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Helen Flanagan swapped Corrie for Covent Garden cobbles as she became Miss Santa in the latest campaign against animal cruelty.

The former Coronation Street star and I'm a Celebrity contestant wore a costume without the traditional white trim to promote the anti-fur message to shoppers in London. 

She teamed up with animal campaign group PETA, holding up a sign which read "Keep it fur-free under the Xmas tree".

Flanagan, who was the highest ranking British star in FHM's sexiest women poll this year, is encouraging people to avoid presents which involve animal cruelty as she dressed in a red dress, white stockings and red platform stilettos in the freezing cold. 

She said: "Fur is cruel and gruesome, and it belongs squarely in Christmas' past.

"With all the wonderful stylish, fur-free designs available today, it's never been easier to celebrate with Christmas gifts that are as kind as they are chic."

PETA says coats, collars and cuffs made from fur involved "immense animal suffering" and claims that some animals are skinned while still alive.

It points out many designers - including Calvin Klein, Stella McCartney, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Vivienne Westwood - now shun fur from their fashion ranges. 


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The Mentalist star Owain Yeoman (above) and singer Leona Lewis are showing bunnies some love this International Rabbit Day (yes there really is such a thing). They are supporting Humane Society International's Be Cruelty-Free campaign to put an end to animal testing for cosmetics around the world.

The stars feature in exclusive photos in which they can be seen cuddling up to rabbits, one of the most commonly used animals in cosmetics testing. 

Unlike in Europe, Israel and India where cosmetics animal testing is banned, elsewhere around the world there is no such legal ban preventing companies from testing cosmetic products or ingredients on animals. But HSI's Be Cruelty-Free campaign aims to see an end to the practice.

Yeoman said: "It's the saddest thing to know that rabbits can't cry, which is one of the reasons these gentle creatures are used in painful eye tests for cosmetics. When I think of their unnecessary suffering I could certainly shed a tear, so I'm backing the Be Cruelty-Free campaign to see an end to animal testing in North America and globally. Show the bunnies some love and let's end cosmetics cruelty."

Lewis said: "Ending animal testing for cosmetics is close to my heart, and so is my bunny Melrose. Melrose is so gentle and loving with such an amazing personality all her own, it breaks my heart to know that there are thousands of rabbits, just as special, suffering a terrible fate to test cosmetics."

Around the world, rabbits are used in painful eye and skin irritation tests for consumer products. Rabbits, guinea pigs, rats and mice all endure untold suffering for the beauty industry. Developed in the 1940s, skin and eye irritation tests involve holding rabbits in full body restraints so that chemicals can be dripped in their eye or spread on their shaved skin. These tests are notoriously unreliable as well as extremely cruel, causing eye reddening, swelling, ulceration, even blindness, or skin cracking and bleeding. Unlike humans, rabbits have no tear ducts so they can't cry out the harmful substances.

Be Cruelty-Free is the largest campaign in the world to end cosmetics animal testing. Globally, Humane Society International and its Be Cruelty-Free partners are leading the charge to end cosmetics cruelty in Australia, Brazil, China, Korea, New Zealand, Russia and beyond. Be Cruelty-Free USA is spearheaded by The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund.


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Spice girl Melanie C shows her compassion for animals in a new Be Cruelty-Free video calling for a global end to animal testing for cosmetics. Although testing cosmetics on rabbits, mice and other animals is banned across the European Union and Israel, it is still permitted in most other countries and even mandatory in some places such as China.

Many thousands of animals still have chemicals dripped in their eyes or force fed to them in massive doses, sometimes until they die. Humane Society International's Be Cruelty-Free campaign is working to change that, with consumer and political lobbying campaigns in Brazil, the United States, South Korea, Russia and beyond.

Says Melanie: "I fully support Humane Society International's Be Cruelty-Free campaign. We have had success - Europe has gone cruelty-free - but this is a worldwide issue. I'm sure that, like me, you agree it is completely unnecessary for animals to go through pain and suffering just to produce new cosmetics. Please join me and support us by signing the Be Cruelty-Free pledge. Let's take the cruelty out of beauty."


This is not the first time that Melanie has helped HSI (Humane Society International) campaign to end the suffering of cosmetics animal testing. In 2011, together with Ricky Gervais, Melanie took part in our eye-catching photo shoot with world class photographer Ray Burmiston, sporting temporary tattoos with an "End Animal Testing" message.

They also  to see the EU sales ban on newly animal-tested cosmetics come into force, which finally achieved victory in March this year.

Sign the Be Cruelty-Free pledge

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Top Shop Keep Wildlife out of Wardrobe.jpgPETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and fashion retailer Topshop have teamed up to draw attention to the treatment of exotic animals killed for their skins. The high street store has created a display at its flagship Oxford Street store in London.

The display, which can be seen in the shop's main window today until Monday, 18 March, features a wardrobe with exotic animals spilling out and the caption "Keep Wildlife Out of Your Wardrobe". It goes on to urge shoppers to visit PETA UK's website to sign a pledge never to wear exotic skins.

"Topshop knows that the only place for exotic skins is on their original owners", says PETA Senior Programme Manager Yvonne Taylor. "Through the years, Topshop has set the industry standard for promoting animal welfare, and its latest high-profile display at the heart of London's busiest shopping street will help save many snakes, alligators and other animal victims of the fashion industry from an excruciatingly painful death."

As shown in PETA US' exposé of the exotic-skins trade - narrated by acclaimed actor Joaquin Phoenix - snakes, alligators and other exotic animals who are killed for their skins are commonly nailed to trees, bludgeoned with hammers and skinned alive. It often takes hours for the animals to die, usually from shock or dehydration. Nice.

PETA and Topshop have joined forces on several previous occasions to make it clear that they oppose the cruel fur and exotic-skins trades. Topshop was recently presented with a PETA-Approved Vegan Fashion Award in the category of Most Stylish Women's Knitwear for the company's trendy cream-and-lime jumper.

For more information visit PETA.org.uk.

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Leonalewis.jpg Anti-vivisection group BUAV is celebrating victory after years of campaigning against animal testing as the EU finally banned the use of animals for testing cosmetic products yesterday.

The ban applies to all new cosmetics and their ingredients sold in the EU, regardless of where in the world testing on animals was carried out. The 27 EU countries have had a ban on such tests in place since 2009. But the EU Commission is now asking the EU's trading partners to do the same.

The anti-vivisection group BUAV and the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE) said they had spent more than 20 years campaigning on the issue, enlisting celebrities including Sir Paul McCartney, Morrissey and Ricky Gervais.

While congratulating the EU Commission for putting the ban into effect BUAV says over 80% of the world continues to allow animal tests for cosmetics which is why is why it has founded Cruelty Free International to campaign for a global ban.

Adds the BUAV: "It's time for the world to end animal testing for cosmetics forever, and we are delighted that The Body Shop and their brand activist Leona Lewis are supporting our campaign."

Watch Leona's new video below:






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Gary Lineker.jpgIn a post that appeared on Facebook over the weekend, but which now seems to have disappeared, Walkers crisps confirmed they can no longer guarantee ANY of their crisps will be suitable for vegetarians.

At the end of last month they confirmed they were adding real meat to their crisps, including Smoky Bacon and Chicken, prompting a massive backlash among the UK's 3 million Vegetarian and Vegans, as well as religious groups, via social media.

Walkers said that the decision was taken to give the crisps a more 'authentic' flavour and to source meat from local farms. It decided to promote the change in direction in a new advertising campaign entitled 'A Great Taste of Home', featuring Gary Lineker on a tractor (see image on right). From now on, around 0.12% of a bag of smoky bacon will contain pork.

Writing on Walkers' Facebook wall Clive Nicholson said: "You started your massive ad campaign to inform the general public that you are adding dead animal to your products, the day after a report was published that linked the consumption of processed meat products with premature death. I would like to wish you the very best of luck at this years bad timing awards."

Added Laura Robinson: "Walkers, there is nothing exciting about contributing to the misery and slaughter of animals, the alienation of any of your customers who don't eat meat and the CONTAMINATION of your ENTIRE RANGE due to cross-contamination (something you continue to refuse to guarantee against). This is quite possibly the biggest PR DISASTER of a lifetime."

So far Walkers has refused to to rule out the possibility that their other flavoured crisps may be cross contaminated with meat as they use the same barrels to add the flavour to all the crisps. In 2007 Mars was forced to do a U Turn over the use of animal extracts in its Mars and Snickers bars following a backlash from Vegetarians. It remains to be seen whether Walkers will follow suit.

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We'd really like to end the week with some more cheerful news, but it would be wrong not to mention this. According to new research, more than 11,000 elephants have been killed by ivory poachers in Gabon since 2004 and campaigners are saying the situation is 'out of control' and if not changed soon the 'future of the elephant in Africa is doomed'.

The African country is home to over half of the continent's forest elephants (recently featured on BBC excellent 'Africa'). These magnificent creatures have excellent quality tusks which sadly makes them prime targets for poachers hoping to get rich on ivory trade.

Since 2004 between 44-77% of the elephants have been killed as demand for jewellery and other ivory in Asia remains high.

Despite efforts by the government, they are failing to monitor the vast area of Minkeve where the elephants live. It is believed that 50 to 100 elephants were being killed every day in the park in 2011.

