Our work in 2016

Posted on the 13th December 2016

2016 has been a really exciting year for animals, with positive developments in many areas of our work. None of these would have been possible without your support, so we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part in our campaigns, donated and supported us in other ways. Read on to find out more about our work in 2016…

Speaking out for farmed animals

In March, we learned that the government was planning to scrap the Codes of Practice for farmed animal welfare, and replace these with guidance written by the farming industry itself. This would have left farmed animals with even less protection than they currently have. We co-ordinated a joint campaign against these plans, involving a number of the UK’s leading animal protection groups. Bernard Matthews turkey farm investigation Nov 2016 two turkeysShortly after the campaign was launched, we learnt that the government had backed down, and the current Codes would remain.

Our critically important undercover investigations have continued, revealing nightmarish scenes on a series of factory farms for pigs. Just this week, we released heartbreaking footage of wounded turkeys on a ‘free-range’ farm run by Bernard Matthews.

In August, we held a joint vigil with Essex Pig Save, and captured powerful photos and footage of pigs on the final stage of their journey to slaughter. Pig Save Vigil: pig drinking waterThese resulted in at least 200 requests for Go Vegan information packs.

We have fought hard against a number of planning applications for new animal farms. While it has proved difficult to get them stopped altogether, our campaigns have resulted in significant delays to approval of the applications. A proposal for a million-bird chicken farm was withdrawn following our campaign, and the re-submitted plans have still not been given approval.


Lobbying for CCTV in Slaughterhouses

Pigs were routinely hit around the face and headThe campaign for CCTV in slaughterhouses has now gained more political support than ever before. An Early Day Motion (EDM) in support of the campaign made the top-ten list of most-signed EDMs during the 2015-16 parliamentary session. In October, the Scottish National Party formally agreed to support mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses, and we are working hard to ensure that other political parties follow suit.

We worked closely with the media to expose the failure of the current regulatory system to protect animals from illegal abuse in slaughterhouses. In May, the Times revealed that more than 30 slaughterhouses had denied official vets access to CCTV footage.

August saw the release of a groundbreaking new report, which had been commissioned by Animal Aid and authored by a team of independent experts. It concluded that a system of properly monitored CCTV was both cost-effective and feasible. This news resulted in a strong piece in the Metro online.

Helping people to go vegan

In February, we ran our first ever Vegan Challenge for students. The Great Vegan University Challenge was tailored specifically to students’ needs and proved extremely popular, with 1,650 people taking part.

Great Vegan Challenge logoNovember saw the return of our Great Vegan Challenge, which was bigger than ever before, with more than 2,500 people trying a vegan diet for the month. We provided comprehensive support for participants, and even took a group of them to a farmed animal sanctuary, so they could meet the kinds of animals they were saving by going vegan. Almost half of participants say they intend to remain vegan.

In July we launched our Mark it Vegan campaign, Mark It Vegan logowhich calls on supermarkets to clearly label their own-brand vegan products. Thousands of people signed our online petition and Asda has now committed to labelling all of its own-brand vegan products. Tesco has now stated that it is developing a new vegan logo to appear on suitable products.

Exposing the horrors of vivisection

Demonstration outside RVCIn 2016 we exposed the shocking truth about the Royal Veterinary College’s (RVC) programme of animal experiments, which totalled more than 9,000 in 2014. Through rigorous research, we uncovered disturbing details about the experiments that had been conducted. We found experiments that were attempting to advance human – not veterinary – medicine, and ‘procedures’ that had gone horribly wrong. We held a silent vigil at the RVC’ s campus in London, urging them to heal animals instead of harming them.

Don't Leave a Legacy of SufferingThis year also saw the launch of our bold new Don’t Leave a Legacy of Suffering campaign, which targets one of the most important sources of income for vivisection-funding charities. We created a sensitive new series of resources which broach this difficult subject, and hundreds of people have pledged to include only humane charities in their will.

