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Over 15 Years Of Investigating Animal Exploitation

For over fifteen years, Animal Equality has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about what happens to billions of animals behind the closed doors of farms and slaughterhouses all around the world. We were one of the first organisations to expose the horror of the animal agriculture industry and to date, we have investigated over 800 facilities.

Our investigative work challenges exploitative industries and companies which, with billions of pounds at their disposal, hold great influence over institutional decisions around the world.

Here are fifteen issues that Animal Equality has focused on investigating since we were founded in 2006, along with what we have uncovered and some of the achievements we’ve had for animals as a result. 

1. Undercover Investigations Inside Pig Farms

Over the years, we have released more than 20 investigations into the pig meat industry worldwide, from the UK to Brazil.

We conducted our first pig farm investigation in 2010, when we uncovered what was happening inside 172 farms in Spain. Sixty Animal Equality investigators worked tirelessly for two years to document and expose the horrific reality that pigs are subjected to in the meat industry in Spain. 

This was only the beginning of our work inside pig farms. In February 2012, Animal Equality released a first-of-its-kind exposé inside Harling Farm in the UK. This investigation was the result of two months of undercover work inside an intensive farm. As a result of our investigation, two workers were convicted after being found guilty of multiple acts of cruelty to animals.

In 2019, Animal Equality’s investigative team in Italy was accompanied by national television inside a pig farm in Lombardy, a region in northern Italy, where – once again – our cameras showed the appalling living conditions animals are forced to endure.

2. Inside the Chicken Meat Industry

Chickens are among the most exploited and abused land animals on the planet. We investigated our first chicken farm in 2016. That was only the beginning of a long journey.

In 2017, our team of brave investigators in India published a shocking investigation exposing the horrific practices and abuses that millions of chickens are subjected to in the meat industry. 

In the UK, we have investigated chicken farms on 20 occasions – all of which were linked to major companies and supermarkets – and we’ve found extreme suffering of birds on every farm.

3. Investigations Inside Slaughterhouses 

Over the last 13 years, our team has documented what happens inside slaughterhouses all around the world, releasing 19 investigations in abattoirs to date. Our first was in Spain in 2008, when we infiltrated five slaughterhouses in the north of the country, exposing for the first time the systemic cruelty and mistreatment of animals in these horrific places. 

In 2017, Animal Equality documented the widespread cruelty perpetuated in slaughterhouses in the Mexican state of Jalisco, gathering evidence of the conditions in which animals were kept and then killed in several facilities. As a result, we launched an initiative to demand the criminalisation of acts of cruelty towards farmed animals, and thanks to our work, a historic legal reform was approved.

4. The True Cost of Eggs

The first time our investigators entered an egg farm was in Germany in 2015, and since then we’ve continued to conduct investigations to reveal the cruelty of the egg industry worldwide.

In 2017, we released the first investigation inside the Italian egg industry, which started our work campaigning to end cages for hens. In 2018, we published shocking images of the suffering of caged hens in farms owned by some of the biggest egg producers in both the UK and Germany. And in 2020, we again infiltrated a UK egg farm and found shocking scenes of baby chicks confined in metal cages.

5. Exposing the Cruelty of Dairy

We first exposed the horrific reality of the dairy industry in 2016 when we carried out an undercover investigation inside a dairy farm in the UK, documenting systemic violence towards calves. One farm worker was convicted of animal cruelty as a result of our investigation.

In the UK, we’ve also investigated ‘high-welfare’ dairies including a farm supplying Marks & Spencer and another which was a Soil Association-certified organic farm which supplied Waitrose. We evidenced that farms like these also cause extreme suffering to cows, despite their marketing claims.

In 2019, Animal Equality’s team of investigators released a shocking investigation inside a calf ranch in Nebraska, USA – a facility housing 11,000 calves and owned by a supplier of the company which produces famous cheese brands including Babybel and The Laughing Cow. 

6. Live Transport: Journeys to Death

Since 2013, Animal Equality has released a number of investigations into the unacceptable live transport conditions that animals face in Europe. Our investigations have followed young lambs and cows transported along routes that are up to 2,000 km long, on journeys lasting for hours, weeks, and sometimes even months.

We have also documented the scandal of two transport ships that carried huge numbers of animals and found themselves adrift for months in the Mediterranean Sea, with animals languishing on board. The case led to a complaint submitted by Spain to the European Commission.

In 2020, the European Parliament approved the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the transport of live animals, which after 18 months of work, recognised that there are gaps in existing laws which need to be addressed.

7. Our Mission to Ban Foie Gras

Since 2012, Animal Equality has been working all over the world to ban foie gras, a so-called ‘delicacy’ which is produced by force-feeding ducks and geese.

Of our multiple foie gras farm investigations conducted in France and Spain, the first was carried out undercover in Spain, and following our complaints, disciplinary action was initiated against the owner of one of the most famous restaurants in the world, Mugaritz.

In 2018, actor and animal advocate, Peter Egan, and TV veterinarian, Emma Milne, joined Animal Equality to document the cruel force-feeding practice on a foie gras farm in France.

Thanks to our investigations in France and Spain and our lobbying work, in 2014 India became the first country in the world to ban the importation of foie gras.

