Animals Asia urges UK government to not back away from law to protect wild animals abroad

07 April 2022

The UK Government has reportedly scrapped plans to publish a Bill that would protect and save thousands of wild animals across the world.

The Government had promised to publish an Animals Abroad Bill to tackle animal cruelty and support conservation efforts overseas.

The Bill was going to ‘include bans on the trade in hunting trophies… and advertising of experiences overseas, like elephant rides, that are cruel to animals.’

Many of these elements were promised in the Conservative’s 2019 Manifesto, and 92 percent of the Conservative party and the Queen supported the Bill.

But in a baffling change of heart, the government has ‘paused’ the Bill and is ‘taking no further evidence on (the) matter.’

Animals Asia has joined forces with other animal welfare organisations including Four Paws, World Animal Protection, Compassion In World Farming and Humane Society UK and signed a letter to the UK government urging them to reinstate the Bill.

Dave Neale, Animals Asia’s Animal Welfare Director said, “Tour operators in the UK still advertise cruel and exploitative activities such as elephant riding and animal shows. This not only fuels the belief that this kind of activity is harmless to animals, it feeds into industries that exploit animals and force them to perform in ways that are unnatural and harmful.”

He continued, “The only way to stop the exploitation of wild animals is to stop the advertising and selling of these abhorrent practices. And that is why we need the UK government to take a bold and strong stand on this issue as promised.”

Read the letter written by Save The Asian Elephants

We are concerned by reports of Government abandoning its manifesto commitments to an Animals Abroad Bill. Quite apart from the welcome promise of an end to trophy hunting imports, the Bill’s other leading measures are greeted across politics and the whole country.

These include a ban on domestic advertising of venues abroad where elephants and other endangered species - big cats, apes, bears, dolphins - suffer extreme brutality in tourism, the UK market taking a shameful lead.  

Crucially the Bill will steer the market towards ethical tourism, throwing a lifeline to many endangered species and countering claims that cruel exploitation by rides, tricks, games and hunting provide important revenue to target countries.

The one thousand and more UK based operators promoting this cruelty contribute nothing to protect humans or animals at these venues. Nor apparently have any ethical improvements been made during pandemic downtime. 

It is in Government’s own interests to take a principled lead over other nations and introduce the Bill, restoring a fair claim to be showing the way on animal welfare.

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