In November we released a shocking new exposé: cruel experiments on baby mice at a research centre funded with money from Arthritis Research UK. Thousands of people contacted the charity to complain and urge them to adopt a cruelty-free policy.

We have taken every opportunity to speak out for animals suffering in laboratories, from lobbying top civil servants to giving a speech at the march on World Day for Animals in Laboratories.

Highlighting horse deaths

As ever, we have worked hard to bring race horse deaths to the public attention. This year’s Cheltenham Festival saw the highest equine death rate in more than 10 years. Grand National demo 2016Without our research and up-to-the-minute press releases, those deaths may not have been reported in the media. We have held several events at particularly lethal racecourses, including the infamous Grand National at Aintree, handing out thousands of leaflets and gaining strong coverage in the press.

Animal Aid and Care2 outside gates at AscotTogether with Care2, we have been calling on Ascot to conduct an inquiry into the huge number of horse deaths at its course. In June, we handed in a 100,000-signature petition, which has now grown to 146,000 signatures. In October, we held a further demonstration at the racecourse, outside the grand finale day of racing.

Revealing the truth about shooting

Rally outside Parliament against grouse shooting2016 has seen a huge surge in public opposition to grouse shooting. A poll that we commissioned in September found that almost half of respondents would be in favour of a ban, with the figure rising to 63 per cent when only counting those who expressed an opinion. In July, we released a powerful new film showing the cruel and environmentally damaging nature of grouse shooting.

In August, we held our first ever Week of Action Against Grouse Shooting, where we encouraged people to sign a petition started by Mark Avery, calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting. This gained more than 100,000 signatures and led to a parliamentary debate. Although this was attended by many pro-shooting MPs, it demonstrated the growing strength of public support for an end to this barbaric ‘sport’.

Protest against shooting on public land in WalesThis year we launched a vital new campaign against shooting on public land in Wales. This included a microsite, petition and leaflet with information in English and Welsh. In September, we held an eye-catching photocall outside the Welsh Assembly, which was shown on ITV Wales. Natural Resources Wales, the authority currently leasing public land for shooting, has now agreed to conduct a review of the practice.

Protecting wild animals

This winter we have sent out hundreds of factsheets with practical advice on how to deter unwanted animals humanely, without resorting to cruel traps and poison. Our plea to show kindness to these animals has been published in more than 50 local papers.

In recent weeks, we have been speaking out against Christmas displays featuring live animals such as reindeer, and at least one of these has been cancelled following our complaint.

Just last week, following a strong campaign by local people, and a searching Freedom of Information request from Animal Aid, the City of London Corporation cancelled a contract that would have allowed deer to be shot for ‘sport’ in Epping Forest.

Educating young people

cookery demoOur amazing network of voluntary school speakers have given 448 school talks and cookery demonstrations this year, educating young people about cruelty-free living.

We have just produced our brand new Young Person’s Guide to Animal-Friendly High Street Shopping, which provides vital information about cruelty-free food, clothing and cosmetics.

We have worked intensively on a brand-new film for primary school pupils, which will be released in early 2017. Stand by for news about this!

Providing cruelty-free products

Our cruelty-free shop has gone from strength to strength with an ever-increasing range of animal-friendly products. Our Merchandise Team have sent out an incredible 7,242 orders (that figure doesn’t include the Christmas rush in December!), and we have held stalls at numerous vegan fairs around the country, as well as sponsoring 25 cruelty-free events.

We held our annual Christmas Fayres in Exeter and London, where hundreds of people came to stock up on cruelty-free goods, support charities and campaign groups, and find out more about cruelty-free living.

Christmas fayre overview pic 2016

Farewell to our inspirational Director

Andrew speaking at live export demonstrationA roundup of 2016 would not be complete without mentioning the sad news that our Director Andrew Tyler has had to retire due to ill health. Andrew has led Animal Aid for more than two decades, and achieved astonishing results in that time. He is deeply missed but is continuing to work with us as a consultant, and Isobel Hutchinson (previously Head of Campaigns) has taken over as Director.


Help us to be just as effective in 2017: please make a donation

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