Photo credit: Blood Lions
This month, World Animal Protection has published two reports, one exposing degrading performances and activities in the world’s zoos and aquariums, and the other revealing the expanding industry of big cats being bred and killed for their body parts.
The first report, ‘The show can’t go on’, was produced in cooperation with Change for Animals Foundation and exposes the demeaning practices to which wild animals are subjected in facilities linked to the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). As the global umbrella association of zoos and related facilities, WAZA is expected to demonstrate high animal welfare standards and guidelines, accompanied by robust monitoring system. In a study that included more than 1,200 WAZA venues, 75% were found to offer at least one type of animal–visitor interaction requiring cruel training techniques. Among other demeaning activities, World Animal Protection discovered gladiator-style shows including big cats performing to loud music, dolphins used as surfboards and primates clothed in nappies driving on scooters. The report contains the list of venues to be avoided until they drastically improve the welfare of kept animals.
The second report, ‘Trading cruelty’, documents cruel activities that fuel the traditional medicine market in Asia. There is an expanding industry of big cats being bred and killed for their body parts, before which they subjected to various forms of cruelty, such as a life spent in huge, industrial-style big cat farms with row upon row of tiny cells. Besides the consumer demand, the increase in these practices came after the World Health Organisation officially recognized traditional medicine as a viable treatment option in 2018. While consumers are, as shown in various research, open to non-animal alternatives, WHO’s endorsement gave way to national governments to lift existing bans if it shows to be profitable. World Animal Protection’s research warns against this as well as unveiling the bad management practices at farming facilities.