You can help by signing WWF's petition to remove loopholes that allow ivory trade to continue.

"Every day in the savannas and forests of Africa, elephants are being gunned down for their ivory tusks. Across the continent, tens of thousands of these majestic animals are being slaughtered each year. In many places the species has already been poached to extinction. If we don't act now there may be no wild elephants left.

Elephant poaching is being driven by demand for ivory carvings and trinkets in Asia where many consumers think "elephant teeth" simply fall out and re-grow without hurting the animal. The truth is that ivory comes from dead elephants."

The new research has been carried out by the Gabonese national parks agency (ANPN) alongside WWF and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

Image via WWF

Consumers are becoming more aware and concerned about the origins of the products in their wardrobe, and fake fur, cruelty-free fabrics and pleather are fast becoming the go-to materials for those wanting to enjoy the latest fashion with a clean conscience. And everyone from high-street retailers such as Topshop and French Connection to high end designers like Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney are meeting consumer demand for animal-free fashion.

Animal welfare organisation PETA is recognising the best cruelty-free contributions to the fashion world with a new awards - the first ever PETA-approved Vegan Fashion Awards.

The awards mark the launch of PETA's new logo, which designers and retailers can use to identify vegan clothes and accessories that they sell online or in stores.

Check out the 2013 winners below - more information can be found here.

What great news to take with us into the weekend. From 11 March all sales of cosmetics that have been tested on animals will be banned in the European Union.

This means that anyone who wants to sell cosmetics - from high-end designer make-up to own brand toothpaste - will have to ensure that none of the ingredients have been tested on animals.

What a great victory for animals and those who have fought for them, such as Cruelty Free International and the Body Shop.

Let's all jump for joy like this sheep!

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Today sees the launch of the first mobile network that also helps with conservation, WWF Wildlife Mobile.

The new mobile network will enable people in the UK with a passion for the environment and wildlife to generate funds for conservation projects every time they use their mobile phone - and it won't cost them a penny extra to do so!

The service, in partnership with operator Digital Spring Mobile and Vodafone UK, works on a SIM-only, with cheaper standard Pay As You Go rates than any other major networks and a range of competitive bundles of calls, texts and data. This certainly gives another meaning when talking about 'calls for conservation'.

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How does it work?

Rates are highly competitive; Pay As You Go rates start from 5p minute and customers get double call credit every time they top up. WF Wildlife Mobile also offers great value bundles - Penguin, Aardvark, Hippo or Rhino - giving hundreds of calls and texts and large data allowances starting at just £9.50 per month.

How much will be donated?

Wildlife Mobile will give 10% of the net call revenues for conservation and is open to anyone who has an interest in or a concern for the environment and wants to help. In other words, you don't have to be a WWF member to join the new network and help safeguard the natural world.

How will my calls help with WWF conservation projects?

The hope is that through tapping into something people do every day millions of pounds will be raised for conservation by simply talking to each other. The target is to reach 2 million minutes of call by the end of 2013, all which could make a tangible difference to wildlife:

- A 10 minute call on WWF Wildlife Mobile could pay for six tree seedlings to help restore critical areas of Tiger habitat.

- Just two weeks of regular usage on WWF Wildlife Mobile could cover the costs of a three-person community based anti-poaching patrol in the field for one day, protecting Tigers and Rhinos in Nepal.

WWF's Communications and Fundraising Director, Tobin Aldrich said: "Most people use a mobile phone, so this is an innovative and easy way for people to do their bit for conservation. If you're passionate about the environment and wildlife, it won't cost you anything, to raise vital funds for WWF whilst you use your phone."

To sign up to the new SIM only WWF Wildlife Mobile visit www.wildlifemobile.co.uk.

This photo of a terrified little monkey has been doing the rounds on Twitter and the web since it was first broadcasted on Iran's Press TV yesterday.

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It shows a poor little monkey all buckled up, his head restrained in a small block by Iranian scientists, on his way to meet his doom: a one-way ticket to space. Iranian Government officials have confirmed this was done to check that if they one day manage to get a manned flight up into space, all would be ok.

If there is anything that will make our hearts ache and eyes water up it's photos of suffering animals.

Hey Iran, if you want to get in on the space programs, be real men and send people into space!

[via Buzzfeed]

Why we should stop eating meat on Mondays

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Many meat eaters will tell you that they could never give up meat, not even for a day, not even for the animals that are treated horribly in order to end up on a plate near you and me. But vegetarianism, though a big part of it is, is not all about being kind to animals. It is also about choosing a more sustainable future and potentially improving your health in the process.

A 2006 report found that the livestock industry was responsible for more harmful gases than the transport industry. So it goes without saying that consuming meat in the quantities we do is not sustainable in the long run. Adopting a different attitude towards diets and health, educating people about the fact that we don't need 'meat and two veg' every single day in order to survive is crucial for a better and brighter future.

One small, yet effective, way of doing this is to stop eating meat on Mondays. Luckily, as it is becoming less 'alternative' to be meat free, people are ncreasingly changing their habits - even the meat eaters.

One of the biggest campaigners behind the Meat Free Mondays movement is Sir Paul McCartney - he started the campaign together with his late wife Linda in 2009 and she went on to create a vegetarian food company - who has spoken out numerous times about the importance of eating less meat.

Speaking to The Huffington Post, McCartney said: ""It's becoming more and more clear that one of the most effective things any individual can do to help the environment is to eat less meat."

The ex-Beatle continued: "I've been a vegetarian for a long time now and over the years I've seen how the attitudes have changed around the world, so I'm not surprised when I see new research that shows more and more people are increasingly adopting 'meat free eating'. It's great to see more and more choice with some brilliant creative dishes in restaurants, cafés and supermarkets. There is definitely now an overall greater acceptance of being vegetarian."

But even though we now know more about the benefits of a less meat heavy diet, it is good with a reminder once in a while. And don't you worry; this is exactly what McCartney has in mind. In a new ad, an animation, Linda can be seen surrounded by quirky animal personas and her family as Elvis Costello reminds us all of the values and ethos of Linda McCartney.

Check it out here:

born-free-bloody-ivory-george-logan-2.jpgThe Born Free Foundation, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, has today taken a new stand against the crimes against elephants and is revealing the shocking truth behind the illegal ivory trade.

Through www.bloodyivory.org the organisation hopes to expose the challenges facing elephants throughout their natural range and the depth of the ongoing crisis. Recently, news out of Kenya reported that an insidious criminal cartel had wiped out an entire family of 12 elephants for their ivory in the worst single incident of its kind in the country.

Moreover, on 5 January Hong Kong's customs seized 779 ivory tusks weighing more than a thousand kilos and valued at more than £900,000.

Will Travers OBE, the charity's Chief Executive Officer, acknowledged: "The ivory trade is a brutal business, devastating entire elephant families, causing massive suffering to individuals - and now severely impacting populations in all four regions of Africa. This is putting some of these most vulnerable populations at risk of extinction. Bloodyivory.org shows the world what is really happening to elephants and encourages all compassionate people and 'Elefriends' everywhere to lend their voices to the chorus declaring: NO MORE IVORY TRADE."

The new site includes a petition which calls on the CITES Parties (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora) to reject any future proposals for trade in ivory and to support improved protection for elephants. They are meeting in Bangkok this March and elephant ivory trade will be high on the agenda.

Image copyright George Logan / via Born Free Foundation

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My oh my hasn't Coca-Cola been busy... Perhaps it has looked closely at the witch hunt of tax dodging global corporations such as Starbucks and Amazon, and figured they needed to up their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity?

The soft drinks giant has partnered with environmental charity WWF for a pan-European 'Arctic Home' scheme to invest in Arctic conversation projects and raise awareness of the plight of polar bears, an animal which has appeared in the brand's ads for almost a century.

Coca Cola can2.jpgThe scheme will see Coca-Cola donate £3 million each year to help protect the polar bear population and support WWF's lobbying of international governments.

Whichever reason, it is good news that investment is being made to put a spotlight on the challenges that are facing the white kings of the north, which are facing extinction if the polar ice continues to melt. The funding will be spent on researching polar bear numbers, helping local communities to live harmoniously with the animals and encourage governments to do something.

Polar bear conservation - coming to a coke can near you!

[via Marketing Magazine]

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We've been following the developments of the killer whales stuck in the Hudson Bay ice closely, hoping that the story would end happily rather than with over dozen dead animals.

And it did! No thanks to humans mind - though the poor orcas did get a lot of support on Twitter #SaveQuebecWhales and elsewhere online.

After they'd been discovered trapped under a huge stretch of ice near a remote fishing village, news broke that icebreakers were needed urgently in order to get them to safety.

With only a small hole in the ice to breathe through, the authorities said they'd be sending a team to "evaluate the situation", hesitating to act decisively and help the beautiful animals before it was too late.

A spokeswoman for Fisheries and Oceans Canada told the CBC that icebreaker ships were "really busy with the ice conditions that we have in other regions of our country" and that three commercial ships had become stuck in the ice in the area.

Really busy?! Well we're sure that the people aboard the ships would have been perfectly fine if they had to wait a bit longer to get broken free. It's not like they were scrambling in a tiny hole to get air in order to survive.

As luck would have it, the killer whales appear to have escaped the ice and certain death, as the ice shifted when winds changed course overnight. Hurrah!

Photo: AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Marina Lacasse

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