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From fires and floods to a global pandemic and a president who refused to accept reality, 2020 will be remembered as a year most of us would probably rather forget. The pandemic actually benefited animals in some ways; circuses had to cancel public performances, for instance, fewer horses were run to their deaths on racetracks, and wild bees enjoyed cleaner air.

And the COVID-19 virus put more attention on the international wildlife trade, since markets selling live animals have been linked to the spread of disease. Even the fur industry was impacted.

Although 2020 was in many ways a year of injustice—let us never forget the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Mannie Ellis, Andres Guardado, and so many other people of color at the hands of police—the past 12 months have also offered some reasons to celebrate. Here’s a look at a dozen of the top stories for animals this year.

1. Judge says vegans deserve same legal protection as religious people (January)

The year began with an encouraging decision by a UK judge, who said he is “satisfied overwhelmingly” that ethical veganism meets the criteria to qualify as a philosophical belief. “It is cogent, serious and important, and worthy of respect in democratic society,” said judge Robin Postle, ruling that ethical veganism meets the criteria required for it to be a philosophical belief protected under the Equality Act 2010. The Act makes it illegal for someone to be discriminated against because of protected characteristics, including religion or belief, race, sex, age, and physical ability.

The case was brought by Jordi Casamitjana, an ethical vegan, who said that his employer, the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), fired him after he told his colleagues that the organization’s pension fund was being invested in companies involved in animal testing. Jordi eventually agreed to a settlement with the LACS and wrote a memoir about his experiences, Ethical Vegan: A Personal and Political Journey to Change the World, which was published this month. He says the LACS has since changed its auto-enroll pension arrangements to make them “ethical.”

2. France moves to ban mass live-shredding of male chicks (January)

Among the dirtiest secrets of the egg industry is that every year it kills 7 billion of the male chicks it breeds shortly after they hatch. And one of the most widespread methods for killing the chicks is to dump them in machines called macerators—horrific devices that shred the birds to pieces while they are still conscious. Animal advocates worldwide have been agitating for an end to this practice for decades, and now France will become one of the first countries to halt it when the ban goes into effect sometime in 2021.

3. Mexico bill to ban cosmetic testing on animals passes first stage (March)

With each country that outlaws cosmetics testing on animals, the world grows one step closer to a global ban on this insidious practice. Mexico announced this year that its Senate had voted unanimously to ban such testing. If the law passes, it will make Mexico the 40th country (and the first in North America) to prohibit testing cosmetics on animals. The bill will next be considered in the lower house in the Mexican legislature, the Chamber of Deputies.

4. Chicago bans horse-drawn carriages (April)

As of January 1, 2021, Chicago will join many other cities around the world that have abolished the use of horse-drawn carriages. These carriages, which often take tourists through busy traffic in all kinds of weather, have meant tremendous suffering for horses. “We’re very thankful,” said Jodie Wiederkehr, executive director of the Chicago Alliance for Animals, a grassroots organization that has been agitating for an end to the horse-drawn carriage trade for years. “We’re very proud of our grassroots work. We did all this work on our own time with no pay.”

The City Council approved an ordinance to halt the issuance of new licenses and prohibit the city from renewing any of the 10 existing carriage licenses, which will expire at the end of the year. Read my interview with Jodie here.

5. Calgary Stampede cancelled (April)

One of the first signs of the year that the coronavirus pandemic might offer a silver lining to animals came with the announcement that there would be no Calgary Stampede in 2020. Canada’s century-old event attracts more than a million visitors a year who come to see a wide variety of rodeo-style events, including bull riding, steer wrestling, and the notorious chuckwagon races, which have killed more than 70 horses since they began keeping track in 1986. Unfortunately, we’ll probably see a Calgary Stampede event in 2021.

Also in April, news came that the coronavirus would mean the cancellation of the running of the bulls spectacle, held every July in Pamplona, Spain.

6. Thanks to sheltering in place, animal shelters are empty (April)

Many people saw the era of social isolation as the ideal time to rescue a dog or cat, leading shelters across the country to report a significant increase in the number of animals they were able to adopt out or place in foster homes. “Adoption rates have skyrocketed,” said one shelter administrator. “Dogs are being adopted quickly and all the dogs we sent into temporary foster homes [about 70] when we closed in March were adopted.” Rescue groups are seeing a similar increase. Foster Dogs Inc., a New York-based nonprofit that helps get dogs out of shelters and into foster homes, says that last year they had about 140 applications a month; that increased to 3,000 this year.

7. Could lockdown be the death of bullfighting in Spain? (May)

Bullfighting was already struggling to remain relevant when the coronavirus hit Spain this year. Long a target of animal rights campaigners, the blood sport attracts fewer and fewer spectators, especially among young Spaniards, who question the link between “culture” and the killing of bulls (a poll in May found that nearly half of Spaniards want bullfighting banned). With the country on lockdown, matadors and torture fans alike were forced to stay home for much of the year, which was a huge economic blow to the industry. It could be that the coronavirus will do what animal rights activists have not been able to, and the bullfighting industry has asked the government for financial assistance. Click here to add your name to the petition urging Spain not to use public funds to subsidize bullfighting.

8. Australia’s ban on animal testing for cosmetics comes into effect (July)

Perhaps you heard that on July 1, 2020, Australia’s Industrial Chemicals Act 2019 came into force. The Act restricts the use of new animal test data for cosmetics safety testing. From this date, any new industrial chemicals solely used in cosmetics cannot use new animal test data to prove safety, whether the chemicals are being manufactured in or imported into Australia. 

While this sounds great, in practice the country falls short on a total animal-testing ban. For example, in the case of multi-use substances used in cosmetics as well as other products such as household cleaners, paints and air freshener, companies may still submit new animal test data under certain circumstances. It also only applies to chemical ingredients used in cosmetic products, not the products themselves. And it permits products sold in China, where tests on animals are mandated by law for imported and special-use cosmetics, to be sold in Australia, provided companies also demonstrate equivalent non-animal test data where appropriate.

9. Colombia to become first South American country to ban animal testing for cosmetics (August)

A stronger ban on animal testing may be the one passed in Colombia this year and set to take effect in 2024. While that’s a long time to wait and will mean the suffering of many more animals, at least this one applies to ingredients and cosmetics products, regardless if they were imported or manufactured in Colombia.

10. Poland, the world’s third largest fur producer, votes to ban fur farming (September)

For years, Poland has had the dubious distinction of being one of the biggest killers of animals for fur (an estimated 6 million minks), ranking just after China and Denmark. Campaigners in Poland have long agitated for the closure of Polish fur farms, and they hope to secure a victory soon. In September, photos and video footage taken by an activist working undercover on a Polish mink farm were released and revealed appalling suffering. Soon after, a bill came up in the lower house of the Polish Parliament—and supported by the country’s ruling party—that advanced animal protection legislation to ban breeding animals for fur as well as ritual slaughter for exports and the use of wild animals in circuses.

Not everyone in the Polish government supports the bill, however, and it’s gotten quite a bit of pushback from the agricultural industry, which fears it could somehow hurt the meat trade, and from those who see fur farming as a cultural issue. The bill next goes to the Senate, though sadly the draft legislation for the ban does not include rabbits. In November, Polish President Andrzej Duda said he strongly opposes the ban.

11. “Buddy,” the beefalo who escaped slaughter, still on the lam (November)

Yes, there were bigger news stories of the year—stories in which more animals were affected. But the saga of a lone beefalo (a cross between a cow and a buffalo) captured the public’s imagination and had even meat-eaters advocating for his freedom. It began on August 3, when the beefalo later dubbed “Buddy” escaped from a transport truck as he was being moved into a Connecticut slaughterhouse. Eluding all attempts to catch him, Buddy roamed the forested hills of Litchfield County and was big news by the end of the month. Plymouth police used various traps and drones, but Buddy outsmarted them. In September, the Plymouth police union set up a fundraiser to buy Buddy from the farmer who “owned” him and thus ensure the animal would not be sent to slaughter. The police say that Buddy will go to a sanctuary for farmed animals in Florida—if they ever catch him.

12. UK dairy farms have a year to stop killing male calves (December)

A cruel and common practice in the dairy industry is to kill newborn male calves, since they don’t lactate. New rules mean the UK’s dairy farmers will have until the end of 2021 to prove they no longer do this. Advancements in technology mean farmers can use “sexed semen” to reduce the number of male calves born. An estimated 60,000 male calves are now killed on-farm in the UK every year.


This was also the year that activist Regan Russell was killed. Regan had been campaigning for animal rights since 1979 (she was also active for women’s rights and the Black Lives Matter movement). On the morning of Friday, June 19, 2020, she was attending a peaceful demonstration outside a pig slaughterhouse in the Canadian city of Burlington, Ontario. She was standing outside the slaughterhouse entrance—waiting to give water to pigs being brought in on one of the hottest days of the year—when the driver of an animal transport truck suddenly accelerated, turned in her direction, and ran her over. “He went straight at her,” said one witness.

Regan’s death came two days after the passage of Bill 156, ag-gag legislation intended to prevent activists from, among other things, showing compassion to thirsty pigs by giving them water as they are transported to slaughter. After a “comprehensive investigation,” local police determined that the truck driver did not hit Regan intentionally, and he was charged with careless driving causing death—basically a traffic ticket. Regan’s death is the subject of a new documentary short by Earthlings filmmaker Shaun Monson, There Was a Killing.


Other stories of the year worth noting:

Golden Globes go vegan (January)

Cows communicate using unique voices (January)

12 rabbits rescued from medical testing laboratory (January)

Borden files for bankruptcy (January)

Ben & Jerry’s will no longer claim their ice cream comes from happy cows (January)

U.S. states join global push to ban animal-tested cosmetics (February)

13-year-old animal activist Genesis Butler named Marvel hero (February)

Maryland ban on sale of dogs, cats in pet stores upheld (February)

Deer rips into hunter’s face (March)

Cow has avoided police capture for months in South Florida (March)

Canada Goose will stop using new fur (April)

China signals end to dog meat consumption by humans (April)

Slaughterhouses close due to COVID-19 (April)

Shenzhen becomes first Chinese city to ban consumption of cats and dogs (April)

USDA agrees to limit wildlife kill program in 10 California counties (April)

Former pork farmer rescues pigs now (April)

Duck market closes (May)

Alderman moves to close legal loophole in Chicago’s puppy mill ordinance (May)

Dutch MPs vote to close mink farms after virus cases (June)

GlaxoSmithKline halts its use of near-drowning test (June)

China increases protections for pangolins (June)

Dolphins learn how to use tools from peers, just like great apes (June)

Ban on sale of animals in pet stores passes New York Senate (July)

Lockdowns spared millions of animals from becoming roadkill (July)

San Francisco fur ban upheld as challenge is dismissed (July)

2 rescued pigs honor the memory of slain animal rights activist Regan Russell (July)

Reno City Council bans dog and cat sales (July)

Germany bans sow stalls (July)

Ringling’s retired circus elephants to move to conservation center (September)

Grizzly bear kills hunter (September)

Nordstrom to stop selling fur and exotic animal skin products (September)

Governor signs bill banning sales of dogs, cats, and rabbits in California (September)

Czech Republic bans cages for egg-laying hens (September)

France to ban use of wild animals in circuses, marine parks (September)

France to ban mink fur farming (September)

Clothing store Winners going fur-free across Canada after animal rights protests (October)

San Antonio bans pet store sales of dogs from breeders (October)

Israel moves to ban ‘immoral’ animal fur trade (October)

World’s biggest fur auction house plans to liquidate assets (November)

Turkey’s animal rights legislation underway (November)

Fur industry faces uncertain future due to Covid (November)

Gray wolves will be reintroduced in Colorado (November)

New Zealand High Court rules farrowing crates for pigs unlawful (November)

“World’s loneliest elephant” moving to sanctuary, with help from Cher (November)

England and Wales to ban live animal exports in European first (December)

Bees witnessed using tools in nature for the first time (December)

U.S. House votes to ban trade in big cats as pets and as props for roadside zoos (December)

Young ravens rival adult chimps in a big test of general intelligence (December)

Goat who escaped being auctioned for slaughter in October is reunited with mother and brother at sanctuary (December)

Thai rescuer gives CPR to baby elephant hit by motorbike (December)

Earlier this month, Procter & Gamble Co., the corporate conglomerate responsible for the manufacture of everything from toothpaste to face moisturizer, announced it had joined with the Humane Society International’s (HSI) #BeCrueltyFree campaign, which seeks to ban animal testing for cosmetics in all major global beauty markets by 2023. This is certainly good news, as P&G has been notorious for blinding, burning, maiming, and killing thousands of animals such as rabbits, dogs, hamsters, and guinea pigs every year, all while testing the toxicity of product ingredients.

The media announced the news with headlines such as “P&G joins the campaign against animal testing as Humane Society International’s new partner” (Cosmetics Business), “Procter & Gamble backs the eradication of animal testing” (Yahoo News), and “P&G joins effort to ban animal testing for cosmetics” (Cincinnati Business Courier). So far so good.

Then, a headline on the vegan-friendly site One Green Planet declared, “Procter & Gamble’s brand Herbal Essences is officially cruelty-free!” Actually, no, it’s not. A look at the Herbal Essences website shows their hair care products contain ingredients that definitely come from animals, including protein from silk and honey from bees, as well as some ingredients that sometimes come from animals, such as glycol distearate, stearyl alcohol, and glycerin.

We saw something similar occur last November, after the cosmetics brand CoverGirl (which P&G owned from 1989 to 2016) stopped testing its products on animals. “Cosmetics Giant COVERGIRL Certified As Cruelty-Free And Given Leaping Bunny,” proclaimed Plant Based News. Yet CoverGirl continues to use animal-derived ingredients, including collagen, beeswax, and lanolin.

In addition to those ingredients, a beauty or personal care product could contain, for example, allantoin (cow urine), ambergris (whale vomit), carmine (crushed-up beetles), civet (anal gland of civet cats), fish scales, gelatin (cow or pig bones, tendons, or ligaments), lard (fat from pig abdomens), mink oil, pearl powder (from oysters), placenta (sheep organs), squalene (shark liver oil), or tallow (cow fat) and still earn “cruelty-free” certification from HSI or Cruelty Free International, the latter of which issues its Leaping Bunny symbol to companies that do not test on animals.

And hence the problem. When we in the animal rights/vegan movement use a term like “cruelty-free” to describe a product, others reasonably expect it to mean it is free from any cruelty—including animal ingredients.

Or human exploitation. For years, Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.) has been raising awareness about the use of the worst forms of child labor, including slavery, in the chocolate industry, and calling companies—especially “vegan” companies—to task for sourcing their cacao from areas where slavery is known to be used. As F.E.P.’s founder and executive director lauren Ornelas has said many times, “Just because something is vegan doesn’t mean it’s cruelty-free.”

She extends this principle to exploited farm workers, as well, noting that the people who grow and harvest the fruits and vegetables adored by vegans and omnis alike are among the most abused laborers in the food system, imperiled by extreme weather, agricultural chemicals, and sexual abuse.

Let me be clear. I applaud the efforts of HSI and Cruelty Free International—neither of which implies that their certification means a product is vegan—and other organizations working to eliminate animal testing around the world; vivisection has long been a blight on humanity. But when groups, companies, or individuals use “cruelty-free” to only indicate products not tested on animals, or they ignore the human suffering that goes into “vegan” products, we dilute the meaning of the term and confuse those whose hearts and minds we are trying to win through our advocacy.*

This may sound like a trivial issue, but words matter. And as we try to help people make truly kind choices, we owe it to everyone—the animals, workers, consumers, and ourselves—to be accurate.


*Note: The Vegan Society’s trademark—a sunflower growing from the V in “vegan”—is used by brands internationally to signify a product contains no animal ingredients and has not been tested on animals.


A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that the U.S. public is closely divided over the issue of animal testing: 47 percent favor the practice, while 52 percent oppose it. That’s actually a slight improvement over results from the previous study they did, in 2014, in which 50 percent of respondents opposed animal testing.

This new survey comes as the topic of using animals for testing products and for scientific research is being hotly debated. Researchers, activists, and politicians all have a vested interest in what happens with vivisection, and most—even those who profit from using animals—seem to agree that at minimum more can be done to reduce the use of animals in labs. Among the issues up for debate are specific bans being proposed, such as California’s SB 1249, as well as HR 2790, also known as the Humane Cosmetics Act, which would phase out animal-based testing for cosmetic products in the U.S. in favor of alternative testing methods (such as computer models and in-vitro testing) and eventually ban the sale in the United States of cosmetics tested on animals in other countries.

Activists have a lot of data on their side. For example, previous research has shown that 72 percent of consumers agree that testing cosmetics on animals is unethical. Moreover, using in-vitro models to predict skin irritation in humans has resulted in accuracy rates of 76 to 86 percent. Compare that to the accuracy of just 60 percent using rabbits. You’d get pretty much the same results by flipping a coin.

I asked Monica Engebretson, North America campaign manager for Cruelty Free International, about the efforts she and her colleagues are engaged in to end the practice of animal testing. Founded in 1898 by Irish writer and suffragette Frances Power Cobbe as the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, Cruelty Free International has been agitating against vivisection since its inception.

“As an organization, Cruelty Free International has a big mission: to end animal experiments worldwide,” says Monica. “Our organization is headquartered in London, so we have campaigns that are focused in Europe as well as campaigns that reach around the world. This makes a lot of sense considering that European countries often lead the way on animal protection and then it becomes our task to get other countries to catch up. In fact, one of our big campaigns in the UK right now, called ‘Lead the Way,’ is working to end the use of dogs in toxicity testing. Another example is cosmetic testing on animals. The European Union started phasing out the use of animals for cosmetic tests in 2009 and the full ban came into effect in 2013. Following on this success, Cruelty Free International has been working in countries around the world to match this progress. Currently we are working to bring a petition of 8 million signatures to the United Nations.”

Stateside, Monica and her colleagues are working on what she calls “prioritizing alternatives” initiatives. “I think most people would be shocked to realize that even when modern non-animal tests are available there is no federal requirement that those alternatives be used in place of animal tests. As a result, hundreds of thousands of animals may be used each year in outdated tests that have scientifically valid, humane alternatives. [In contrast, the EU has mandated the use of available alternatives since 1986.] We were successful in passing such legislation in Virginia last year and came very close to passing a law in Hawaii. California, New York, and New Jersey already have similar laws in place. It’s all about moving the needle and keeping your eyes on the big picture.”

How You Can Help

Obviously, the first step is to not buy products tested on animals. Look for the Leaping Bunny logo and download the app on your smartphone.

Let the managers at stores where you shop know you appreciate them selling products not tested on animals.

Support legislation, such as HR 2790 and SB 1249.

Contact companies you like and ask if they test on animals or use animal ingredients. If they do, tell them you oppose any animal testing and the use of animal ingredients.

Sign and share the global Forever Against Animal Testing petition, which will be presented to the United Nations when 8 million signatures have been collected.

Share this information with your friends and family.


You will find more information about advocating for animals in the new, expanded edition of Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism, to be published in November.


Last month, as Black Panther was breaking box office records and teenage activists were shaming the NRA, calls for animal testing bans were also making headlines around the world.

First, the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act entered the state legislature. If passed as is, the bill will ban the sale of animal-tested hygiene or beauty products such as makeup, shampoos, and deodorants throughout California by 2020. It would also encourage manufacturers across the country to stop selling animaltested products. The bill will bring California law in line with regulations in nearly 40 countries―including the European Union, India, Israel, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Turkey―that already prohibit the sale of new animal-tested cosmetics. (The California bill follows anti-animal-testing legislation proposed in Hawaii in January.)

Also last month, Members of the European Parliament from the EU’s Environment Committee called for a worldwide ban on the use of animals for cosmetics testing. The EU’s ban on animal-tested cosmetics went into effect in 2013, and the MEPs pointed out that this has not prevented the EU cosmetics industry from thriving and providing some 2 million jobs.

Although the U.S. government currently mandates that the toxicity of drugs be tested on animals and shown to be safe, analyzing the toxicity of household products like cosmetics and detergents on animals is not legally required. Yet the FDA and other agencies encourage manufacturers to conduct whatever toxicological tests they believe are appropriate to substantiate the safety of their products. Thus, every year companies subject millions of conscious animals to an extensive range of gruesome “safety tests” in which corrosive chemicals are dripped into their eyes, toxic compounds already known to be fatal to humans are pumped into their stomachs, caustic irritants are rubbed into their skin, or some other unspeakable torture results in a painful death.

Sadly, the abuse of animals in the name of product safety goes well beyond the substances being tested. The same kind of frustration we see among animal agriculture and slaughterhouse workers—who often react to the extreme stress of their jobs by lashing out at animals—is evident among lab technicians, who may be entirely desensitized to the pain and distress of animal victims. These test lab workers have been known to beat animals, who are routinely left to languish in filthy cages between experiments and denied even the slightest kindness.

Fortunately, a growing number of companies have abandoned animal testing in favor of humane alternatives, and many organizations are campaigning against the use of animals as test subjects.

What You Can Do:

1. Don’t buy products tested on animals. Look for the Leaping Bunny logo and download the app on your smartphone.

2. Then … Support companies such as The Body Shop, Dr. Bronner’s, and Kiss My Face that sell products not tested on animals. (Here’s a list of vegan makeup brands and here’s one of drug store brands.)

3. Urge your legislators to support the Humane Cosmetics Act (H.R. 2790), which would end the manufacture and sale of animal-tested cosmetics in the U.S. Click here to begin.

4. Contact companies you like and ask if they test on animals or use animal ingredients. If they do, tell them you oppose any animal testing and the use of animal ingredients.

5. Sign and share the global Forever Against Animal Testing petition, which will be presented to the United Nations when 8 million signatures have been collected.

6. Raise awareness. Wear t-shirts, stickers, and buttons that tell people you don’t support animal testing. You’ll find them at sites such as Café Press, Etsy, and Zazzle, as well as from vegan companies like Herbivore and Meaningful Paws.

7. Share this post with your family and friends and ask them to take action, too!




white-rabbitTwo important comments have long been made about testing cosmetics on animals in the United States. The first is that it is an extremely cruel practice responsible for the torture and death of countless rabbits, mice, guinea pigs, and other animals.

The second is that no federal law requires it. (Under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, cosmetics companies are prohibited from manufacturing and marketing misbranded or adulterated products, and they are responsible for substantiating the safety of their products and ingredients before those products reach the market. It does not say products must be tested on animals.) Nevertheless, manufacturers are encouraged to conduct whatever toxicological tests they believe are appropriate to substantiate the safety of their products. Thus, in an effort to cover their assets in the event of a lawsuit, companies subject conscious animals to an extensive range of painful “safety tests” in which corrosive chemicals are dripped into their eyes, toxic compounds already known to be fatal to humans are pumped into their stomachs, caustic irritants are rubbed into their skin, or an assortment of other unspeakable tortures that result in a painful death.

We can now add a third comment about testing cosmetics on animals in the US: Banning it might be just around the corner.

This week, a federal bill that would end animal testing for cosmetics was reintroduced* by US Representatives Martha McSally (R-AZ), Joe Heck (R-NV), Don Beyer (D-VA), and Tony Cárdenas (D-CA). If passed, HR 4148—the Humane Cosmetics Act—would make it illegal for any company to conduct cosmetic animal testing, or sell cosmetic products that have been tested on animals. (The US bill comes just days after a similar bill was introduced in Canada.)

I asked Pascaline Clerc, senior director of policy and advocacy of Animal Research Issues for The Humane Society of the United States, for more information about the bill and how the public can help get it passed.

Many countries around the world—including India, Israel, and the European Union—have banned cosmetics testing on animals. What keeps the US from prohibiting it?

People thought that animal testing for cosmetics was an issue of the past. Our #BeCrueltyFree campaign in the US, and worldwide with the help of Humane Society International, had to raise awareness on this issue.

There is really nothing keeping the US from prohibiting animal testing of cosmetics:

– multi-national companies have been investing in developing alternatives, and they already have to comply with such regulations in the EU and India by using faster, cheaper, and more predictive alternatives to traditional animal tests to test new ingredients.

– more than 30 countries have legislation in place banning animal testing for cosmetics.

– our neighbor Canada has introduced similar legislation last week.

– the issue has rallied bipartisan support.

