing she has learned from her visits so far, it is that there is no simple, single solution that can easily apply the whole dairy sector. Some farmers sell their calves at a loss, some have found an outlet for further production on other farms within the UK, and others are prevented from selling their calves on for export, depending on their contracts. Those who sell their calves on do so because they do not have the capacity to house and feed them, owing to increasing costs in the price of feed, which has doubled in recent times.
However, there are some positive initiatives currently being used and developed particularly in relation to breeding and Ms Gougeon commends the good progress that the wider dairy industry is making in developing strategies to reduce the number of surplus dairy bull calves. Key to that is the use of sexed semen, though a number of other innovative projects are being developed.
As well as visiting dairy farms Ms Gougeon has met with a number of organisations – NFUS, Quality Meat Scotland, One Kind, Compassion in World Farming – to discuss the many issues raised and how the Scottish Government goes about addressing them. The dairy industry is working to reduce the number of animals transported and to investigate home markets, and the Scottish Government fully supports this and will continue to engage with the sector, and wider interested parties, in this work.”
We repeated our usual request to Minister Josepha Madigan, copies to other ministers and the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, to stop licensing hare coursing, and also protested against wildlife killing in general, noting that this also impacted on so-called protected species.
The fur farming debate took place in July and we again wrote to the Taoiseach and Minister Michael Creed, supporting a phased-out ban on this cruel industry.
The Bill was proposed by an Independent TD and we were asked to contact all Fine Gael TDs as they were the main obstacle to success. As it became apparent that all opposition TDs were in favour of a ban, the government decided to draw up its own legislation (UPDATE to come)
Import of Kangaroo Products
Some countries of the EU are major importers of kangaroo fur, leather and meat, so we made an appeal to the EU to impose a complete ban on imports of kangaroo products.
Import of French Pheasant Chicks
Millions of day-old pheasant chicks are being imported into the country from France via Eurotunnel passenger trains, since the ferry companies will not carry them. We asked Eurotunnel to stop transporting them. They are in any case raised in very cruel conditions by the two companies which supply them.
The Gibraltar government has banned helium balloon releases, so we thanked the Chief Minister and Environment Minister, receiving a full response, including other positive environmental policies they were implementing.
Pigeons are being caught and killed in El Prat de Llobregat. We wrote to the local authority, which says that when the contract runs out they will stop this – but the animal welfare groups have no trust in this statement.
Compliments to vet
AVATMA, the anti- bullfight organisation of veterinarians, complimented an abattoir inspection vet for his compassion and vigilance and we added our appreciation too.
Tormenting heifers and calfs
Becerradas, the tormenting of heifers and calves, often by the young, are organised in many Spanish towns. We wrote to the mayor of El Espinar, near Segovia, to ask him to speak up against these horrific spectacles.
Bull fiestas and bull fights
In Portugal, on the occasion of the bull fiesta in Graciosa, the Açores, we wrote to complain to the municipal council which subsidises them.
We also wrote to Portuguese national broadcasting, asking them to stop showing bullfights on TV, as this is extremely unedifying for children.
We asked the Greek Prime Minister and ministers to phase out fur farming there.
Eleven Cypriot candidates for the EU Parliament had signed BirdLife Cyprus’ declaration to protect the environment and allied issues. We managed to contact four of them to express our appreciation. Politicians are not always easily accessible.
The plight of street dogs in many Romanian towns is well known and disturbing, as they implement a Trap & Kill policy. We wrote to two responsible officials at the EC asking for them to put pressure on the authorities to stop this and adopt a Trap-Neuter-Release policy instead. We also wrote to the Romanian Ambassador in London to take the matter up with his government.
Vladimir Putin supports release of orcas and belugas
In the last issue of Animal Spirit we featured the cetaceans – orcas and belugas – captive in Russia, taken by a commercial company to sell to Chinese aquaria. Vladimir Putin has involved himself in this matter – which in fact is illegal under Russian law – and is supporting their release.
We wrote again to the Ambassador in London, asking him to request that loopholes in the legislation be closed, and for the date for release of the mammals to be revealed. (UPDATE to come)
We thanked the Canadian Minister for drafting excellent marine protection measures, and, again, the Green Party leader, Elizabeth May, for working successfully for the ban on the captivity of cetaceans in Canada.
Rodeos – the Chilliwack event again – we repeated our request to the mayor to ban the worst excesses of these events, the chuck wagon races and use of electric bull prods.
We also asked the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association to fulfil their mission as vets and speak out strongly against rodeos.
Horse Drawn Carriages
In the city of Montréal, horse-drawn carriages are being banned, to be replaced by electric vehicles – and the horses will be bought from the drivers and put up for adoption to suitable homes. We thanked the Mayor and received a pleasant reply assuring us of her concern for animal welfare.
Cat declawing in New York
We thanked Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal for her bill to ban the de-clawing of cats in New York State, which could make it the first in the US to do so. We have not yet heard if this has succeeded.
We appealed yet again to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to have elephants Betty and Bo, in poor states of health, rescued from the travelling Garden Bros. Circus.
Coyote contests have been banned in the state of New Mexico – we appealed to the state of Arizona to do the same.
The latest update we have on this comes from Project Coyote in California:
“On June 21st, the Arizona Fish and Game Commission voted to ban killing contests for furbearing and predatory species including coyotes, bobcats and foxes. (The rule must still pass the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council before it is enacted.) While the rule has some loopholes that may allow some contests to continue, it will significantly crack down on these barbaric events in Arizona.”
These appalling contests are also being challenged in the states of Oregon – though the Bill for a ban was not passed this time – in Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.
We sent our thanks to the Oregon governor for banning the use of cyanide bombs, also known as M-44s, which will prohibit the use of these cruel devices to kill coyotes, foxes and other wildlife in Oregon.
We thanked the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for imposing a restriction for 2019 on the fishery in Hawai’i after a 17th. leatherback turtle was harmed in the course of this industry. Bans are already in place in California and Washington State.
Californian harbour seals
We follow with great interest the welfare of harbour seals who pup on the children’s beach at La Jolla, California. Each year, we have appealed to the Coastal Commissioners to renew ordnances to rope off the beach in the pupping season and this has happened, year by year. We are delighted to be informed that it has just been renewed for 10 years.
Happy the elephant
We appealed to the Bronx Zoo to have elephant Happy – a client of the NonHuman Rights Group – released to sanctuary.
We thanked the New Jersey Speaker who blocked the vote on a ban on shark finning.
Live animal exports for breeding
We wrote again to Australian ministers against the export of live animals for breeding purposes. They suffer en route equally as much as those exported for slaughter.
School possum killing contest
In New Zealand, the Drury School again organised a possum-killing contest to raise funds for charity. We protested again at this cruel activity on the grounds that it is completely unedifying for children to witness or be at all involved in this. However, as we mentioned in the previous issue of this magazine, as the NZ government implements a non-native species eradication policy, and encourages other bodies to join in, negative attitudes to such animals are well entrenched.
The ban on the export of elephants from Thailand has unfortunately been lifted. In support of the Performing Animals Welfare Society, we wrote to the Ambassador in London, asking him to request his government reinstates the ban.
Nepal – the five-yearly Gadhimai rites will take place again this October. You will remember that it involves the mass killing of huge numbers of animals offered to honour the goddess. For the past two events, our member group, Quaker Concern for Animals, joined with the Nepali animal welfare groups who are working tenaciously to end the slaughter.
We are now, working under the advice of our Hindu members and friends, planning to write once again to the authorities.
OVERALL RESULTS DURING THE PERIOD
Finally, we wrote some 35 letters or messages, but only received 8 replies this time.
WORLD ANIMAL DAY:
The World Animal Day Ambassador for Mexico sent us this:
“A few days ago I had the opportunity to visit a beautiful sanctuary of animals rescued from cruelty located in Maryland. It was a wonderful experience to have been with such special beings. I have always felt happy when I visit places like Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary where animals live free and have forgotten the wounds of a cruel past, again they can trust humans.
I urge you to appreciate the innocence of animals by treating them with the respect and the dignity that every living creature deserves. I also invite you to start planning a special event to celebrate World Animal Day on October 4. There’s still time to get organized. Do not miss the opportunity to celebrate the unique relationship we have with animals of other species.
On October 4th make a difference, do something special for the animals.”
~ Marian Hussenbux. August 2019
AIA’s campaigning activities continued – August 2018 to March 2019