Have you met AnimaNaturalis?

Have you met AnimaNaturalis?

16 March 2022
Every month, we interview one of our member organisations about their work, main battles and achievements for animals. This month we have the pleasure to interview Francisco Vásquez, Founder of AnimaNaturalis.

Tell us about your organisation?

AnimaNaturalis was founded in 2003 with the main objective of fighting for the rights of all animals in Spain and the rest of the Hispanic countries. Until then, little was said in these countries about animal protection, despite the fact that it is fundamental to the moral development of any nation. 

Our fight has focused on ending shows that use animals, such as circuses and bullfighting. In 2015 we succeeded in ending the use of animals in circuses throughout Mexico and in 2010 we achieved the inconceivable: banning bullfighting in Catalonia (we then tried to repeat this process in the Balearic Islands, but the Constitutional Court of Spain intervened) . 

We also try to promote a vegan lifestyle through our dedicated website Hazteveg.com, which dates back to 2004. 

We conduct secret investigations on animal breeding and cruel animal shows, as well as on greyhound racing and "rehalas" (shelters where dogs used for hunting suffer). 

We believe that animals do not belong to us to be eaten, used as test tubes in laboratories or as material to make clothes, they are not for our entertainment and should not die for our pleasure. 

In which countries do you work?

Currently, mainly in Spain, Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela. We also have representatives in Chile and Ecuador, and soon we will re-open a presence in Argentina.

Tell us more about you and your role?

My name is Francisco Vásquez, I am 50 years old and my university degree indicates that I am a journalist. I am the founder of AnimaNaturalis with my Mexian counter-part Leonora Esquivel.

My great motivation has always been justice and the struggle to defend all those who are subjugated and suffer because of selfishness and meanness. When I discovered the animal cause at the very beginning of this century, I could not look away. It is my passion and my calling in life. 

I was very lucky to meet Aida Gascón, the current Director of AnimaNaturalis in Spain, who became my perfect partner in the fight and with whom we have set the organisation on the road to development, professionalism and efficiency. 

Thanks to their energy and enthusiasm, we have been able to turn the dream of a few into a reality that affects the lives of hundreds of thousands of animals in Spain and Latin America.

When and why did you join Eurogroup for Animals?

Since the creation of the European Union, we have realised that no real change for animals would be made if we did not work from Brussels and in coordination with other organisations in the region. 

For years we have cooperated with groups such as PETA (UK and Germany), ANIMAL (Portugal) and CAS International (Netherlands), but we have always aspired to be part of something bigger like Eurogroup for Animals. 

It was only after collaborating on the End The Cage Age ECI that we realised we had what it took to contribute to the European context and project the achievements of other countries into the reality of Spain and, why not, the other countries where we work.

What are your organisations main achievements?

2021 was a very special year, but we were able to respond quickly to the opportunities that the pandemic presented. Many animal abuse industries have been affected, including bullfighting and hunting. 

We successfully lobbied the government to ensure that bullfighting did not receive any special support or subsidies. We launched the #NoBullfightingBailout campaign and succeeded in ensuring that no state agency offered public money to save this macabre activity. 

We also took the opportunity to launch an investigation into the use of greyhounds in racing and hunting, where we were able to obtain videos and images that have sparked and are still sparking debate about the dogs used in this practice. 

Since day one, we have accompanied the Directorate General for Animal Rights in the preparation and defence of the next law on the protection and rights of animals that will soon enter the Spanish Congress. In this law, and for the first time in Spanish history, the welfare of animals considered as mere working tools is defended. 

In the same vein, during 2021 we have carried out extensive research on intensive farming, which will be published in March this year, but which we have already mentioned in some media. In this way, we have contributed to the debate that currently exists in Spain on the future of factory farms and the welfare of the animals that suffer there.

How can people support you?

Our work is ongoing and we are making great efforts to make it more visible. As we do not receive any kind of subsidy, we are supported by individual donations from compassionate people in Spain and throughout Europe. 

Words to live by?

When the children of the future will watch documentaries about how we treated animals in our time, they will ask us: where were you when this happened? what did you do to avoid it? We will proudly say where we were and what we were doing for them."