– China, where animal testing is still required for imported products and for post-marketing monitoring, is slowly making progress, and our organization is actively working in the country to change policy and educate scientists on state-of-the-art in vitro methods to test cosmetics instead of using live animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs. The HSUS, HIS, and the Human Toxicology Project Consortium, in partnership with the Institute for In Vitro Sciences, provided intensive laboratory-based training.

What do you believe the chances are for this bill becoming law?

More than 30 countries—home to more than 1.7 billion consumers—now have legislation in place banning animal testing for cosmetics. Similar legislation to limit or end such testing is also under consideration in Australia, Brazil, Canada, South Korea, Taiwan, and now in the US. Of the 13 biggest importers of American cosmetics, eight countries have bans in place, legislation introduced or in negotiation, so if the US wants to remain a leader in the industry, the US will have to align their regulations with the rest of the world.

Multi-national companies have been investing in developing alternatives, and they already have to comply with such regulations in the EU and India by using faster, cheaper, and more predictive alternatives to traditional animal tests to test new ingredients. So, it would only make sense for them to have to follow the same regulations in the US and take advantage of cutting-edge technology.

Additionally, this bill has brought an unprecedented bipartisan quartet of sponsors.

What can the public do to help this bill pass?

There are two easy things that any consumers can do:

1st: Take action by urging your representative to support the Humane Cosmetics Act here.
2nd: Use your buying power to drive changes by only buying products from cruelty-free companies that you can find at


*This bill was previously introduced by former Representative James Moran (D-VA) in March of 2014. This new version focuses on economic issues and would go into effect in one year.

Beagles rescued

Two of the 200 beagles rescued from a lab in Brazil this year.

Two-thousand and thirteen was another remarkable year for animal advocacy—so remarkable that it’s difficult to choose just 12 stories to highlight. So much good news came out of India, for example, that it could be an entire category onto itself. And don’t get me started on all the incredible documentaries released in the last 12 months (though I’ll get back to that point later). Everyone has their favorite animal activism-related stories for 2013; here are the 12 that really made me cheer.

1. Congress holds US military accountable for killing animals (January)

For the first time, a bill was signed into law that demands accountability from the Department of Defense for its killing of more than 7,500 animals each year in medical training courses. As part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, lawmakers required Pentagon officials to present a plan that details the phasing out of “live tissue training,” in which combat medics operate on animals to learn how to treat gunshot wounds and severed limbs. (I admit I knew very little about this issue until a couple of years ago, when I was researching Bleating Hearts, but now it is an integral part of the book.)

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has been lobbying to end the cruel practice for years, especially in light of the available human-based alternative methods. Instead of using animals, the medics will be expected to use human simulators, which resemble mannequins designed to react like the human body while being operated on, including the hemorrhaging of fake blood. Holding the military accountable for how animals are used will help draft legislation to one day end the practice altogether.

2. EU ban on animal testing for cosmetics goes into effect (March)

Animal experiments to test cosmetics or their ingredients have been outlawed in the European Union since 2009, but companies have been free to sell products with a history of animal testing conducted outside Europe. That all changed on March 11, when the EU’s new directive went into effect, making it illegal to sell any cosmetics in the EU—including shampoos, soaps, perfumes, deodorants, and toothpastes—if they have been tested on animals anywhere in the world.

“Animal testing in the name of beauty has never been acceptable,” said RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant. “This landmark legislation at the end of a long campaign sends out a loud and clear message to other countries and those companies operating outside the EU.

“Many cosmetic companies are multinational but this legislation means that they can’t avoid a test ban in the EU by carrying out tests in other countries.

“If their products or ingredients have been newly-tested on animals then they cannot be sold in the EU, no matter where the testing took place.”

3. Japanese whalers go home with less than half of last year’s catch (April)

Complaining of “unforgivable sabotage” by Sea Shepherd, Japan’s whalers returned to port with their lowest Antarctic catch: 103 minke whales and no fin whales, the fewest since their so-called “research whaling” began in 1987, and well below the 1,000 whales they had hoped to kill. (In 2012, they caught 266 whales.) Japan’s Fisheries Agency said the whaling fleet spent nearly half its time in the Antarctic trying to avoid Sea Shepherd.

The new season of whaling in the Antarctic begins next month, and Japanese whalers intend to kill 1,035 whales, including 50 endangered fin whales and 50 endangered humpback whales. Something tells me that’s unlikely.

4. Britain announces it will ban all wild animals in circuses by 2015 (April)

This was a long time coming, especially after activists from Animal Defenders International released video footage showing a 57-year-old arthritic elephant named Annie being beaten with a pitchfork and hit in the face by workers from the Bobby Roberts Super Circus in 2011. Although a government Select Committee recommended that any ban on the use of wild animals in circuses should be limited to just big cats and elephants, the government rejected the suggestion and announced the ban will apply to all animals.

It is believed there are about 35 wild animals—including camels, zebras, and snakes—currently being used in circuses. The RSPCA and Born Free Foundation have offered to help circus owners re-home their animals.

5. EU upholds trade ban on seal fur products (April)

When it announced its decision to uphold a three-year-old ban on seal products, the General Court of the European Union surprised many, including some who had all but declared that the ban would be overturned. This latest attempt by Canada’s sealing industry to suspend the ban came when they offered the ridiculous argument that it hurts the livelihood of the Inuit—a group that kills a small fraction of seals in Canada and for whom a clear exemption in the ban has been made.

In upholding the ban, the Luxembourg-based court said it is valid because it fairly harmonizes the EU market while protecting the economic and social interests of Inuit communities.

The World Trade Organization announced in November that it too was upholding the ban.

National surveys consistently show that most Canadians want the commercial seal slaughter to end, and that they oppose the Canadian government using tax dollars to promote the sealing industry. About 90,000 seals were killed in this year’s “hunt.”

6. India bans dolphin-captivity parks (May)

India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests declared a ban on dolphinariums and other commercial entertainment that involves the capture and confinement of cetacean species such as orcas and bottlenose dolphins, saying that because dolphins are by nature “highly intelligent and sensitive,” they ought to be seen as “nonhuman persons” and should have “their own specific rights.” It added that it is “morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purposes.” The government said research had clearly established cetaceans are highly intelligent and sensitive, and that dolphins “should be seen as ‘non-human persons’ and as such should have their own specific rights.” (Just let those statements percolate in your brain a bit.)

