LONDON, September 18, 2023 — In a significant move, the Animals (Low-Welfare Activities Abroad) Act was enacted into law in the United Kingdom on September 18th, solidifying the nation's global leadership in animal welfare standards, both domestically and internationally.
This groundbreaking legislation, spearheaded by Angela Richardson MP and Lord Black of Brentwood with government support, empowers the UK government to institute a ban on advertising and sales related to specific unethical animal activities conducted abroad. These activities include the captivity or confinement of animals, cruel training methods, exploitation for selfies, and practices such as riding, drugging, and de-clawing.
The motivation behind this act stems from mounting evidence that animals used for tourist attractions often endure harsh treatment to ensure their compliance. A 2015 study by Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit revealed that up to 550,000 animals worldwide suffer for the sake of tourist entertainment.
One of the focal points of concern is the brutal training methods used to subdue Asian elephants, making them suitable for interactions with tourists and participation in unnatural activities like playing football, painting, offering rides, and excessive bathing.
Animal Welfare Minister Lord Benyon emphasised the necessity of this legislation, stating, "We know that some foreign tourist attractions often subject animals like elephants too cruel and brutal training methods. The Animals (Low-Welfare Activities Abroad) Act is an important step in our commitment to ensure high animal welfare standards both here in this country and abroad."
Conservative MP Angela Richardson expressed her enthusiasm for the Act, highlighting its global significance. She stated, "I am thrilled that the Animals (Low Welfare Activities Abroad) Act has received Royal Assent this week. This legislation is a world first and will work towards greater protection of vulnerable animals in low welfare settings from being exploited as tourist experiences."
Duncan McNair, CEO of Save The Asian Elephants, celebrated the Act's passage, acknowledging its potential to protect not only endangered and vulnerable species but also the safety of humans involved in these activities. McNair stated, "Britain can take pride in this world-first law, and we must encourage the world to follow suit whilst time remains for so many beleaguered species."
The Act, applicable in England and Northern Ireland, grants the government the authority to ban the advertising and sale of these cruel experiences through secondary legislation, safeguarding these special creatures from unnecessary harm. Reputable and responsible tour operators are expected to adhere to guidelines established by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) that classify certain activities as unacceptable.
The Animals (Low-Welfare Activities Abroad) Act signifies the UK's determination to extend its high standards of animal welfare to global settings and curb unethical practices that exploit animals for the sake of tourism.
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