What is animal law?

Animal law protects the rights of all non-human animals. It is much the same as any other law and is designed to help the welfare of animals, particularly those used in research projects or in entertainment, which are two areas where for a long time many animals were harmed or abused. Pressure from animal rights activists has in a lot of cases led to these laws being in place today.

Approach to animal law

There are a number of ways in which animal law is approached. When it comes to what’s best for animals’ safety and rights it has to be decided by humans as, obviously, it’s impossible to get feedback from animals about it. Animal experts and legal experts have discussed factors, both known and hypothetical, that could be considered to violate an animal’s rights to determine what legally can be considered cruelty and what steps needed to be taken to combat it.

Animal law has an impact on our lives without us even being aware. It comes into play if a couple divorce and there is a custody battle over a pet; in cases of veterinary malpractice; discrimination cases by landlords who do not allow pets in their buildings; and wrongful death or injury caused to a pet.

Animal law organisations

In America the Animal Legal Defense Fund was established in 1979 as the first body to promote animal law which led to a lot of states forming animal law committees and has since given animals more rights.

In Europe there are animal lawyers such as Antoine Goetschel in Switzerland who notably campaigned to ensure strict Swiss animal protection laws were upheld and enforced. Nowadays  international animal welfare organizations are all around the world and trying to protect all animals. Mostly from human activities. 

Animal law in education

Animal law is becoming as important as any other kind of law and has been taught in over 120 law schools across the United States, including the prestigious Harvard and Georgetown. Seven Canadian law schools also teach animal law.

Animal law is also taught in Australia, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Many papers and books have been penned by prominent figures within the world of animal law and it is a fast growing branch of the legal system.

Activism and animal law

For many years animal activists were dismissed by a lot of people as “hippy do-gooders who should get real jobs”, but they were always fighting for a legitimate cause. Perhaps their methodology was a little skewed years ago, though. Breaking into laboratories and causing criminal damage before allowing animals to escape, often condemning them to a worse fate was a very gung-ho approach. In more recent times animal activism involved peaceful protest and dialogue which has helped to advance the law.

So successful have animal activists been , in fact, that animals are no longer recognised as property and are legally recognised as beings in many countries.

In Switzerland the constitution was changed to this effect in 1992 and Germany became the first European Union country to adopt the same change ten years later. Canada also soon followed suit.

Five different species of ape in New Zealand are now protected by law and cannot be used in any kind of research or testing following a legal change in 1999. The United Kingdom was something of a trailblazer here and had already enforced the same ban as early as 1986.

In the US attempts are being made by the Great Ape Project to see gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and bonobos granted a status of being in a “community of equals” with humans. This would give apes the same rights as humans such as protecting their liberty and prohibiting any form of torture to be used against them.

Animal rights activism has also led to the punishment and closure of some unethical zoos and it’s no coincidence that nowadays there are fewer circuses with performing animals either.

Other areas protected by animal law

There are many aspects of law regarding pets, mostly cats and dogs. There are strict rules for keeping an animal as a pet, including ensuring it is disease free and kept away from anything which is potentially harmful. There are rules about transportation of pets too, including the important rule that if they are left in a car on a hot day that the windows must be partially open to ensure circulation of cooler air. Many people have been successfully prosecuted for mistreating animals in this way or leaving dogs outside during the winter.

Stables and riding schools are properly regulated to ensure animals are well looked after and aren’t abused or exploited in any way.

Any animal boarding establishments such as kennels or catteries are subject to inspection and must have the appropriate authority approved licence in order to be able to operate.

Performing animals are still allowed, but the conditions in which they are kept much reach a high standard and absolutely no cruelty of any kind is tolerated. Thankfully the days of bears being chained up in  confined space and beaten with sticks are now long gone.

There are laws governing the breeding and sale of animals which helps to prevent so-called puppy farms and people who are exploiting animals for financial gain.

There are of course people who will try and exploit animals in some way still, but the law makes it difficult for them to hide nowadays. Dog fighting and hare coursing are still rife in certain areas, but heavy fines and prison terms for animal cruelty have captured many culprits and scared countless more from doing it.

Animal law is definitely a good thing as no individual has or ever really had the right to enslave animals, mistreat them, abuse them, use them for sport or test cosmetic products in their eyes. Mankind has long taken everything the planet has to offer for their own use and entertainment and animal law is one obstacle put in place that will hopefully halt the eradication of many species of animal.

If animals could talk, I’m sure they’d be very grateful for having their own law.

The economic importance of hunting

Many people see hunting as a totally unnecessary bloodsport which should be outlawed. On the other side of the argument are those who enjoy hunting and who like to spend their spare time engaging in it in a completely legal way.

What both sides need to know is how beneficial hunting can be to an economy.

The money spent by hunters and on hunting helps a lot of other people earn a living as well as providing tax money for governments.

Hunting by numbers

In the US there are approximately 16 million people who hunt, which is around 6% of the population. That figure is incredibly high when you think how many people will be too young to hunt or too old to hunt and when you think of how many people live in large urban areas where it will be a drive of several hours to the nearest hunting ground. There are in fact more Americans that hunt than those who go bowling, which is a staggering amount as we’ve all seen how busy bowling alleys can often be.

Job creation

In America it is estimated that hunting has helped to create over 700,000 jobs all across the country which wouldn’t exist were it not for the sport. That’s a very impressive figure by any stretch and it has also been estimated that the 14 million US hunters spend approximately $22 billion each year. This is such a high figure that if hunting were a business it would rank in 35th place on the Fortune 500.

Who benefits?

Wherever hunters spend their money, someone’s business booms. This can be from the obvious such as guns, bullets and any clothing worn by hunters to the cars they use to drive there, including the extra petrol they will use on hunting trips. There are also the rest stops and eateries along the way which hunters will patronise. And of course there are hotels or cabins that hunters may rent on longer trips that all generate income for somebody too.

It is a pastime which benefits a great deal of businesses and there is one even bigger beneficiary.

The environment

It might sound strange that killing animals for sport benefits the environment in any way, but it truly does. Hunters pay tax on their sport and require various permits and this money, estimated at around $8 million per day, is funnelled into conservation projects and means that hunting is not just a self-sustaining industry, but it has led to an increase in the number of some animals. For example, since the early 1900s the number of white tiled deer has increased by 31,000,000 and ducks have increased by somewhere in the region of 46,000,000 thanks to investment in conservation projects.

Healthy habitats are fostered and other initiatives which benefit everyone have cone from this money. Everyone needs water, right? Well, if it wasn’t for the money generated by hunting drinking water might well not be so clean. Effectively this means that the big business of hunting has positive consequences for everyone.

It does however create quite a paradox in that if animals weren’t hunted there would be a negative impact on the ecosystem because there would be an over-population, but it’s environmental initiatives that have increased the numbers to such a level. The cycle is needed to continue as one benefits the other in its own way and keeps nature – albeit a man made version of nature – ticking over quite nicely.

The growth of hunting

The number of people who participate in hunting continues to grow each year. There are hunters registered across the full range of the age spectrum and while it has long been a traditionally male pastime, more women are taking it up. It is now estimated that approximately 11% of hunters are female which isn’t very high at all, but it’s significantly higher than it once was and that number is predicted to grow.

The good news is the growth of hunting leads to more and more money going back into the economy in a variety of ways. Many hunters are reasonably affluent – they might not be multi millionaires, but they aren’t on the fringes of poverty either – and they aren’t shy of spending a good bit of money on their trips. This is beneficial for all involved as well as the environment of course and as the trend is set to continue, so will the spending and revenue made in taxes both increase.

Quite simply put, the more people who hunt, the better it is for a country’s economy.

Angling

Hunting isn’t just shooting animals, it also covers fishing which is arguably the most popular hunting pastime. Those who cite angling as their favourite pastime in America total almost 50 million, which is over 18% of the population. Angling licenses generate a total of $686 million a year in the United States, which is a very large contribution to government coffers.

The approximate money spent on hunting and fishing by each household in the US each year is $33.63. That’s not much, you might think, but remember this includes every household not, just those who hunt or fish. This equates to somewhere close to $2,000 being spent by each hunter every single year – an expensive hobby, but one which they are happy to pay for.

Hunting is self-sustaining in America thanks to the way it is managed. With revenue from hunters going straight back into environmental projects, animals have increased in number and have better habitats. Environmental projects also include forestry initiatives so it is ensured that new trees are planted when old ones are felled. This management makes sure that the number of trees always remains high. Clean water is also maintained thanks to money from hunting.

The number of jobs created and the amount of tax revenue raised by hunting is very impressive. So impressive that hunting is a big business that needs to be recognised for its contributions to the economy.