The move came after weeks of protest against a dolphin park in the state of Kerala and several other marine mammal entertainment facilities that were to be built this year. “This opens up a whole new discourse of ethics in the animal protection movement in India,” said Puja Mitra from the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations. India joins Chile, Costa Rica, and Hungary as countries that ban the capture and import of cetaceans for the purpose of commercial entertainment.

Three months after outlawing dolphin abusement parks in the country, the Ministry of Environment and Forests banned raising other marine mammals like whales, walruses, and seals in similar parks.

7. Colombia bans wild animals in circuses (June)

“After a six-year public campaign that included scientific reviews and exposed extreme abuse of circus animals through undercover investigations, Colombia joined four other South American countries (Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay) to ban their use,” the Colombian Congress announced.

Animal Defenders International (ADI) led the campaign as part of its global “Stop Circus Suffering” initiative. “We congratulate the Colombian Congress for approving this Bill and are delighted that Colombia has shown that animals should not suffer for our entertainment,” said ADI Chief Executive, Jan Creamer.

There are about 25 circuses in Colombia, 18 of which use animals. Circus operators will have until 2015 to comply with the new regulations.

8. India imposes a ban on animal testing for cosmetics (June)

India’s groundbreaking move follows the example set by Israel and all the 28 European Union countries that have implemented bans on animal testing (as well the sale) of products tested on animals anywhere in the world.

“Keeping in view the cruelty towards animals involved, the testing of cosmetics on animals will now not be allowed in the country,” said India’s Drug Controller General G.N. Singh.

Two members of the Indian Parliament, MP Baijayant “Jay” Panda and MP Maneka Gandhi (founder of People for Animals, India’s largest animal welfare organization), have indicated that the country will also move toward a sales ban, which will prevent companies from outsourcing testing to third countries and importing the animal-tested cosmetics back into the country for sale.

Oh, India, if only you were so progressive when it comes to human rights.

9. Belgium bans wild animals in circuses (July)

The Belgian government’s decision follows a 2011 survey that revealed the difficulty for circuses to ensure the welfare of animals. Issues of concern include lack of space, lack of opportunity to swim for some species, and non-compliance with the temperature requirements.

For ten years, the Belgium group Global Action in the Interest of Animals has been campaigning for a ban on wild animals in circuses and the group was finally able to introduce and win approval for such a bill.

Sadly, the ban only covers “wild” animals. Cows, buffalo, pigs, llamas, camels, camels, ferrets, rabbits, dogs, cats, pigeons, geese, chickens, parrots, parakeets, ducks, horses, donkeys, ponies, sheep, and goats will still be allowed.

10. Costa Rica closes zoos, sends animals to rescue centers (July)

Citing concerns about animal captivity and welfare, the government announced it was closing the country’s two public zoos and transferring the 400 animals to private animal-rescue centers around the country. There, those who will be able will be rehabilitated and released back into the wild. “We are getting rid of the cages and reinforcing the idea of interacting with biodiversity in botanical parks in a natural way,” Environment Minister René Castro said at a press conference to announce the planned closures. “We don’t want animals in captivity or enclosed in any way unless it is to rescue or save them.”

Incidentally, Costa Rica banned circuses with animals in 2002 and has also outlawed hunting for “sport.”

11. Brazilian lab from which animal activists freed beagles permanently shuts down (November)

They came, they saw, they rescued 200 beagles. Two weeks later, the lab the activists had raided—the Instituto Royal in Sao Paulo—was closed. For good. Seems the lab’s operating license was suspended by the city government, as police investigated allegations of animal abuse.

The lab had carried out pre-clinical trials for drugs. Now, Brazilian drug makers seeking approval for such medications must do testing outside of the country. Or perhaps it’s time for the industry to rethink the whole “animal testing” model.

12. China moves to ban animal testing for cosmetics (November)

People are often surprised when they learn that testing shampoos, makeup, and soaps on animals remains legal in 8 out of 10 countries. Up until their announcement, which will go into effect in June 2014, China remained the only nation with mandatory animal testing requirements for domestically manufactured cosmetic products.

With a population of 1.3 billion, China is the world’s second-largest economy, making this a move with huge ramifications for animals. Humane Society International estimates that every year as many as 3,000,000 rabbits, mice, and other animals may be victims of cosmetics testing in China.

But it’s not just the millions of animals who will benefit. Now, brands that have refused to compromise their values and test their cosmetic products on animals—including LUSH, The Body Shop, JASON, and Paul Mitchell—will be able to trade in China, while Chinese brands will now be able to sell in the EU.

Other stories of the year worth noting:

CITES votes to protect sharks (March)

Sonora becomes the first Mexican state to ban bullfighting (May)

National Institutes of Health announces it will retire hundreds of chimpanzees to sanctuary (June)

The Animal Welfare Board of India recommends banning all animals from circuses (August)

Los Angeles City Council bans bullhooks (October)

Indian court orders tortured elephant to be freed (December)

Music groups cancel their SeaWorld performances (December).

I’d also like to point out what a remarkable year it was for animal rights/vegan documentaries. Give Me Shelter, The Ghosts in Our Machine, Live and Let Live, Turlock, Lion Ark, and Speciesism: The Movie are just a few titles that come to mind, but it’s hard to imagine a film that has captured the attention of the public and mainstream media—not to mention animal abusers—like Blackfish; indeed, I will be shocked if it doesn’t take home the Academy Award for Best Documentary.

Andrew_ZollmanLGBT Compassion is a new group run by gay San Francisco Bay Area animal advocates, in affiliation with the non-profit organization Bay Area Vegetarians. Their activism focuses primarily on farmed-animal issues, though they also campaign against rodeos and other injustices they feel strongly about. When I caught up with founder Andrew Zollman he was working on the group’s campaign to eliminate live poultry markets in the Bay Area. He took a little time to answer some questions about LGBT Compassion.

Please tell me about LGBT Compassion. When was the group founded and what was the inspiration for creating it?

