Born Free spearheads efforts to implement ban of advertising animal exploitation abroad

Charity calls on UK government to act without delay.

Three people riding an elephant.

In September 2023, Born Free welcomed the passing into law of the Animals (Low Welfare Activities Abroad) Act. The Act, which was introduced to parliament as a Private Members Bill by Guildford MP Angela Richardson, paves the way for Ministers to prohibit the sale and advertising in England and Northern Ireland of cruel and abusive activities overseas, such as elephant riding and dolphin shows, that would be illegal in the UK. 

However, in order to give effect to the Act, the Secretary of State must develop so-called ‘activity regulations’, specifying the kinds of activities which will be proscribed. To date, in spite of the efforts of Born Free and its many like-minded partners, no further progress has been made. 

Born Free’s Head of Policy Dr Mark Jones said: “This Act gives our government the opportunity to call out the cruel and abusive exploitation of so many animals for the entertainment of tourists when they travel overseas, reflecting the views of the overwhelming majority of the British public. However, until the Secretary of State develops and enacts the regulations that will identify the banned activities, the Act is toothless. Thus far, despite our collective efforts, there has been no sign of action from government.” 

Working alongside more than 30 organisations in the UK and overseas, and many individual experts, Born Free has developed a comprehensive list of activities for the government to consider, alongside detailed evidence confirming that the activities meet the necessary criteria specified in the Act. This has been sent to the Secretary of State at DEFRA, his Minister for Animal Welfare, and key government officials. 

Dr Jones continued: “In the face of inaction from government, we have presented the Secretary of State with the activities that should be proscribed on a plate. There can be no excuses for further delays. If our government wants to claim any credibility for its animal welfare agenda, it must pass the regulations that will bring this important Act into force.” 

You can find the detailed list of activities the NGOs have recommended should be proscribed under the Act in the evidence report below. 

Read the full report