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Just recently New Zealand passed legislation that makes animal testing and other sorts of animal cruelty illegal. For decades people on both sides have fought for and against animal testing, debating whether or not animals should serve as test subjects for products that would otherwise need to be tested on humans. Known as the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill, New Zealand has officially made animal testing punishable by up to five years in prison or a $500k fine.

The Humane Society estimates 115 million animals are used for research and testing each year. In many of these tests the animals undergo severe stress, pain, and even death; it’s a practice that has little regulation, so the exact numbers of tested animals remains somewhat a mystery, as do the procedures used.

The Humane Society estimates 115 million animals are used for research and testing each year.

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The bill comes with 61 rules and policies split into two sections, and outlines all the ways animals will be protected from abuse and cruelty. It also establishes when surgical procedures can be used, as well as specific areas for hunting and the proper treatment of wild animals.

The bill clearly states the punishment for those who break the rules, and the prison sentence and hefty fine make it clear they mean business.

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The bill breaks down animal cruelty into two categories, willful and reckless. Willful intent can bring an offender up to five years in prison or $100k in fines for an individual, $500k for a group. Reckless crimes get a slightly less severe punishment of as many as three years in prison or a $75k fine for individuals, $350k for a group.

Numerous studies have proven that animals feel a range of emotions including joy and excitement or fear and distress depending on the situation. And they obviously feel pain as they are poked, sliced, and injected.

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While advocates for cruelty-free testing have long made their voice heard, this action by New Zealand represents one of the most sweeping changes in support for their cause, and it serves as a great example for the rest of the world.

More info: zaoorganic | wikimedia | nzavs.org.nz