For about four years, I’ve been working with gay friends who are members of Bay Area Vegetarians on various campaigns, including issues that touch us personally, such as the Gay Rodeo (which Warren Jones and Eric Mills campaigned against many years before I become involved). Also, we want to promote the health benefits of plant-based diets to the LGBT community, as there are some sub-cultures that are particularly resistant to vegetarianism for various reasons, contributing to many of our friends suffering from preventable health problems at relatively young ages. The website was launched in April 2009 primarily to share our information about the live chicken vendors, but I hope to use it to reach out to other members of the LGBT community and inspire them to make compassionate choices ― not only for animals, but for other social justice issues that we should be concerned about.

There are many prominent gay animal advocates, such as Eric Mills from Action for Animals, Dan Mathews from PETA and Nathan Runkle from Mercy For Animals. I think we’re compelled to help animals due to empathy we’ve developed from our own experiences of oppression and abuse, and we’ve also developed useful strengths and skills from learning to cope with and fight discrimination. Not being accepted by mainstream society has helped us to be independent and true to our own ethics, which, of course, helps when being a veg*n and/or an animal activist.

We also hope to help dispel the stereotype that gay people are self-absorbed, materialistic and vapid (like television and movies usually portray us), as well as help show the diversity in vegans and animal activists.

What outreach efforts is LGBT Compassion using, and what do you find to be most effective?

We’ve leafleted with Vegan Outreach pamphlets at Gay Pride, and people were very receptive. We’ve leafleted against the Gay Rodeo in the Castro (alongside the rodeo promoters) and also directly contacted their sponsors ― likely contributing to the rodeo’s cancellation this year. We’ve conducted monthly protests with leafleting at KFCs. We’re active on Facebook and Yahoo! Groups. It’s difficult to tell which is most effective, but we’ve seen results from all activities. I also plan on soon showing videos and distributing Vegan Outreach fliers in the Castro neighborhood.

What kind of equipment will you use to show the videos?

I have a 22″ LCD TV/DVD player, with a deep-cycle battery power supply. I put it all on a microwave cart.

You mentioned doing outreach at Gay Pride and leafleting against gay rodeos. Do you think organizers of LGBT-related events and those who attend them are more receptive to a group like yours than they might be to other animal advocacy groups?

I think that members of the local gay community do pay more attention to us, as many of them know us personally, or recognize us as “regular” people in many of the same social circles, and see that we’re not stereotypes of vegans and animal activists. It’s also difficult for them to label our protests as anti-gay, thus avoiding the issue of animal cruelty ― though they still sometimes try. There’s also the element of peer pressure, when they learn that people within their own community are making compassionate and healthy choices. I believe that our ability to work from within an influential community in a major city can be very powerful.

Recently, there has been a surge of vegan food options in the Castro neighborhood, where we’ve long complained that few existed. We’ve also recently seen more people in the LGBT community become vegan or express interest. We’re excited to see these changes, and hope to help accelerate them.

You have a couple of campaigns that assist people who have AIDS. Some advocates, such as Dan Mathews, have been criticized by the gay community for not supporting animal testing in HIV/AIDS research. How does LGBT Compassion respond to such criticism?

I can’t speak for other gay activists, and we probably have different perspectives. I had friends and acquaintances who died before effective medications were available, and I’m happy that people can now have long, productive lives with HIV, but it’s unfortunate that these advances are a result of untold animal suffering. I don’t know the extent that animal testing materially contributes to the advancement of HIV/AIDS treatment, and I am doubtful of its value. I do know that there are some non-animal testing methods being employed that are effective. I don’t disapprove of anyone using medicine that resulted from animal testing, as the testing has already been done and they’re not directly contributing to it. 

Currently, there are many obviously abusive, unnecessary or redundant animal tests being conducted that I’d prefer to eliminate first, before arguing whether any testing is productive or “necessary.” However, I do try to avoid supporting campaigns that support animal testing for the treatment of any disease.

Additionally, I’ve gathered anecdotal evidence — confirmed by Dr. Milton Mills from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine — that a healthy plant-based diet may tremendously benefit persons with HIV, and I prefer to promote that information in the hopes of delaying, reducing or eliminating the need for medicine, just as with any other disease.

What lessons does the animal rights movement have to learn from other social justice movements like gay rights?

I suppose that, just like people who have advanced LGBT rights and other civil rights, we need to put the goal of necessary social reform above our fears of social ostracization, physical harm and threats from the government and that social change will definitely come if we fight, speak up and make ourselves known to everyone.

As you know, after the passage in November of California’s Prop 8 and Prop 2, some advocates of same-sex marriage accused voters of caring more about chickens than gay people. How do you respond to someone who makes that claim?

Following is a letter I submitted to the editor of a local gay newspaper, the Bay Area Reporter:

“I’ve been hearing complaints from fellow members of the gay community that animals now have more ‘rights’ than we do, due to the passages of California’s Propositions 2 (farm animal confinement standards) and 8 (elimination of the right to same-sex marriage). While I understand the intent of this assertion, it’s problematic for both our community and the animals.

“Animals received no rights with Proposition 2. Some animals (primarily egg-laying hens) are simply granted a few more inches of living space, and relieved of a little suffering during their short, miserable lives. For more information about what most egg-laying hens endure on factory farms, please visit

“The comparison is not valid. It trivializes the suffering of animals and the hard volunteer work on Proposition 2 by gay animal advocates like me. It trivializes the issue of equal rights, comparing our current lack of one of them to the suffering and abuse of animals raised for food. It also sounds like we would prefer that they continue to suffer until we receive such rights.

“Compassion is not finite. The animals did not steal the voters’ compassion from us, and the majority of the voters who voted yes on 2 also voted no on 8. For some of the voters, they are completely different issues: granting ‘innocent’ animals a little relief from cruelty while protecting our food safety and environment, versus trying to ‘protect’ society by preventing gay people from actions that are against their religious views.

“As a group that has experienced oppression and abuse, we should be sympathetic to others who are abused (especially those who have no voice of their own), and celebrate when they receive a little relief, instead of complaining.

“If people wish to continue to bring attention to this issue, it would be more appropriate to use the word ‘compassion’ instead of rights.”

What are some ways advocates can help both animals and the LGBT rights movement?

I don’t really know, but I think it’s obvious they are intertwined. From what I’ve experienced with my non-gay friends and during Proposition 8, all the compassionate people out there — particularly animal advocates — are already doing a wonderful job fighting for LGBT rights! I would ask that they continue to help fight for the right to marriage in California and other states.

