Which is the safest country for animals?
A Chinese researcher injects a monkey with an experimental solution at a laboratory in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in May 2004. China has since drafted new regulations to save laboratory animals from unnecessary pain and inhumane treatment. (Getty Images)
August 12th, 2011
04:00 AM ET

Which is the safest country for animals?

Editor's Note: Heather Moore is a staff writer for the PETA Foundation

By Heather Moore – Special to CNN

The thought-provoking new film Rise of the Planet of the Apes may have people talking long after they leave the Cineplex. In the film, a scientist genetically modifies a young chimpanzee to create a new breed of ape with human-like intelligence. The chimpanzee matures quickly, escapes from his cage and recruits an army among thousands of caged apes. They revolt, and a war breaks out between the species.

While much of the movie is obviously science fiction, hundreds of chimpanzees really are used in laboratory experiments in the U.S.—the only developed country that still conducts invasive experiments on chimpanzees. These animals are cut open, addicted to drugs, kept in isolation, or inoculated with infectious agents—all legally. The U.S. Animal Welfare Act (AWA) does not prohibit any experiment, no matter how cruel or irrelevant. It simply sets minimum housing and maintenance standards for confined animals.

On the whole, the federal AWA has little bark and no bite. Rats, birds and mice aren’t covered under the act, even though they make up approximately 95 percent of all animals used in laboratories. Cold-blooded animals are also not protected, and horses and farmed animals are covered only if they’re used in biomedical experiments. The AWA doesn’t apply to retail pet stores, state and county fairs, livestock shows, rodeos or agricultural exhibitions.

America is a world leader in some respects, but it lags behind many countries when it comes to animal protection laws. So, where in the world are animals treated humanely? It often depends on the issue—or species—but one could argue that European Union (EU) countries tend to be kinder overall.

In 2008, Spain (once thought of as the bullfighting capital of the world) became the first country to grant great apes “human rights,” banning experiments on chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and bonobos. The Balearic Islands, Britain, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium and Austria also prohibit experiments on great apes.

Austria has one of the strongest anti-cruelty laws in the EU, prohibiting many practices that are commonplace elsewhere. In Austria, it’s illegal for pet stores to sell puppies and kittens, for circuses to use lions and tigers and for people to crop dogs’ ears and tails or to restrain dogs with chains, choke collars or “invisible” electric fences. After the law passed in 2004, Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel proclaimed, “Austria is taking the role of pioneer. This new law … lifts animal protection to the highest level internationally.”

Several other European nations, including Sweden, Estonia, Norway, Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands and Switzerland, prohibit ear cropping and tail docking. The Netherlands also outlaws fox and chinchilla farming and gives vegetarians discount health insurance rates. Earlier this year, the EU approved a new regulation requiring that all clothing containing fur or leather be clearly marked with labels stating, “Non-textile parts of animal origin.”

At least 14 EU nations have laws prohibiting the production of foie gras. (In the U.S., foie gras production will be illegal in California in 2012.) Veal crates have been banned in the U.K. since 1990, and other EU countries have adopted laws to ban battery cages, veal crates and gestation crates, all of which are common in the U.S.

In 2004, Reggio Emilia, Italy, passed unprecedented animal rights bylaws, making it illegal to boil lobsters alive and keep goldfish in glass bowls. Amusement parks cannot legally give their customers goldfish, chicks and rabbits as prizes, and social species of captive birds must be kept in pairs. Birdcages in Reggio Emilia—the unofficial bird breeding capital of Italy—must meet specific size guidelines. Monza, Italy, also prohibits people from keeping goldfish in bowls and forbids fairs from giving away dyed chicks and other small animals as prizes.

Global views about animals are evolving. China drafted its first animal protection law last year. India’s environment ministry recently added bulls to the list of animals who can’t be used for entertainment under that country’s “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960,” banning cruel bullfights and bull races. We still have a long way to go before any nation can be considered completely morally progressive, but some nations have made significant strides.

Ultimately, progress in animal protection lies with the public. When more Americans press for an end to animal experiments, lobby for local Meatless Monday resolutions, contact their lawmakers about mandatory spay and neuter laws and take other steps to make animal protection a key issue in this country, stronger animal protection laws will follow. Perhaps someday humans, apes and other animals will all coexist peaceably.

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Topics: Animals • Ethics

soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. j. von hettlingen

    I doubt if any country in the world has so many animal rights groups (over 40) as in the United Kingdom. Most of all they are fanatically active as well. So I suppose the U.K. must be the safest country in the world for animals..

    August 12, 2011 at 5:32 am | Reply
    • Missy

      Ray, you're a retarded idiot!
      Phil, Brenda and Joel...amazing minds think alike!
      Manish, you're getting there. Not quite full force on concept though. Research cows used for dairy products cruelty! You'll never eat cheese again!
      And to anyone else reading this blog, begin by thinking of other species rather than your selfish self!

