Just days after US music artist Cher criticized a state-run elephant orphanage, Sri Lanka’s cabinet has enacted a long-awaited animal care measure.
Sri Lanka’s agricultural minister submitted the proposal to the cabinet on January 10. Its goal is to protect animals from suffering and abuse.
The Animal Welfare Bill
The Animal Welfare Bill was created 15 years ago to replace a century-old legislation, but it was put on hold due to a variety of factors.
The legal definition of “animal” is one of the most important aspects of the law. An animal was classified as a domestic or caught animal under the previous legislation.
However, the latest draft has broadened the definition to include any living creature other than humans. If the measure passes, the punishment for cruelty will be changed as well.
A fine of not less than Rs 100 ($0.5) or a prison term of not more than three months is the current punishment. The new rule imposes penalties of up to Rs 150,000 ($740) as well as harsher prison sentences.
Abandonment of animals, purposeful restriction of food and water, and castration or sterilization not performed by a veterinary surgeon are among the proposed new charges.
Cher Criticizes Elephant Orphanage
Animal abuse is a frequent topic of discussion in Sri Lanka. A video of two newborn elephants in a river at the Pinnawala elephant orphanage went viral a week before the bill was enacted.
After Cher remarked on the young elephant’s treatment, the video posted on Twitter by Rally for Animal Rights & Environment (RARE) gained thousands of views.
“Does this look right, humane to anyone? These babies look terrified, they want their mother,” said Cher.
Cher also tweeted against the condition of elephants at a Thai sanctuary on the same day.
A Long Road Ahead
PETA Asia applauded the bill’s approval. Jason Baker, the company’s senior vice president for Asia, says it’s a step forward for the country’s animal rights movement.
Baker went on to say that there is still work to be done. “The bill does little to protect typically farmed animals, such as chickens, who are perhaps the most abused animals on the planet,” he stated.
Before it can be enacted, the law must go through many phases.
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