Some interesting facts about lions

The lion is known as the King of the Jungle, a majestic and fearsome creature. We might not all ever get the chance to see one face to face and that’s probably a good thing as they aren’t really as cute as they same and they don’t want to be petted like their smaller, domestic cousins. Behind the safety of strong glass at a zoo or on a nature documentary on television might be the closest most of us get and that’s much safer. Here are some facts about the biggest of big cats:

Social animals

Lions, unlike other big cats, are very social beasts in contrast with some of their counterparts. A pride of lions is generally made up of around 15, many more than most other predators. They interact and work together as a cohesive unit, each with a valuable and important role to play.

Clearly-defined roles

Female lions take care of hunting for food while males defend the pride and their territory, in a role reversal of the norm of the animal kingdom. The male still has the pleasure of eating first despite not killing the prey himself as he is considered the most important, particularly the alpha of the pride. The hierarchy within the pride is fundamental to its success.

Protected species

Despite their ferocity, lions are no match for some predators, namely hunters with guns. They have been hunted not to the brink of extinction, but not too far from it. It wasn’t only the colonialists of hundreds of years ago who killed them for sport and trophies, it still goes on today despite some people’s better efforts to stop it. A great deal of the animals’ habitat has been decimated within the last century or so and they are now on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.

Locations

Lions are now fundamentally only found in Africa having previously roamed in Asia and Europe as well. Sadly they’ve been hunted to extinction in Europe and captured for zoos throughout the world. The only exception to lions existing in the wild outside of Africa is a National Park at Sasan-Gir in India which has around 400 of the animals and was set up as a conservation project in an attempt to protect the now endangered species.

Loudness

A lion’s roar can be deafening and will strike fear into the heart of man or beast. The ferocious sound can carry for an impressive distance of up to five miles.

Speed and distance

Lions may not be the fastest of the big cats, but they can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour in short bursts, enabling them to chase down and attack many animals incapable of such impressive sprinting ability. They are also capable of leaping distances of up to 36 feet which is also very intimidating.

King of the Jungle

King of the Jungle is actually a complete misnomer. Lions are not found in jungles at all and live on plains or grasslands. The origins of the nickname are unknown and it could well have derived from the ignorance of continental Africa by colonial types many years ago or even from popular Disney film The Jungle Book.

Age

A lion’s age is difficult to determine accurately, but as a general rule of thumb  a lion with darker mane will be older than one which has a lighter mane.

Light footed

For such a large, heavy animal, a lion can creep around quite effectively and at speed too. This is aided by the fact that their heels don’t touch the ground as they walk, making them very effective predators.

Sleepy

The song The Lion Sleeps Tonight is more factual than you might think, although it isn’t strictly confined to the hours between sunset and sunrise. Lions can spend up to 20 hours a day sleeping, hardly surprising given the running and hunting they spend their time on for the other 4 hours.

Lions are truly spectacular animals. Nobody knows how long we’ll still have them to share a planet with and they really should be respected. It would be a travesty if they were driven to extinction by the activities of man and it must be halted if possible.

Should animals be kept in a zoo?

Zoos are a great family day out and a tradition which dates back many years. Many people love to visit a zoo and see all the animals, but yet some people would rather seem them all closed. Why?

Arguments for zoos

The main argument for having zoos is the welfare of the animals. While the initial zoo animals were often captured and forced into captivity, their offspring wasn’t. Animals born in captivity would more likely than not not survive if they were released back into the wild, even though they would possess the normal instincts of survival and they can live in the comfort of being neither the hunter nor the huntee. In fact they are well catered for both with food and medical attention when needed and can live long and peaceful lives.

Most zoos have an excellent breeding programme and ensure that there will always be animals to look at. If they have too many of one kind of animal they can sell them to another reputable zoo where the animals will continue to be safe.

Zoos are also a great educational tool and have inspired many children to become vets or work in an animal based field. In fact being in the close proximity of animals has been proven to make people happier and can even be used in therapy for people with certain illnesses.

The actions of many zoos have helped the continuation of a number of endangered species which might otherwise have been wiped out.

Most countries in the developed world have strict laws with very high standards for the welfare of animals. This has led to fewer animals being mistreated in captivity either in substandard zoos or travelling circuses.

