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COMMENTARY: Disappointing decision on British Animals Abroad Bill

The Animals Abroad Bill, as originally agreed upon in cabinet, was meant to protect animals in foreign countries from pressures such as tourism, trophy hunting and cruel husbandry practices. The bill was proposed after pressure from organisations such as the RSPCA, the Born free Foundation and World Animal Protection. In fact, in the Animal Welfare Action Plan, the Government has pledged to “protect animals abroad” by banning imports of trophies from endangered species, as well as the advertisement of overseas activities involving animals cruelty.

In the last few days it has however become clear that the bill was effective blocked by a few people, who subsequently refused to discuss their reasoning for this blockade. Jacob Rees-Mogg, Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency of the United Kingdom, and Commons leader Mark Spencer have both refused to take part in discussions surrounding their decisions regarding this bill, leaving animal welfare organisations stumped as to why anyone would go against such a small but important step towards putting pressure on animal tourism abroad.

performing tigers, thailand
Tigers forced to perform at Sri Racha Tiger zoo | For Tigers, 2018

The focus of the last few days has been in large on the banning of advertisements of elephant parks known to use torturous methods in order to train and discipline their elephants. The practices in question include but are not limited to stabbing, the use of short chains for long periods of time as well as the deprivation of sleep, food and water. In effect, nothing short of extreme cruelty. As an organisation working towards better welfare conditions for captive tigers, we at For Tigers are extremely disappointed in this lack of integrity by British politicians. Not only is it difficult to identify any negatives to passing such a bill, it is close to impossible to imagine why anyone would be against it.

We believe that the passing of such bills, in countries that are home to large amounts of tourists travelling to South East Asia in particular, could be an important first step towards public awareness of questionable and cruel practices, as well as working as an incentive for facilities to change their practices in order to remain of interest to wealthy tourists. We hope that the British government will re-asses this bill in short order, and not let a few indifferent men with questionable motives stand in the way of progress.

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