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Five ways every Australian can help end animal cruelty

In Australia, animal cruelty and animals’ lack of protection is gaining attention across different avenues including food production, entertainment, tourism and fashion. As a global organisation, FOUR PAWS encourages change and is actively working to end the suffering of animals all over the world.


“FOUR PAWS has over 30 years’ experience protecting animals. From dogs to orangutans to lions, we have successfully rescued and rehabilitated countless animals from abuse and cruelty,” said Jeroen van Kernebeek, Country Director of FOUR PAWS in Australia. 

Over the past 12 months alone, FOUR PAWS has rescued bears from the bile trade in Vietnam, saved lions from an abandoned war-torn Aleppo zoo in Syria, cautioned Australians about the welfare dangers of buying an animal online, and represented animals suffering for the fashion industry, just to name a few.

“Across our many projects to help animals globally, we have found that the most powerful tool for change is people. We each have the ability to significantly improve animals’ lives, simply by being mindful of the impact our everyday actions can have on them,” said Van Kernebeek.

FOUR PAWS believes that every animal should be free from suffering and cruelty. Every Australian can help make this a reality, by extending kindness to the animals they encounter in their own lives. Jeroen has shared the top five tips on how Australians can help stop animal cruelty.

  1. Report it – Animal cruelty can occur any number of ways, from direct violence deliberately inflicted upon an animal, to neglect or an animal being left to suffer without veterinary care. It can also include psychological abuse where an animal suffers from fear or torment. If you think you see an animal in distress or suffering, report it immediately by contacting your local RSPCA or police station.”

  2. Consider animals in your decision-making – One of the most effective ways to prevent animal cruelty is to consider the impact of your purchasing decisions on animals. For example, if you are considering a new furry companion, adopt from a rescue shelter rather than buy a puppy who may have come from a puppy farm. Also, be mindful of animals who are used in textiles and the fashion industry, and support fashion brands who don’t use animal fur by checking out the Fur Free Retailer list on the FOUR PAWS Australia website.  

    Another way to have a positive impact on animal protection in Australia is to think about the animals who most of us never see, those animals used for food production. Encouragingly, in 2018 Australia is one of the leading nations to embrace veganism. Euromonitor International found that Australia was the third fastest growing vegan market in the world after the United Arab Emirates and China.”

  3. Be informed when travelling – Animals should be a key consideration when planning a holiday. Many animals are abused for the tourism industry, for bear ‘selfies’, in ‘tiger temples’ or for lion cub attractions. To ensure that you are not accidentally supporting cruelty while travelling, do your research before visiting any animal attractions, both in Australia and overseas.

    If you do want to see wildlife, visit animal sanctuaries who focus on rescue and rehabilitation, so your tourist dollars go towards supporting animal protection. For example, FOUR PAWS’ LIONSROCK big cat sanctuary in South Africa is home to more than 90 big cats rescued from zoos, circuses and the entertainment industry all over the world. This sanctuary is a unique combination of animal welfare and tourism as it also provides an eco-lodge, so visitors can appreciate big cats while supporting their ongoing care.”

  4. Share what you know with friends and family – Sadly, negligence can often be the cause of cruelty. People may not understand that what they are doing is causing suffering to an animal, such as leaving a dog in a car on a hot day. Awareness is key to combat neglect, which is why FOUR PAWS encourages people to speak up for animals and share their knowledge about responsible care of animals.”

  5. Support animal charities – There are many wonderful animal protection charities in Australia which people can donate to, volunteer with or share the work of through social media to help spread awareness about animal protection. You can also talk to your Member of Parliament about animal welfare in your area, to help bring attention to the need for better protection for animals.”

FOUR PAWS case studies – Stories of rescued animals who suffered as a result of tourism and entertainment.

Jeta – the ‘selfie’ bear

Jeta, a female bear around 15 years old, spent years being led by her owner in the stifling summer heat in Albania. She was led all over Albania’s beaches, towns and tourist spots, for people to take selfies with her for a small payment.

Jeta had a ring pierced through her nose, which was connected to a chain that her owner used to drag her along.

Every tug of the chain threaded through her sensitive nose caused her great pain. Whenever she wasn’t ‘working’ and during the winter months, Jeta lived a miserable life in a bare concrete room, chained to the floor in a dark shed outside her owner’s house in Korca.

FOUR PAWS was working with the Albanian government to free bears in these conditions, so in November 2016, FOUR PAWS was able to cut the chain that tethered Jeta to the concrete floor of her cage.

For her rescue, the Albanian authorities helped the FOUR PAWS veterinary team. The team tranquillised Jeta, fitted her with a microchip, removed her nose ring, and examined her. They found that the almost-toothless bear has several raw and bleeding holes in her nose, was undernourished, and suffering from a disease of the eyes.

After some time for rehabilitation at Tirana zoo, in August 2017 FOUR PAWS was able to transfer Jeta to its DANCING BEARS PARK Belitsa in Bulgaria.

Since her arrival at Belitsa, Jeta has adapted to her new life. She enjoys exploring, so her caretakers hide treats in the branches around her enclosure. Grapes seems to be her favourite fruit, and she often keeps herself busy playing with branches, and other types of enrichment offered to her. Jeta is also enjoys naps during the day, and is often found sleeping peacefully on her back throughout the day. 

On 14 January 2018, Jeta went into hibernation for first time in her life.


There are around 40 to 50 bears suffering in appalling conditions in Albania alone.  

© FOUR PAWS | Hazir Reka

Laziz – the tiger rescued from abandoned Gaza zoo

Known as the “Last Tiger of Gaza”, Laziz spent nine long years in a small cage at a zoo in Khan Younis, a town in war-torn Gaza. This zoo was dubbed the "worst zoo in the world" by the media after animals were found to be living among other mummified animals, who had died during the conflict in Palestine.

In April 2015, FOUR PAWS was the first welfare organisation officially allowed to enter Gaza to check on the remaining 16 animals trapped in the zoo, and begin planning their rescue.

FOUR PAWS rescued the severely emaciated Bengal Tiger after negotiations with the zoo's owner to close the zoo permanently, and transport Laziz and the other remaining animals to FOUR PAWS sanctuaries. Laziz was transported to our LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa, where he now confidently roams across his new home, a large 3 acre enclosure.

Bakari – the leopard cub bred for photos

In 2010, Bakari was born in a German zoo. Taken from his mother as a newborn, Bakari was used as a photo prop for tourists during the busy Christmas period.

Once the festive season was over, however, Bakari was no longer required. At only 2.5 months old, Bakari was transferred to a big cat centre in The Netherlands, known as Pantera, where his care was limited due to funding issues.

FOUR PAWS took over this centre in 2013, and with it Bakari’s care. We renamed the centre to FELIDA Big Cat Centre and started building bigger enclosures with greater enrichment. Bakari responded positively, showing development of his natural instincts.

When FOUR PAWS took over Pantera, 26 big cats were living there which was far too many for the area 1 hectare of size. So FOUR PAWS began the process of transferring healthy big cats to our species-appropriate Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK in South Africa. Then in 2016, it was Bakari’s turn.

Bakari made the trip safely and was successfully released into his new surroundings in South Africa. Bakari is very energetic, he loves to move around, shred cardboard boxes and enjoys being splashed with water on hot days.