Arguments against zoos

The main argument on this side is that it’s unnatural and the animals are effectively imprisoned. While they live longer lives they are held against their will and a lot of the natural urges they would have in the wild are suppressed. No enclosure is as big as the Savannah and while they can exercise it’s not enough for many species. Having food given to them is an example of this. In the wild they would need to fend for themselves and removing this need can be said to impede the mental abilities of the animals. Confined animals often suffer from boredom and stress, so their lives aren’t as happy as many people might believe.

Buying or selling animals from or to other zoos, however reputable, means a long journey. After al there aren’t zoos in every town. Long journeys in an extremely confined space are very stressful for animals as they don’t understand what’s happening. It isn’t unusual for an animal to die in transit between zoos.

Not all zoos are as good as others. A lot of zoos will have animals which are well nourished and healthy, but some have smaller enclosures and poorer animal care and the animals are not in good shape at all.

Most popular zoo animals such as lions, tigers or elephants are from much warmer climates. There’s a good reason why they generally aren’t found in northern Europe – it’s too cold for them. Conversely it’s too warm for penguins and polar bears who come from Arctic or Antarctic conditions.

Stopping the eradication of endangered species might seem like a good thing, but it’s meddling in nature. If animals die out there is often a reason and it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with human intervention. Saving some species might be seen to be “making up” for ones that humans have hunted to extinction, but many believe it’s wrong to play God either way.

Whether you like them or not zoos are here to stay, at least in the foreseeable future. There are very convincing arguments both for and against zoos and it is a subject which really divides people’s opinions. It’s one of those situations where you need to decide for yourself what you think is right.

Most of the money zoos make goes towards the upkeep of the animals, but if you’re against zoos you can always support an animal charity. Either way some animals somewhere are being cared for.

How to stop the hunting of lions

Not many of us will be plagued by lions. In fact if you’re in Europe or North America the only place you’re really likely to see a lion is in the zoo (mountain lions aside for some North American residents). But in Africa there are a great number of them. There would be an even greater number too if it weren’t for so-called trophy hunters or poachers.

One incident which gained a lot of media attention was the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe by an American trophy hunter. Cecil’s death might not have been in vain though, is it helped highlight the growing problem of trophy hunting and poaching.

A lion’s life

There are estimated to be around 20,000 lions living in Africa, compared to a much more impressive number in the hundreds of thousands as little as two hundred years ago. The lions’ environment has been impacted by man and they sadly have much less space to roam than they did back then.

Zimbabwe

Surprisingly trophy hunting is perfectly legal in Zimbabwe, but there are always unscrupulous types who will try and cash in and the death of Cecil was one such example. People had been paid for “permits” which weren’t legitimate and a number of laws were broken along the way.

Scores of lions are shot each week outside of trophy hunting by natives who are protecting their livestock or families from them – we must remember that we encroached on their natural habitat and not the other way around.

There are also many more casualties and fatalities thanks to home made snares and barbaric traps that are laid to catch a number of different predators. This can be doubly devastating for lions as many of them are caught by these trips, but so is a lot of their prey.

Stop trophy hunting

This would be the easy answer, but is difficult while it remains legal. Lobbying an African country’s government is unlikely to get a law changed, but many take matters into their own hands. They do this on social media. Publicly shaming trophy hunters by sharing their photographs and encouraging people to lambast them for their actions might work in some instances, but it really amounts to cyber bullying.

A real solution

Big cat conservation is luckily taken very seriously by some people. There are now people in Zimbabwe and across Africa who work for such organisations and aim to protect lions along with  people and their livestock.

They are using electronic collars to track the animals and with a series of cameras and sensors they know where they are at all times. If a lion gets to close to someone’s livestock or home, those employed by the conservation organisation will go and chase them away.

It’s a tiring and relentless job, but it keeps animals and humans safe from harm without any killing.

The presence of conservationists also cuts right down on illegal poaching and so the numbers of lions will hopefully stop dwindling. In part of Namibia this practice helped reduce annual lion deaths from 20 to just one in the space of a year.

Sadly Africa is a huge continent which is impossible to police effectively for the safety of lions and poaching and trophy hunting still remain problems. The problems are smaller than they once were, but more financial help for conservation organisations is needed to eradicate it completely.

Education is also needed, along with tougher fines and prison sentences for those caught breaking the law for hunting purposes.

Some people would happily kill the last lion and have their photo taken with it and if attitudes can’t be changed it will happen sooner than we all think.

