Ground-Breaking Victories for Animals in 2016

Posted by on December 30, 2016 | Permalink

2016 has been another important year for helping animals, with a number of ground-breaking achievements. With your support, PETA UK helped scrap plans for a huge chicken factory farm, helped prioritise non-animal test methods in the world’s largest chemical-testing programme, persuaded top high-street retailers to ditch down feathers, helped shut down two greyhound racetracks, and reached millions of people with our animal rights and pro-vegan messages.

Here’s a look back at just some of the many highlights of 2016:

Opposing Factory Farms

PETA played a vital role in defeating a potentially disastrous factory-farming proposal. After thousands of PETA supporters voiced their objections, plans to build an enormous chicken factory farm – which would have confined hundreds of thousands of chickens to filthy, crowded sheds – were rejected in North Yorkshire. Also, a joint letter from PETA and other groups prompted the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs to abandon plans to replace current statutory codes for the treatment of farmed chickens with industry-created guidelines – a move that would have undoubtedly made the animals’ already abysmal living conditions even worse.

Additionally, PETA’s exposés of British pig and chicken farms have been viewed by millions of people and continue to drive record numbers of orders of our free vegan starter kit.

Exposing Down Cruelty

After learning from PETA that workers on goose farms step on the birds’ delicate wings and necks, tightly bind their feet together, and rip their feathers out as they bleed and scream, numerous companies banned down feathers from future collections – including Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Warehouse, White Stuff, Hobbs, Dr Martens, Nigel Hall Menswear, Oasis, Primark, Reiss, Wallis, and Boohoo. And we’re working on the rest.

Helping Animals in Labs

PETA helped persuade the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to prioritise non-animal test methods. We also helped bring about an ECHA requirement that companies participating in the European Union’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) programme – the largest animal-testing programme in the world – demonstrate that they test on animals only as a last resort, potentially preventing hundreds of thousands of animals from suffering and being killed in chemical tests.

PETA scientists also submitted an extensive dossier detailing opportunities for replacing the use of animals to the Netherlands National Committee for the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. The report included our advice and that of other stakeholders on how the country can work towards the historic goal of ending the use of animals in safety tests for chemicals, food ingredients, pesticides, veterinary medicines, and vaccines by 2025.

Fighting for Animals in Circuses and on Racecourses

After hearing from thousands of PETA supporters, planning chiefs in Merton and Birmingham accepted plans to close Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium and Hall Green Stadium, respectively. This brings us a giant step closer to closing down the archaic greyhound-racing industry, in which dogs are treated like commodities, typically kept in cages, made to wear muzzles, and often abandoned, mutilated, or killed if they don’t make the grade.

Protest against greyhound races at Hall Green stadium


When Scotland announced a public consultation regarding the treatment of animals in circuses, PETA provided government officials with evidence that such animals are whipped, beaten, chained, and driven insane by intensive confinement. Thousands of Scottish PETA supporters made their wishes for a ban known, as did compassionate celebrities who supported our campaign. Scotland has since announced plans to ban wild animals from travelling circuses.

Getting Fur off the High Street

This year, as a result of PETA’s work, French clothing company The Kooples stopped selling angora wool and banned all animal fur from future collections – a policy effective in its 330 stores worldwide. Also, after decades of pressure from PETA and our international affiliates, fashion giant Armani dropped fur. These victories will spare thousands of rabbits the pain of being violently sheared and will prevent countless foxes, raccoons, and other animals from being trapped, electrocuted, bludgeoned, or even skinned alive.

Promoting Vegan Living

This year, PETA helped millions of people make kind choices for animals. More than 75,000 people took PETA UK’s vegan pledge or ordered one of our free vegan starter kits. In January alone, more than 6,000 people took our vegan new year pledge – and more than 88 per cent of participants said they planned to stay vegan. And every day, more people tell us that PETA has inspired them to make compassionate choices.

PETA’s popular vegan web content – such as our guide to vegan cheeses or accidentally vegan snacks – has been viewed millions of times this year, offering advice to people looking for cruelty-free alternatives to meat, dairy foods, eggs, and other animal-derived products.

Around the World

PETA’s international affiliates also had a monumental year, from PETA US’ campaign that pushed SeaWorld to announce an end to its captive orca–breeding programme – meaning future generations of orcas won’t have to face a lifetime of confinement to a tiny concrete tank, deprived of everything that’s natural and important to them – to a landmark case in Australia in which a shearer pleaded guilty to cruelty to animals for the first time in history. The shearer’s charges followed a PETA US investigation which documented that Australian wool workers beat scared sheep in the face with electric clippers and punched and stamped on their heads and necks.

In total, PETA UK’s websites received more than 6 million visits this year, and our Facebook posts reached an average of 7 million people each month. We also spread our animal rights message to millions by getting PETA’s work featured in outlets such as The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Times, International Business Times, Vogue, InStyle, Elle, Esquire, and Stylist as well as VICE News and BuzzFeed and news segments on the BBC, Sky News, and Channel 5.

“Animal rights will happen if we try, and we try hard. So, please, do everything you can possibly think of to do – all the time.” – PETA UK Managing Director Ingrid Newkirk

We thank our members and supporters – whose numbers now surpass 1 million – for making our work this year possible. Here are some ways you can help make our work for animals in 2017 even more successful: