By Makenna Adams
Animals should have the right to freedom. They should have the right to frolick, to forage, to find satisfaction, safety, and sanctuary. Us humans, as caretakers of the wild and temporary occupants of this planet, have no right to compromise any of those rights for animals. Yet far too many corporations that complete cosmetic testing on animals disagree.
Animal testing for cosmetic purposes effects 192.1 million animals every year. And that number continues to grow at the same rate of the expanding beauty industry, as companies increase production of products to meet excessive consumer demand. A 2019 report conducted by PETA revealed that the top 10 users of dogs were: China, the United States, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany and India. Moreover, the top 10 users of monkeys were: the United States, China, Japan, Brazil, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, India and South Korea. These 10 countries account for a majority of global cosmetic production, which means that most cosmetic products are tested cruelly on animals. But what goes on in animal testing labs? An inspiring campaign aimed at raising animal rights shows just the harrowing reality of life for a test animal.
The short film Save Ralph follows a day in the life of Ralph, a test bunny. The charismatic character, animated with stop motion, explains that really, life is not so bad for him. Yet events in the film expose the truth: each day, Ralph is wrenched from his cozy home and slammed into the confines of a test space, where humans force test products into his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, and onto his back and sides, to the point where he becomes chemically burned. At the end of the day, Ralph struggles to walk off screen, which demonstrates the horrifying extent to which test animals are abused. In real life, once animals are so broken down that they are no longer fit for testing, they are killed as cheaply as possible, in violent ways. I’ll spare you the specifics, but use your imagination, and understand that likely, an animal has been killed in that fashion.
Save Ralph has garnered over 1.2 million views since its release on YouTube on April 6. The project has been in production since 2019, when director Spencer Sesser first came up with the campaign idea. In an interview with the Humane Society International, Jeff Flocken, president, urges, “Several countries targeted by the campaign, including the U.S. have already introduced legislation to stop this brutal, archaic, and unnecessary practice. We just need public momentum to help push these laws over the finish line.”
Certainly, public momentum is a must if we want to cessate cosmetic animal testing—which we do. Arguably, the most important way of ending animal suffering is by passing anti-animal testing legislation. Troy Siegle, Vice President of Research and Toxicology with ASI, contends that the goal of the Save Raplh campaign “is really focused on changing laws and forming regulations to remove animal testing requirements where they exist, and to insert water-tight animal testing and sales bands for cosmetics to close the door on this ever happening again.” The “animal testing requirements,” that Siegele cites refer to the legal mandate in many countries that cosmetic companies must conduct to tests of their products on animals before they enter the market. Unfortunately, here in the U.S., we have not removed animal testing requirements. Officials justify this atrocity with the claim that without testing in animals, it is unsafe to release a product for consumers. Yet modern technology has granted us the ability to run the necessary safety tests, and not on animals.
The practices that are used to test on animals were developed in the 1940s and 50s. After years of innovation, companies now have technology at their disposal that can perform safety tests without involving animal suffering. Technology has granted us the ability to reconstruct human skin and eye tissue. We can conduct skin allergy tests on humans safely. Compared to animal tests, technological practices are faster, more efficient, more accurate, more reliable, but most importantly, they are cruelty free. New technology is a win for consumers, manufacturers, the environment, and animals.
Undeniably, the atrocity of animal testing is a major issue. Yet the issue can come to an end with the help of consumers. I urge you to shop cruelty free—it’s easy. I’ve linked a resource from an incredible site called Cruelty-Free Kitty, which posts information about top brands that operate free of animal suffering. While shopping, look for the cruelty free emblem (a little bunny on the back of product packaging).
Furthermore, the issue can come to an end with the help of officials who actively take anti-animal testing stances. The Biden-Harris administration has outlined a 100-day plan for animal protection, and while they have enumerated many admirable goals, there is no mention of an effort to terminate animal testing. You have the power to change this: write to officials, sign petitions, and get the word out that you demand an end to animal suffering. Take action now to show you care.