7 Countries That Made Giant Leaps to Saving Animals From People’s Cruelty


The way we treat animals reflects how humane we really are. From ruling in court who gets to keep a pet after a divorce to making animal protection part of the constitution, governments and activists keep searching for more ways to guarantee the well-being of wild animals and pets.

Here at Bright Side, we’ve looked at the countries with the most prominent animal protection laws and think they can serve as good examples for the rest of the world.

1. Denmark bought the country’s last 4 circus elephants in order to let them free.

7 Countries That Made Giant Leaps to Saving Animals From People’s Cruelty
© Depositphotos

In September of 2019, the government of Denmark paid $1,600,000 to buy the country’s last 4 circus elephants named Ramboline, Lara, Djunga, and Jenny. As more and more countries ban wild animals in zoos and circuses, Denmark is doing its part too. Some wild animals were allowed in circuses in Denmark until now, including elephants, sea lions, and zebras. But the Danish government plans to introduce a blanket ban regarding all animals in circuses very shortly. It’s not yet clear where the 4 freed elephants will spend their retirement, but the government promised they’ll be guaranteed the highest level of well-being.

2. Austria banned experiments on all apes.

7 Countries That Made Giant Leaps to Saving Animals From People’s Cruelty

In 2006, Austria banned experiments on apes unless they’re conducted in the interest of a particular animal. It’s interesting that the majority of countries that have similar laws banned only experiments on great apes which include chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, while the Austrian law also includes gibbons. This means that Austria banned experiments on all apes which is a meaningful step toward ending animal abuse in biomedical research.

3. The UK sends cruel pet owners to jail for 51 weeks.

7 Countries That Made Giant Leaps to Saving Animals From People’s Cruelty
© Combat_Panda91 / Reddit

The Animal Welfare Act of 2006 is the current legislation on animal cruelty in England and Whales. This act reviewed and replaced previous laws and introduced harsher penalties for pet cruelty and neglect. In particular, an irresponsible and cruel pet owner can face a $20,000 fine, a maximum jail term of 51 weeks, and a lifetime ban on keeping pets. The act also raised the minimum age for owning a pet from 12 years to 16 years and banned the cutting or removal of animals’ tails for cosmetic purposes.

4. Germany included animal protection in its constitution.

In 2002, Germany amended its constitution in such a way that it granted rights to animals, just like it did to people. While previous laws only regulated the conditions in which animals are supposed to be held, the new provisions covered the rights of all sorts of animal groups from pets to animals held in zoos. The country never stops searching for new ways to protect animals and one of its circuses, Circus Roncalli, now uses holograms instead of living animals (as seen in the picture above), setting a good example for the rest of the world.

5. Switzerland treats animals as social beings.

7 Countries That Made Giant Leaps to Saving Animals From People’s Cruelty
© GunderM / Reddit

If there’s an animal paradise on earth, this very well could be Switzerland. The country banned the live boiling of lobsters and the usage of dog barking inhibitors. They also obliged pet owners and people involved in the keeping and transporting of animals to take classes before acquiring or dealing with them. Additionally, the country’s legislation perceives animals as social beings and insists they should be guaranteed a healthy social life. In particular, cats should have daily contact with a person or visual contact with other cats, while guinea pigs shouldn’t be kept unless they’re in pairs.

6. Hong Kong punishes animal abusers with a fine of $2 million or 3 years in prison and plans to strengthen the penalty.

In 2019, the country’s government suggested strengthening its animal protection laws and imposing an even greater punishment on animal abusers which implies a fine of $2 million or 10 years in prison. The state also plans to give more responsibility to governmental officials and entitle them to issue so-called “improvement notices” that will list all the things that pet owners should improve on to ensure a good life for their pets. Those who abuse animals may even be forbidden to keep them for a specified period of time or forever.

7. Alaska and the US enable the court to decide who gets custody of a pet when a couple divorces.

7 Countries That Made Giant Leaps to Saving Animals From People’s Cruelty
© Universal Pictures

The law that came into force in 2017 implies that courts should treat pets almost like children when it comes to divorce. Unlike it’s usually done, the judge can make a decision about who will keep the pet or if it’ll be kept in joint custody depending on what’s best for the pet rather than for the owners. What matters here is whether a person has enough adequate space, time, and resources to take care of the pet and guarantee their well-being.

Do you think there should be more initiatives like this in all parts of the world? Does your country have an animal protection law?

Preview photo credit Depositphotos