London university bans live animal displays
Shayna Weisz and fellow students at Middlesex University have won a hard-fought campaign to have live animal displays banned on their campus.
This inspirational story shows what hard work and a belief in being kind can achieve. I am thrilled for Shayna to tell the story in her own words below.
Our victory by Shayna Weisz
I am thrilled with this news.
It’s taken such a lot of hard work over the past year. They really didn’t make it easy for us – I joined Middlesex University in North London last year, and as soon as I heard about their upcoming Christmas market featuring live reindeer, I started off writing politely to the event organisers about my concerns and encouraging others to do the same. They simply dismissed us, so I decided to organise a peaceful but powerful protest where myself and others stood with signs and handing out leaflets surrounding the reindeers’ pen at the event, where the poor animals stood with no stimulation for 8 hours straight, surrounded by the noise and the crowd. We also noticed that they were transported to and from our campus in the back of a van.
Most people attending the event easily saw the validity in what we were doing as soon as we explained it, and agreed with our stance – including teachers and professors who stopped by and praised us for what we were doing. This was very encouraging, so following that we started a university-wide petition – although there were so many rules in place for how and when and where we were allowed to collect signatures, that it took a full 6 months to gather the required amount for it to pass.
We were informed that it was the biggest petition ever run at the university, and that the motion now had to go to a referendum. So we had to campaign again, but finally, with 60% of the students voting in favour of our motion, it passed just last Friday – specifically calling for a ban on all live animal use as entertainment on campus. For the first time in 12 years there were no reindeer at their annual Christmas market and this will also eliminate the future use of owls who are usually chained to little stands on World Book Day and caged exotic reptiles on Easter.
For more information about the suffering of reindeer at festive events, you could check out Animal Aid’s recent campaign where they’ve done a while undercover exposé of the industry, and have lots of facts about the detrimental effects on the animals’ health and wellbeing.
I’m over the moon that all this hard work has paid off and that my University won’t be having live animal events anymore, but I really think it’s also important to get the word out there about this important step they’ve taken, in the hope that other institutions will be inspired to do the right thing and follow suit.