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Animal rights are widely known and accepted in western culture but despite this there are topics and events which happen every year that often cause much debate and controversy on the public and media forums. From high profile support from celebrities, outspoken models from the fashion world and animal campaigners, animal rights is an issue that has sparked outrage and even government debate. These are few widely discussed topics of animal use that some support openly, while others refuse to accept them under any circumstances.
Worldwide it’s estimated that 40-50 million animals are killed every year for their fur, including raccoon dogs , rabbits, foxes, mink, and chinchillas . The fur trade has gathered much protest from campaigners for the inhumane way the animals are reared and killed, often in cages where they suffer from numerous physical and behavioral abnormalities induced by the stress of caging conditions and then killed methods that preserve the pelt, such as gassing, neck-breaking and anal electrocution. Recently China has come under attack from extremist campaigners such as PETA and media over the cruel photos and videos of dogs and cats being kept in awful conditions and then bludgeoned, hanged, bled to death, strangled with wire nooses, and even skinned alive so that their fur can be turned into trim and trinkets.
Some people will say animal testing is necessary in the furthering of medical treatment for humans but the other side of this argument is that animal testing is completely unacceptable and treatment for humans should be only be tested on humans. It is estimated that 50 to 100 million vertebrate animals worldwide are used annually in animal testing. Although much larger numbers of invertebrates are used and the use of flies and worms as model organisms is very important, experiments on invertebrates are largely unregulated and not included in statistics. Most animals are euthanized after being used in an experiment.
Every year, hundreds or even thousands of dolphin and small whale are rounded up and forced into a small hidden cove in Taiji where they are slaughtered in the worlds largest scale kill of its kind, lasting up to six months. Once trapped inside the cove the animals are killed by having their throats slashed or by being speared. Media images of the event often show the usual blue waters of the cove blood red and some even go further to show the animals sounding in distress. Animal campaigners have challenged the Japanese government to change its laws but whale meat and counterfeit dolphin meat sold as whale meat help to keep this horrific event continuing while the Japanese governments response has been using pest control as an explanation.
Seal hunting has drawn growing media attention due to the disturbing images of seals and their pups being clubbed to death. The main sealing states are Canada, Greenland, Namibia, Norway and Russia although it is Canada that has gathered the most controversy with celebrities such as Paul McCartney and former wife, Heather Mills speaking out against it. In Canada 2006, 325,000 harp seals, as well as 10,000 hooded seals and 10,400 grey seals were killed. An additional 10,000 animals were allocated for hunting by Aboriginal peoples.
Animals in Medicine
High numbers of animals are used each year worldwide for their use in medicine. China is probably the most notable for its use of endangered tiger. Animals used in traditional medicine are tigers, leopards, sharks, saiga antelope, elephants, rhinoceros, pangolins, tortoises, seahorses, musk deer, as well as 7 of the 8 species of bear. The Asiatic Black Bear (more commonly known as the Moon Bear) are kept in captivity on Bear Bile Farms to enable the regular extraction of their bile acid. Tiger bones, skin, fat, whiskers, tail, penises and gall bladders among other parts are believed to cure ailments, keep black magic at bay and possess aphrodisiac properties. It is estimated that there are approximately 5,000 wild tigers left, only 5% of the population number that were alive in the 1900s. About 75 percent are in India while less than 50 are believed to be found in China’s forests. The United States is home to some 10,000 captive tigers, owned by zoos, sanctuaries and private individuals.
It is estimated that worldwide, 140 billion animals are killed for human consumption ever year. The UK, which has a projected 2009 population of 61,126,832, consumed an amazing 2.5 billion animals every year alone. Official figures show that UK abattoirs slaughter 900 million poultry, and 30 million cattle, sheep and pigs every year. These figures do not include imported meat; the UK is probably a net importer so it is likely that they consume close to 1 billion farm animals a year. Tonnage figures from the Marine Fisheries Agency together with estimates for average weight of fish suggest that, in addition, about 1,500 million sea fish and 80 million farmed salmon are consumed. It’s easy to see why vegetarians and vegans are prominent campaigners for animal rights. Animals on factory farms have no legal protection from cruelty that could be illegal if it were inflicted on dogs or cats, including neglect, mutilations, genetic manipulation, drug regimens that cause chronic pain and crippling, transport through all weather extremes and gruesome and violent slaughter for human consumption.
Quote "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~ Immanual Kant
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