COVID-19 must be a “pivotal moment for change” for animals

Kolkata, Oct 4 (UNI) For millions of people around the world, lockdown during the global
Coronavirus pandemic has meant several months of isolation in the interests of protecting
public health, but for billions of animals caged and confined in factory farms, laboratories,
marine parks, roadside zoos, fur farms and circuses, lockdown lasts a lifetime.
Animals can spend all or much of their existence locked in cages, crates or tanks denied
sufficient space or stimulation, all for our entertainment, food habit, fashion whim or
scientific experiments.
That’s something animal protection organisation Humane Society International (HSI)
wants to change, and has teamed up with Belgian production company Fledge to create
a thought-provoking social media video urging global citizens to take action on behalf of
animals confined in a lifetime of lockdown.
With a soundtrack donated by Belgium-based band Svínhunder, the 120-second film
titled End the Lockdown for Animals asks the viewer to reflect on their own feelings of
frustration and isolation during the pandemic to relate to the billions of exploited animals
suffering in confinement.
Alokparna Sengupta, Director of Humane Society International/India, says, “Hundreds
of millions of farm animals across India spend their entire lives in extreme confinement,
such as egg laying hens who are kept in cages so small they can’t even stretch their wings.
Many more animals endure confinement as part of their captivity or exploitation, such as
dogs stolen for the dog meat trade who are bound and gagged in gunny sacks, or elephants
held captive for the tourist trade who spend hours chained by the leg.”
“Millions more animals only experience life through the bars of their cage, behind the closed
doors of a research laboratory. Our collective experience of lockdown during this COVID-19
global pandemic has surely given us a small insight into the frustration and monotony these
animals must endure and so must be a pivotal moment for change. Our powerful film asks us
all to harness that connection to make a change for animals and end their lifetime of lockdown.”
Fledge says, “As a film maker, your main goal is connecting your audience with a feeling,
message or idea. This unprecedented and global experience of being in quarantine has made
people realise the importance of living freely, and gave us a unique opportunity to tell this
parallel storyline.”
“We hope that distilling this shared experience into a two minute film will help people empathise
with all these animals that are suffering in lockdown, and hopefully act as a catalyst for change.”
As the COVID-19 lockdown begins to ease in some parts of the world, HSI offices across the
globe, in the United States, Canada, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Vietnam, Mexico,
South Africa, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, will be promoting the film across social media channels.
HSI has identified six key ways in which ordinary citizens and national governments can
implement changes to end a lifetime of lockdown for animals :
End factory farming, make compassionate food choices
Billions of farm animals globally suffer in factory farms. More than 403 million egg laying
hens are caged in battery cages in India alone where they cannot even stand up straight, turn
around or spread their wings. The majority of India’s eggs come from battery caged hens.
As well as being cruel, intensive confinement of farm animals is also linked to the generation
of more virulent diseases because of the sheer number of animals crowded together in
unsanitary environments.
HSI wants governments and corporations to end intensive confinement farming, and to
fund research to develop more plant-based technologies. HSI urges consumers to make
better food choices including more plant-based eating.
HSI/India’s dynamic plant-based solutions program works with institutions such as
universities, hospitals and catering companies to shift menus by directly replacing
animal-based meals with plant-based offerings. Our expert team provides free vegan
culinary trainings to institutional chefs, as well as recipe and menu development, to ensure
large-scale meat- and dairy-reduction initiatives.
Ban fur farming
An estimated 100 million animals globally die every year for fur fashion, most of them
oxes, minks and raccoon dogs confined in small, wire cages on factory farms. These
terrible conditions can create psychological disorders, causing animals to repetitively
pace and even self-mutilate, and at the end of their productive lives they are brutally
killed by gassing, anal electrocution and sometimes bludgeoning.
Fur farms are also breeding grounds for infectious diseases including the virus that
causes COVID-19 as evidenced by recent outbreaks on fur farms in the Netherlands
and Denmark.
HSI urges all fashion companies to go fur-free, and for governments to take action to
shut down this dirty trade. Countries such as the United States, Canada, China and Italy
should commit to end fur farming, and in the United Kingdom – which banned fur farming
in 2003 – HSI is campaigning for a fur sales ban.
Ban wild animals in circuses, roadside zoos, traveling shows and attractions
The Netflix series Tiger King exposed the world of big cat exploitation for entertainment,
but there are hundreds of similar wild animal encounter parks and sub-standard zoos
across the globe that exploit animals in captive situations that cannot hope to replicate
their natural and diverse habitat. For example, dolphinariums that keep cetaceans in small,
barren swimming pools can still be found in the United States, Japan, China, the UAE, as
well as many European countries like Greece and the Netherlands. Poor quality zoos are
also an animal welfare nightmare, keeping wild animals in deprived conditions which fail to
meet their complex physical and psychological needs, and sometimes even forcing them
to perform circus-like acts. HSI believes animals do not exist for human amusement and
so urges the public not to participate in these ‘attractions’ and to support HSI’s efforts to
strengthen laws against this abuse.
Say no to sad selfies!
Never pay to have your photo taken with wild animals such as parrots, monkeys or wild
cats such as tigers at temples in South East Asia or lion cubs at tourist facilities in South
Africa. These animals are often stolen from the wild or intensively bred from captive
mothers, and sedated with drugs to make them easier to handle. They can also be beaten,
and have their teeth or claws removed so that they can be used as photo props for tourists.
Thousands of tourists flock to South Africa each year, so by refusing to patronise these
establishments, we can all play a vital role in protecting big cats from captive cruelty.
Ban dog meat farms in Asia
An estimated 30 million dogs suffer and die for the dog meat trade across Asia. In South
Korea, around 2 million dogs are reared for meat on farms where they spend their lives in
barren cages, exposed to the elements and with no veterinary care; many dogs suffer from
eye infections, skin diseases, and painful pressure sores. In India, dogs are mainly stolen
for the meat trade, and once in the hands of the traders they will have their legs tied with rope,
their bodies stuffed into gunny bags, and their mouths tightly bound to be transported and
traded at markets. Most people across Asia don’t regularly eat dog meat if at all, and there
is growing and vocal opposition to the cruel trade. HSI works co-operatively with dog
farmers in South Korea to permanently close dog meat farms, and campaigns in India and
beyond for a ban on the brutal dog meat industry.
Replace animal testing with modern, non-animal research techniques
More than 115 million animals suffer and die in laboratory experiments globally, kept
behind bars in small steel cages, in sterile, windowless rooms, and many are subjected
to stressful, invasive procedures. From fabric dyes and painkillers to paints and pesticides,
thousands of animals can be killed to test one new chemical, without pain relief. But it
doesn’t have to be that way.
Modern, non-animal research methods offer a more humane and scientifically relevant way
to predict human responses in the real-world. HSI works with scientists globally to increase
the use of powerful new technologies, such as engineered multi-organ bio-chips that simulate
human physiology, and urges governments to prioritise 21st century techniques to accelerate
a transition to faster, cheaper, more reliable science.


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