We have been campaigning since 2017 for the UK Government to ban foie gras imports and have made significant progress on the issue.

8. Live Animal Markets and the Dog and Cat Meat Trade

Animal Equality has carried out investigations into markets where live animals are sold and brutally slaughtered. Our team have recorded shocking images from markets around the world.

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, in April 2020, we showed the public the reality of these markets and started an international campaign to demand the immediate closure of live animal markets around the world.

In some countries, dogs and cats are sold in live animal markets, and they also suffer on farms – which we have been investigating since 2013. Over the years, our investigative team has conducted six different field investigations into the dog and cat meat trade. Our work in China in 2013 led to various local complaints that prompted the authorities to close 33 dog and cat meat traders and a slaughterhouse.

9. The Link Between Deforestation and Animal Farming

Factory farming is the main cause of illegal deforestation and fires in the Amazon rainforest and the Pantanal wetlands in Brazil.

Animal Equality travelled to these regions to document this devastation and released a campaign called ‘Why is Brazil Burning?’, which exposed how the meat industry is causing environmental destruction and immense suffering to a huge number of animals.

In Mexico, our investigative team used drone technology to obtain aerial images of two farms where more than 89,000 pigs are confined.

In addition to collecting video material on the extreme conditions in which these animals live, our team conducted a geographical analysis of the area to document the devastating impact these farms are having on the local habitat, presented in a short documentary titled ‘Enemy of the Planet’.

We reported 44 farms to the authorities, asking that they be held accountable for damage caused to the environment and urging for the closure of these facilities.

10. The Silent Suffering of Fish

Animal Equality has conducted several investigations into intensive fish farming and the fishing industry.

The images and footage we captured inside a Scottish Salmon Company slaughterhouse, a company that supplies some of the largest supermarkets in the United Kingdom and exports to over 20 countries around the world, shocked the public.

The investigation was the first of its kind to be published in the United Kingdom, and it showed numerous salmon being slaughtered while showing clear signs of consciousness.

India is the second largest producer of fish in the world.

Animal Equality released an investigation into the fishing and aquaculture industries in several regions in India which are known for their fish production.

The investigation showed the terrible conditions that fish face on the intensive farms.

11. Male Chick Culling

Our first investigation inside the egg industry was conducted in Spain in 2016. Our footage revealed the systematic slaughter of male chicks – as they don’t produce eggs, male chicks born into the egg industry are treated as a waste product. They are crushed, suffocated, or ground up while conscious. 

Thanks to our work and our campaign to end male chick culling, Italy has joined countries like France and Germany in taking a historic step towards banning the selective killing of male chicks by 2026.

12. Gadhimai: Animal Sacrifice Festival

Every five years, the Gadhimai festival – the world’s largest animal sacrifice – claims thousands of victims. Buffalo, sheep, goats, and birds are brutally slaughtered and decapitated. In 2014, Animal Equality’s investigative team captured images of the massacre using drones and hidden cameras and broadcast these images around the world. 

After extensive discussions with Animal Equality India, the Indian Government decided to ban the transport of animals into Nepal during the Gadhimai festival. This decision was vital in reducing the number of animals sacrificed by about 70% in November 2014.

In 2019, the event was repeated and our investigators were present to document the violence and abandonment of animals left to suffer a slow and excruciating death.

In collaboration with the Red Cross, Animal Equality India’s team organised an alternative way to worship the festival, encouraging people to donate their blood to pay homage to the festival and help save human lives, instead of sacrificing animals. Thanks to this initiative, killings were reduced by nearly 80%.

13. Wild Tuna Slaughter

In 2012, Animal Equality Italy carried out an undercover investigation of the slaughter of thousands of tuna off the coast of Sardinia. The investigation showed shocking images of the brutal killing of bluefin tuna that takes place every year in the Mediterranean Sea.

After being captured, the tuna are gathered in a so-called ‘death chamber’ until, once they have been herded together, the slaughter begins. This is done by violently harpooning the tuna onto fishing boats, where they die in agony from suffocation or blood loss.

14. Intensive Duck Farming

Animal Equality decided to investigate some of Germany’s largest duck meat producers, starting in 2014. Thanks to our first shocking investigation conducted within numerous intensive duck farms, Animal Equality was able to shut down these cruel companies for several months.

In May 2017, our investigative team went to one of the largest duck farms in Germany for the second time and our footage revealed that the ducks, who are semi-aquatic animals, were denied access to water and so couldn’t carry out natural behaviours like swimming and bathing.

15. Documenting Rabbit Farms and Slaughterhouses

From 2012 to 2014, Animal Equality investigated 70 rabbit farms and four rabbit slaughterhouses in Spain, producing a substantial body of evidence on the abuses and cruelty that these animals suffer within the meat industry. 

As a result, Animal Equality took legal action against the facilities to demand that these abuses stop.

In 2015 and 2018, our team of investigators worked to collect footage inside Italian rabbit farms and slaughterhouses and we shared the suffering we found with the world.

These are just some of our investigations from the last 15 years which have made an impact on the lives of millions of animals. Only through investigative work can we continue to bring to light what the animal agriculture industry tries desperately to hide from the public. We will always be a voice for animals.

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