Sadly, in the eyes of many people around the world, China remains a country still more synonymous with animal cruelty than animal activism.
However when Animals Asia launched a competition for the best images to use as posters to protest against animal performances the response was overwhelming. Not just in terms of huge number of entries or the wonderful designs that amazed judges but also the obvious, heartfelt emotion behind the vast majority of the work.
Animals Asia Animal Welfare Director Dave Neale said:
“We received 2,153 entries from 2,000 participants and going through them, design by design was spellbinding. The quality of the work was outstanding and the imagery intensely moving. Seeing animal performance from the point of the animal is a common thread throughout - and the empathy displayed in the designs is quite startling.
“Alongside the obvious talent which is mesmerising, what is clearly evident is how this represents not just a growing movement but also a widespread awakening. If animal welfare is in its infancy in China then it’s certainly maturing fast. Like China’s own commercial and entrepreneurial growth it is being fired by increased levels of creativity and imagination. It’s impressively dynamic and, as a result, the message is being more widely spread and acted upon than ever before.
“You just wouldn’t get these images from anywhere else in the world. People talk of animal welfare being a western import - well these designs are pure China and are all the more powerful for that.”
The theme for the posters was “Not Born to Perform” and the judging panel including representatives from the world of design, zoo keeping and education. Also, sitting alongside Animals Asia’s founder Jill Robinson on the judging panel, was Chen Shaohua, responsible for the Beijing Olympic Games logo.
An additional layer of voting took place online with over 10,000 participants. A total of seven posters won prizes. A selection of the posters will also be used to promote opposition to animal performances online and in cities across China in subways and train stations.
Animals Asia founder Jill Robinson added:
“The images are poignant and thought provoking and yet, all the shortlisted entries manage to achieve this without using the kind of distressing images that those of us working in animal welfare have become sadly used to. The shocking truth comes from the concepts and from the obvious empathy with performing animals. The best of the images stay with you for days.
“I have no doubt that these images will have China talking and people thinking - not least because they are a wonderful representation of the thoughts of a new generation. A generation, that if these posters are any indication, are as talented as they are sympathetic and sensitive to what needs to change. They also want to play their part in that change.”