Vivisectionists are looking over their shoulders a little more. University police are double-checking locks. Research labs are reviewing security measures. Yes, World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week is almost here. From April 18th to the 26th animal activists across the US, France, Ireland, Israel, South Africa, the UK and elsewhere will be staging protests and media events to raise awareness about the millions of animals who suffer and die in laboratories every year around the world. These animals are subjected to caustic chemicals, addictive drugs, electric shock, ionizing radiation, chemical and biological weapons, deprivation of food and water, psychological torture and many other atrocities, all in the name of “science.”  


According to Michael Budkie, executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! (SAEN), World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week dates back to the early ‘80s when a number of coordinated protests took place at US primate centers, including those at Harvard University, the University of Wisconsin and the University of California, Davis. “It has grown from being observed on a single day, April 24th, to an entire week to allow more people to participate,” says Michael, who, after earning a degree in animal health technology from the University of Cincinnati, found himself working inside a laboratory. “That’s what woke me up to the issue,” he says. “Basically, animal health technicians do one of two things: they work for veterinarians in private practice or they work in research laboratories.” After engaging in lab work, such as oral dosing procedures that are part of the infamous LD50 tests, Michael quit to become an advocate for animals. “If that doesn’t make you an activist, nothing will.”


Michael told me about a report that details the duplication of animal experimentation within the National Eye Institute. “According to the information we’ve gathered over the last year, NEI is currently funding primate experimentation at 26 laboratories in 15 states involving 53 grants, which utilizes roughly $100 million over five years. But the bottom line is they are funding the same paradigm — the same experimental procedures ― over and over and over again. Even if someone had doubts about the validity of animal research or felt there might be some value in it, why do we need to be doing the same thing at least 53 times simultaneously?”


Getting involved in World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week can be as simple as spreading the word. Here are five things you can do:


1. Educate yourself. Learn the facts behind animal experimentation by reading the articles and fact sheets on the SAEN site. Check out resources on other sites, such as the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Americans for Medical Advancement. You can also read books such as Animal Liberation by Peter Singer, which gives readers an inside look at the research industry and its use of animals.


2. Educate others. Talk to friends and family about what is going on behind the closed doors of research labs. Add an auto-signature to your email with a link to SAEN. Post information on social-networking sites. Forward this post others.


3. Participate in a World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week event ― or plan one of your own. The goal of WLALW is to raise awareness about the horrors of animal experimentation. It’s important that the public understand the toll in terms of animal suffering, wasted tax dollars and the danger to human health. SAEN will be happy to help you.


4. Send letters to elected officials. SAEN is asking people to contact their senators and representatives to request a General Accounting Office audit of the National Eye Institute around the duplication of research projects. If you live in the US, you can find contact information for your elected officials here.


5. Support World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week financially. Working with local activists to support protests, news conferences and tabling is costly. SAEN provides all support to local groups and activists free of charge. Their communication costs, travel costs (to work directly with local groups) and materials costs are covered by donations from people like you. Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization.  Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law. Please send all donations to:

Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
PMB 280 1081-B State Route 28
Milford, Ohio 45150


Remember: animals suffer in labs around the world 365 days a year. Anything you can do to help is appreciated.

hls1A new documentary was released this week exposing the global primate trade and the treatment of these animals inside the notorious Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) testing facilities in England. Produced by Animal Defenders International (ADI), Save the Primates shows animals being taken from their homes in the wild and delivered directly to laboratories. HLS in Cambridgeshire is a major contract testing operation for multinational product brands; it can hold up to 550 monkeys at a time. During ADI’s one-year undercover investigation, 217 monkeys were killed in just five studies.

This new investigation is part of a European initiative to ban the use of primates in experiments and is being coordinated by ADI and the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS). Among the horrors Save the Primates reveals:

In South America, owl monkeys scream as they are torn from their families in the rainforest to be taken to Colombia for malaria experiments.

In Vietnam, monkeys frantically rattle their tiny, rusting cages while being held captive by a primate supplier approved by the UK Home Office. (In a single year, this business supplied nearly 500 monkeys to HLS.)

In the UK, primates are used in commercial testing at HLS in Cambridgeshire. The video shows struggling monkeys strapped into chairs and forced to inhale products. Many of the animals are housed in one-cubic-meter cages and then taken out to be held down by workers as tubes are forced down their throats.

The new “Save the Primates” report and investigation are part of a comprehensive study linking primate research and the international primate trade to the alternatives that are now available. Hoping to secure Europe-wide support for an end primate tests, ADI and NAVS have produced Save the Primates in English, French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish.

“There is a unique opportunity in Europe to finally begin phasing out experiments on primates,” says ADI Chief Executive Jan Creamer. “Nobody looking at the undercover footage of monkeys at this leading UK laboratory could fail to be moved by the stress and suffering these animals are forced to endure. Yet there are alternatives to using monkeys in these tests. Now that the truth of everyday suffering has been revealed, we must seize the opportunity to put an end to it.”

To watch the documentary, read the ADI report and learn how you can take action, please click here. You can also visit the SHAC site for other news and ways to help.

From the same vivisectionists who helped give us the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act comes Launched by the US-based Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), the Web site is devoted to resources on “animal rights extremism.”


The site says that “Animal rights extremists … pose a real threat to medical progress and the scientists who dedicate their lives to improving the lives of others.” Well, as long as they’re human, presumably.


According to Carrie Wolinetz, FASEB’s Director of Scientific Affairs and Public Relations for the Office of Public Affairs, “We wanted researchers who have been targeted by these groups to have centralized access to the resources available to assist them. Scientists need to know that the research community supports them and they are not alone.”


FASEB apparently hopes to attract the younger set: there’s a page on the site featuring cartoon animals and photos of animals in all kinds of cute poses. Conspicuously absent are any shots of mice left with untreated ulcers, immobilized monkeys locked in torture devices or cats with electrodes planted in their brains.


The Web site’s sources include the ironically named National Animal Interest Alliance and the front group we all know and love: the Center for Consumer Freedom (runner-up for the Ironic Name Award).


For reasons why animal activists are working to end animal testing, please visit

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