The Humane Society has a new spokesperson – actually, a spokes-bunny – in its campaign to ban cosmetic testing on animals and Taika Waititi is its voice. Waititi is one of a collection of Hollywood filmmakers and movie stars, including Ricky Gervais, Zac Efron, Olivia Munn, Pom Klementieff and Tricia Helfer, who have given their voices to the campaign.
The four-minute film, Save Ralph, was written and directed by Spencer Susser (Hesher, The Greatest Showman) and produced by Jeff Vespa (Voices of Parkland). It was produced by Arch Model, the London studio of famed puppet maker, Andy Gent.
Ralph is not angered by his “job”, in fact he is happy to have one, despite the horrific injuries he has received and, at least for the camera, he says that he is proud to follow in the footsteps of his parents and grandparents, who died “doing their job”. That’s the power of the film. And it’s mightily powerful.
The film is also being launched in English, Portuguese, Spanish, French and Vietnamese with Rodrigo Santoro, Denis Villeneuve, Rosario Dawson, H’Hen Nie and Diem My 9x voicing the characters in those languages, and Maggie Q providing a video message of support.
Animal testing for cosmetics products is banned in 40 countries but is still legal in most of the world. It is even making comeback in Europe, according to the Humane Society International.
Troy Seidle, Humane Society International vice-president for research and toxicology, stated, “Save Ralph is a wake-up call to European citizens and lawmakers who believe that animal testing for cosmetics is over in the EU. It’s not—it’s just been given a new name of ‘chemicals assessment’ but it’s the same old animal suffering. The decisions to perform new animal tests are coming not from companies – in fact some of the leading cosmetic and ingredient brands are furious and fighting these tests. The requirement is coming from the European Chemicals Agency which is using Europe’s chemicals law to circumvent the EU’s historic ban on animal testing for cosmetics. Regulators are demanding new chemical poisoning tests that consume the lives of thousands of animals apiece for cosmetic ingredients that have been used safely for years. Today we have an abundance of reliable, animal-free approaches for product safety assurance, so there’s no excuse for making animals like Ralph suffer in any type of test for cosmetic ingredients.”
Save Ralph director, Spencer Susser, added, “Animals in cosmetic testing labs don’t have a choice and it’s our responsibility to do something about it. When the opportunity came up to create a new campaign for Humane Society International, I felt that stop motion was the perfect way to deliver the message. When you see the horrifying reality of the way animals are treated, you can’t help but look away. What I was hoping to do with this film was create something that delivers a message without being too heavy handed. I hope that audiences fall in love with Ralph and want to fight for him and other animals like him, so we can ban animal testing once and for all.”
Puppet master and set designer, Andy Gent, explained, “I think the beauty of animation is that you can tell very complex stories and bring them to life in a non-threatening and educational way. In our miniature world of models and puppets using stop motion filmmaking, we hope to bring attention to this mission to stop animal testing for cosmetics. We’re all very passionate about what we do, and it’d be very nice to think that this project to Save Ralph will have a greater, wider effect.”
HSI has targeted sixteen priority countries for the campaign – Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, and 10 Southeast Asian nations. Partner organisations, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund, aim to influence legislation in the US. The organisation is concerned that even cruelty-free cosmetics are in jeopardy if chemical safety legislation continues to demand new animal tests for chemical ingredients used exclusively in cosmetics. It wants test bans in place and robustly defended to prevent this from happening. More than 2,000 “cruelty-free” beauty brands are available worldwide, including Lush, Garnier, Dove, Herbal Essences and H&M.
Ricky Gervais commented, “Animal testing just makes me angry. There’s no justification for dripping chemicals in rabbits’ eyes or force-feeding them to rats just to make lipsticks and shampoo. Science has evolved enough to give us non-animal solutions to end this terrible cruelty—it’s time for our humanity to catch up.”
The campaign background:
- The European Union banned all animal testing for cosmetics in 2013, yet today this celebrated precedent is being undermined by European Chemicals Agency demands that companies perform new animal tests on chemicals used exclusively in cosmetics.
- In some parts of the world, rabbits like Ralph are locked in neck restraints and have cosmetic products and ingredients dripped in their eye and on to the shaved skin on their back. Guinea pigs and mice have the chemicals spread on their shaved skin or on their ears. None of these animals are given pain relief, and all of them will be killed at the end.
- Cosmetic testing on animals is officially already banned in 40 countries. HSI and partners were instrumental in securing bans in India, Taiwan, New Zealand, South Korea, Guatemala, Australia and 10 states in Brazil. Such testing is also banned in Turkey, Israel, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and in the US states of California, Illinois, Nevada and Virginia. Five other US states – New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island, Hawaii and New York – are now considering similar bills to end animal testing of cosmetics, and a federal bill called the Humane Cosmetics Act is anticipated to be reintroduced in Congress this year.