10 Most Endangered Animals in the World

Due to a combination of environmental factors and mankind’s intervention a number of animals have seen their numbers dwindle to alarmingly low levels. To be classed as endangered the number needs to be so low that extinction could be imminent.

The following animals are so endangered that there are believed to be fewer than 100 left of each species in the world.

Vaquita porpoise

This species of porpoise can be found off the coast of California. There are believed to be fewer than 60 of them left after they were decimated by the illegal fishing of the also endangered totoaba fish. In a situation reminiscent of the dolphin/tuna problem, many of the porpoises have become caught in fishing nets.

There is a plan tom ave the vaquita porpoise from extinction by breeding them in a sanctuary.

Yangtze giant softshell turtle

These turtles can be found in Vietnam and China and it is thought there are as few as three of thee left now. Hunting, pollution and decimation of the turtles’ habitat are all contributing factors to this sad story.

There are a couple of Yangtze giant softshell turtles in a zoo in China and the female was artificially inseminated in 2015. Sadly of the 65 eggs she then laid not one of them was fertile.

There was a fourth Yangtze turtle remaining but it recently died of old age and was believed to be over 100 years old.

Chinese crested tern

It was thought that this species of bird had become extinct already in the 1930s and the belief remained this way until one was spotted at a point during the 1980s in Taiwan. The destruction of the tern’s habitat has driven numbers down to around 30 now and they are only found in certain areas of Asia.

Northern white rhino

This animal has been hunted close to extinction and there are now only three of them left in the world. The last three northern white rhinos are under armed protection at a reserve in Kenya. Attempts to breed the rhinos have failed and it is thought that none of the final three are able to reproduce at all meaning this beast which once roamed throughout Chad, Uganda andd Congo will shortly be extinct.

Hainan gibbon

As with many animals on this list, mankind’s destruction of animal habitats is again the root cause for putting these small primates at risk. There are now only 15 – 20 of these gibbons remaining, all of which live in a protected reserve in their native China. Within this small group of remaining gibbons there are now only three social groups. It is hoped they will breed and prolong the species’ existence.

Santa Catarina guinea pigs

These guinea pigs have a limited habitat which is only four hectares on the Brazil island of Moleques Island do Sul. They are not found anywhere else in the world. This is an incredibly small area – the smallest known area of any mammal – and there are now somewhere between 30 and 60 of them remaining. The island on which they live is known to be a hotspot for poachers, who can travel there more or less unchallenged. Birds of prey also hut the guinea pigs who by now can’t have long left.

Amsterdam albatross

There are more of this bird left than any other animals on this list – their total number is estimated at around 100, although that figure has got to that low level fairly quickly. These birds have a wingspan of up to 3.4 metres and only in 2016 were they identified as a different species to the wandering albatross. Fishing has put these albatrosses in danger as they have a tendency to try and catch fish which have already been caught on hooks on long fishing lines and perish.

Fatu Hiva monarch

This Polynesian bird has seen its population dwindle in recent years and is now down to the low total of 25 adults remaining. The birds are native to Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas Archipelago and is from there that they take their name. These pretty purple and black birds have been driven close to extinction by the destruction of their habitat. Locals and conservation workers are trying to protect them and encourage breeding, but have so far not had success.

Franklin’s bumblebee

This species of bee is native only to the United States, specifically spread between south Oregon and north California. The exact number of these bees remaining is not known although it is known that their total has decreased significantly in recent years and if the trend continues they will be wiped out completely in a few more years. Franklin’s bumblebee feeds on the nectar o some unusual flowers, fewer of which are now found. Their habitat has been destroyed and they are also under threat from diseases which are communicated via commercial bees.

Javan rhino

This species of rhino is much less endangered than the northern white rhino as there are estimated to be 60 of these left, but it’s no less alarming. The remaining 60all live on a protected reserve in Indonesia.  The rhinos were once native to Vietnam, but there they were completely eradicated by hunters and poachers, rhino being very popular in that part of the world for use in medicines.

There are many more animals whose numbers have dwindled to alarmingly low levels who are less endangered than those on this list. That doesn’t make it any less alarming however. In nearly every case man has destroyed habitats and hunted these animals close to the point of extinction before any action has been taken in an attempt to reverse the damage done.

Many on this list will not have much time left, but some others can be saved. There are many animal protection and conservation charities who need money to support ongoing programmes to prevent more species ending up eradicated and they are all worthy of our help.

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