2016 was an exciting year for animals and activists alike. While there is still, of course, a lot that can be done for our furry and feathered friends, 2017 has nonetheless been a fantastic year for animal lovers everywhere.Here is a quick look back on the most important victories for the animal cause in 2017.
1. The Chinese government bans importing ivory
Source: Global March for Elephants and Rhinos
China - still a massive market for ivory products as the material is a sign of wealth and success - decided to put an end to ivory imports in March. Although the country signed theConvention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), not much has been done to stop illegal black market trading, which still feeds the high demand for ivory. Nonetheless, animal protection groups praised this decision as a clear step towards effective change.Elephants continue to be hunted for their tusks and even their skin. Every 15 minutes, an elephant is killed by poachers or hunters.Click here to learn more
2. 'Le cirque Bouglione' frees its animals
Source: Valéry Hache
A major decision for one of the most famous circuses in France. André-Joseph Bouglione, grandson of the circus' founder, made the announcement in April, saying that he would no longer allow wild animals to be used onstage. He explained that this was out of "love for animals and respect for the public", and that he would be making sure that Bouglione's animals would have a safe and happy retirement.
3. Madrid says no to wild animals onstage
From January, the Spanish capital joined many other cities and states in banning circuses that use wild animals as performers. The left-wing party Ahora Madrid and the SPSOE (Spanish socialist party) passed the law with very little opposition, leading the way for other towns and cities in Europe.Click here to learn more
4. California bans orca breeding
Source: Jo-Ann McArthur
After many years of controversy surrounding keeping killer whales in captivity for entertainment, California put their orca breeding ban, voted on in 2016, into effect on June 1. The law banned orcas from being bred and, very importantly, being trained for use in performances. Although it didn't free SeWorld's long-suffering residents, it also meant that they could only be used in "educational presentations", and is hopefully the beginning of the end of these beautiful creatures being kept in captivity. Similar bans were passed in France, which stopped the breeding of captive orcas and dolphins on August 1.Click here to learn more
5. Taiwan bans dog and cat meat
In April, an amendment to Taiwan's animal protection laws was proposed by the government, which would fine anyone found eating cat or dog meat around $1300.A wonderful, but largely symbolic law as very few people eat cats or dogs in Taiwan anymore.Click here to learn more
6. The end of animal performers in New York
New York City joined the many states and cities taking a stand against animal exploitation on June 21, when it banned circuses with wild animal performers from coming there. After a near unanimous vote – 43 for, 6 against – the 'Big Apple' put its new law into effect.Click here to learn more
6. The "worst race track in the world" closes its doors
Source: Grey2K USA Worldwide
The Macao dog track, sadly known for being the worst in the world, will finally close in January 2018. In 2010, no less than 30 dogs died there every month, according to an investigation byGrey2K. Between reports of horrendous living conditions and animals being killed simply for being too old to run any more, animal protection agencies were demanding the closure of the track for years. Rescue organizations are now working to find homes for the 650 greyhounds still at the canidrome.Click here to learn more
7. California makes pet shops source their animals from shelters and rescues, striking a blow against 'puppy mills'
In a massive blow for "puppy mills", which mass-produce purebred puppies and kittens, California banned pet shops from getting their animals from these places. Instead, John Brow, the state's governer, signed a law which makes pet shops sell animals from shelters and registered breeders. They hope that this will help more animals in need.Click here to learn more
8. Gucci stops using fur
In Octobre, luxury fashion brand Gucci announced that they would stop using fur in their collections, starting from the Spring/Summer collection in 2018. They will be working closely with HSUS, LAV, and the Fur-Free Alliance to ensure that their new policies will truly help animal welfare. Gucci isn't the first fashion house to take this stance, joining Armani, HUGO BOSS and Net-a-Porter in ditching fur.Click here to learn more
9. Italy, Ireland and India bans circuses with animal performers
Source: Valery Hache
Italy, Ireland and India joined 29 other countries in banning wild animals from performing in circuses in November 2017, wanting to protect the welfare of these creatures, harmed both physically and mentally from captive life on the road.Click here to learn more
10. Montreal lifts its controversial Pit Bull ban
Montreal, Canada decided that they would effectiely ban three dog breeds - American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and Pit Bulls - from the city in 2016. People who wanted to keep their pets would have to pay for a permit, along with a criminal background check, and face strict regulations on where they could go and what they could do, or be forced to give them up. Along with a ban on adopting Pit Bulls, this meant certain death for many of these unfairly stereotyped breeds. Happily, the city decided to reverse this ban and work with animal protection agencies to educate the public on proper dog ownership in 2018.Click here to learn more
11. Freedom for Nepal's last dancing bears
Source: World Animal Protection
Just before Christmas, dancing bears Rangila, 19, and Sridevi, 17, were rescued from their living nightmare bythe Jane Goodall Institute of Nepal and World Animal Protection, assisted by local police. The two bears, who are suffering from severe psychological problems, were forced to dance to entertain people for nearly two decades. Punished harshly when they made any sort of mistake, they were controlled with a rope threaded through a hole in their noses, which hurt them greatly. Rangila and Sridevi were the last two known dancing bears in Nepal, where the cruel practice was considered a 'tradition'. Although they are now safe, dancing bears are still waiting to be saved in countries such as Turkey and Greece.Click here to learn more
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