In many parts of Asia, there are countless elephant tourist parks and camps. The sad and devastating reality is that this tourist-driven demand is fuelling a cruel and illegal trade in elephants. Once stolen from the wild, elephants are forced to endure the most profound cruelty- brutal training rituals employed to break the elephant's spirit and to install fear of humans.
It is estimated that over one billion animals are killed every year to supply the demand for fur. Many different species are used in the fur industry, including mink, foxes, raccoon dogs, domestic dogs and cats, seals, bobcats and beavers, but it is rabbits which are killed in the greatest numbers each year.
Fur is predominantly used in the fashion industry where millions of animals are killed to make coats, scarves and other accessories. Once considered a "luxury item", fur can now be so cheaply sourced, and more designers now see fur simply as another fabric to be added to items without thinking of the suffering caused to the animals from which it came.
How is fur produced?
Every year, millions of wild animals, including bobcats, coyotes, foxes, lynx, raccoons, and wolves, are trapped using steel-jaw leghold traps, body-gripping traps, and wire neck snares- all of which are inhumane devices that inflict great pain and suffering.
Historically, trapping used to supply most of the animals used in the fur trade, but in order to meet escalating demand, today's industry now relies on the mass factory farming of wild and domestic animals to produce the majority of the world's fur. It is estimated that 85% of fur now comes from intensive factory farms around the world, with an estimated 80% of global fur production now occurring in China where cheap labour and the absence of restrictive regulations make profit margins greater for producers. This has resulted in the suffering of tens of millions of animals each year.
The marine mammal captivity industry continues to threaten wild populations and inflicts cruelty and suffering on thousands of individual animals.
The marine mammal industry is big business and is driven by the attraction for people to see these amazing and iconic animals up close and, in many cases, to swim or interact with them. However, life in a marine park is totally unsuitable for these animals.
Live Capture from the Wild
Many dolphins and whales are caught from the wild to supply the captive marine mammal industry, presenting serious animal welfare and conservation concerns:
Once removed from their natural environment, cetaceans are transported to tanks and swimming pools which lack not only their families and social groups but also the open space to which they are accustomed. According to the Humane Society of the United States, a "spike in mortality also occurs every time dolphins are transported. Each time they are confined and shipped from one place to another, it is as traumatic as if they were being newly captured from the wild. The experience of being removed from water and restrained is apparently so stressful to dolphins that they never find it routine."
Life in a tank
A life in a tank is so far removed from a cetacean's natural environment that the effect this has on their mental and physical state is almost inconceivable. In the wild, cetaceans live in social groups, but in captivity many are kept alone and mothers and calves are regularly separated. They are intelligent and wide-ranging animals, swimming up to 60 miles a day, and can attain speeds up to 22 mph and dive to depths to over one thousand feet!
Captivity presents a lack of the social, visual and auditory stimuli of their natural environment. Tanks used to house dolphins and whales are "concrete" environments with no variety, no texture, no substance and no depth. The water is chemically-treated, meaning that no live fish or plants can be placed inside, thus leaving the tank barren, with no mental stimulation. These chemicals can potentially cause ulcers and skin lesions.
A life in captivity has a devastating effect on a cetacean's welfare, resulting in abnormal behaviours, injury, illness, and in some cases premature deaths.
 R. J. Small and D. P. DeMaster, "Acclimation to captivity: A quantitative estimate based on survival of bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions," Marine Mammal Science 11 (1995): 510–519
The combined aspects of performances, abusive training methods and inadequate housing conditions are causing severe animal suffering for many thousands of performing animals across Asia.
The welfare of captive wild animals used in circus performances is severely compromised by their training, performances, poor living conditions, and in a number of cases their capture from the wild.
The conditions in which circus animals are often housed are at best unsuitable, at worst barbaric and cruel. Animals are frequently held in close confinement, and social animals, such as elephants and macaques, are often housed in isolation The lack of appropriate social interaction, and the restricted freedom to perform many natural behaviours represent psychological and physical stressors for many performing animals.
The animals are released from the confinement of their barren cages for the few minutes of their "performance" and for training sessions. The training techniques adopted in order to force circus animals to perform unnatural tricks are brutal. Trainers often beat animals until they perform a desired trick, withhold food, and use force and fear to ensure animals continue to perform day after day.
During training and performances, the animals are exposed to regular human handling and excessive noise. Loud music used during animal performances, together with crowd noise, can cause stress and severe welfare problems.
To render some animals, such as tigers and lions, less dangerous to trainers, detoothing and declawing are common practices, causing severe and chronic pain and leads to an inability for the animals to perform natural behaviours.
Teaching animals to perform inappropriate tricks portrays them to the public in a humiliating manner, instead of showing their natural grace and beauty and thereby promoting empathy and respect.
Thousands of wild animals are kept in captivity in zoos and safari parks throughout Asia. Many are living in the most appalling of conditions, suffering hugely, both physically and psychologically.
It is not possible for any captive facility to provide for all the physical, behavioural and psychological needs of the wild animals they house. The conditions are artificial and do not allow animals to behave in a manner that is natural to them.. The level at which a captive wild animal facility can provide for an animal's needs depends upon a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, the level of knowledge and expertise with regards to behaviour management and enclosure design; the veterinary skills and facilities available; the level of staff training; the complexities of the species exhibited; the resources available; and the willingness of the management team to prioritise the needs of the animals over income generation or demands from the public.
Sadly, all too often, wild animals suffer in zoos and other wildlife holding facilities throughout the region- and the world- living in the most appalling conditions, with no enrichment or stimulation, causing both physical and psychological suffering, often displayed as stereotypic behaviour such as repetitive pacing, bar-licking, rocking and head-bobbing.
The following conditions cause severe welfare problems for captive wild animals
Animals in barren, cramped conditions in which they have neither the space nor the materials to carry out their natural behaviours;Enclosures where the animals have no opportunity to avoid the constant public gaze;Inadequate or unsuitable diets;Social animals, such as elephants, chimpanzees and macaques, are often housed in social isolation, in groups smaller than the average group size in the wild, or in unnatural groupings.Young animals removed from their mothers to be hand reared and displayed within animal nurseriesAnimals trapped from the wild to live a life in captivity
These conditions lead to many animals becoming stressed and this can have short-term as well as chronic long-term behavioural and physiological effects. Through time this can induce poor welfare by compromising health, altering brain function, and lowering life expectancy.
Many zoos operate as commercial enterprises, buying, selling and breeding animals, often without consideration for the individuals. Whilst zoos continue to adopt this approach, the interests of individual animals are likely to be compromised and in some cases animals' lives may be needlessly lost due to animals being deemed as surplus to the requirements of the institution and/or the breeding programme.
The Asia for Animals Coalition is delighted to share that The Oriental Circus has decided to cease using animals in its circus performances.
In support of International Cheetah Day (4th December) we bring you Animals Asia's edition of their series Amazing Animals. Please read and share this information.
In support of Orangutan Awareness Week (12th-18th November) we bring you Animals Asia's edition of their series Amazing Animals, all about the beautiful Orangutan and why we must protect them. Please read and share this information.