      I've been living on vegan food for sometime now. I try help animals and if I must help man.
      I serve God and stay humble.
      If even 10 out of 100 disgusting humans stopped for a minute, thanking God they have the ability to help out another species this cruelty would slowly diminish!
      Please stop being selfish and save an animals life!:)

      Galatians 6:9

      October 8, 2014 at 1:11 pm | Reply
  2. Eric

    As long as there are humans, then other animals will always be in danger.

    August 12, 2011 at 9:00 am | Reply
  3. Spock

    With more and more people around the world going vegetarian and vegan, and growing acknowledgment that species other than humans deserve respect and kindness, animal protection is going mainstream. But there's a long ways to go. The best way to help animals is to avoid eating them. Great article!

    August 12, 2011 at 9:48 am | Reply
  4. KOA

    India of course.

    August 12, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Reply
  5. John Winston

    America is not backwards about coming forward; it fact, that is the problem.
    Experimenters do not want to lose their jobs so they come forward pushing for new experiments which feeds upon itself.
    Pharma lawyers want to escape liability so they demand more experiments.
    Government does not want unemployment so they grease the experimental gears.

    August 12, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Reply
  6. eric bahrt

    I don't know which country is safest for animals.But America with it's factory farming and no laws to prevent torturing research animals is one of the unsafest.McDonalds and KFC-American restuarants-don't even care that the chickens they serve are often boiled alive in scalding water.The situation is a disgrace

    August 14, 2011 at 1:41 am | Reply
  7. jennha

    It makes me feel extraordinarily bad for not giving this much thought on a regular basis. Thanks for the reminder.

    August 18, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Reply
  8. Ray

    Save a human.Pound a PETArd.

    August 30, 2011 at 9:05 am | Reply
    • rohan


      May 6, 2017 at 9:48 pm | Reply
  9. Ray

    I want PETA weirdoos out of my refriderator,out of my community and off my planet.

    August 30, 2011 at 9:06 am | Reply
    • Joel Johnson

      That spelling, grammar, sensitivity and insight definitely prove your point. Good job! Let's eat some horsedogkitten for Thanksgiving to celebrate! (oh wait, that's where we draw the line, right? Turkey duck and chicken are fine though, right, right?)

      November 23, 2013 at 4:41 am | Reply
    • brenda

      wow, I googled the best place for animal welfare because I'm so miserable living in Texas (I'm a native) I don't want to spend the rest of my life in disgust of all the dead animals all over the road on my way to town. I'm sick of every place I go seems to have "dead heads" on their walls. I'm sick of all the animals that are pts at tax payer dollars and the "breeders" make tax free money selling their puppies. Their excuse is always I make sure they go to good homes. Yea right ...if so thanks for taking away a home for one of the many at animal control that will be killed. The only thing I can say about the high fenced big rack hunting is at least the deer don't run off wounded.Well not the only thing where the hell did it become the normal thing to want to kill something and get bragging rights because it has one more point on its antler ...bizarre and so cowardly. It takes a lot more ba!!s to rescue injured wildlife. Most all of the hunters I know claim to do it to put meat on the table & save money. Really cheap yearly fee hunting lease $750, average deer rifle $500,4 wheeler 6k,deer feeder $300, camouflage clothes $200, trailer to haul 4 wheeler 2k,I could go on. Its about the hunt not the meat.
      Anyway f_@ktard Ray ...your probably my neighbor

      March 22, 2014 at 1:10 pm | Reply
      • Katie HALSTEAD

        LMBO!!!! This reply killed me! So true! Loved the way you put it!

        July 4, 2014 at 2:35 am |
  10. ridechenko

    portugal isn t for shure. Although we have many people saving animals and fight with courage for their rights, portugal has too a state, a govermant that don t give a damn.

    October 13, 2011 at 6:48 am | Reply
  11. Phil Abramsky

    This is a phenomenal blog entry. It absolutely makes me cringe to see the animal abuses around the world. When will we take a stand on this and stand up for what is right? I would think that most of these animals could use some great veterinary care and some discount pet meds or at least a good caring home.

    November 27, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Reply
  12. Ann Olson

    It has been illegal in the UK to crop ears, sell puppies and kittens in shops for decades. I agree the animal welfare in the US is appalling. One of the things that shocked me upon having to live there. No money to be made out of animal welfare so its not a priority and it will never catch on until it becomes more lucrative than the cruelty.

    August 26, 2013 at 11:29 pm | Reply
  13. manish gahlot

    The most effective thing is not kill any animal is to become vegetarian. In acient time v dont have options but now a days v have many options. Always love animals when v love animals v cant or stop anybody to kill them all animals also have rights to leave together.Be vegetarian

    June 10, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Reply
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    August 28, 2017 at 5:00 pm | Reply

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