Activists Use Social Distancing to Draw Attention to Animal Confinement

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Many people are struggling with the isolation and confinement required of them to help slow the spread of COVID-19. At times, social distancing can be boring, lonely, depressing, and can make us feel restless and cooped up, but at least we can look forward to the day when it ends and we’re able to return to some semblance of normal life.

Some animal protection activists are using this opportunity to speak up about the many animals who live their entire lives in confinement. They are asking those who are struggling with elements of social distancing to imagine being one of the animals who are force to live in a small space with few opportunities to express their natural behaviors and little or no time outside or spent with others of their species. Perhaps experiencing the stress of these restrictions oneself might bring on some increased empathy for animals for whom there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

California-based organization Last Chance for Animals released the following short video to highlight this connection, focusing on animals in captivity in a wide range of settings such as zoos, laboratories, and circuses.

Los Angeles Animal Save has tasked activists with something they can still accomplish from home: the “Coronavirus Confinement Challenge.”

Since Animal Save’s slaughterhouse vigils have been canceled for the time being, people are instead simulating the confinement animals are forced to withstand in our food system and sharing about it online. Participants jam themselves into tight spaces such as bathtubs or boxes in order to experience a piece of what intensively farmed animals experience.

Bestselling author Jane Velez-Mitchell took the challenge in the space under her coffee table in order to approximate the gestation crates that sows are housed in. “Even if we’re isolated in our homes we can show the world the obscene confinement that animals raised for food are kept in,” she said in her video, seen below. 

“Right now people are feeling isolated and stressed under lockdown in their own homes, which is a normal and natural reaction to confinement,” said L.A. Animal Save founder Amy Jean Davis. “This experience should help people who still eat animals understand that while for us it’s temporary, for pigs, chickens, cows, and other animals exploited for food, extreme confinement in crates, cages, and pens is their entire life.”

More examples of the challenge can be found on Facebook and Instagram, and under the hashtag #CoronavirusConfinementChallenge.


Featured image: rows of sows in gestation crates in a factory farm in Spain. Image credit Jo-Anne McArthur / Animal Equality.

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Dylan has been with Animal People since 2015, starting out as Archivist and Photo Editor and becoming Editor in 2018. Dylan has been joyously aware of the multispecies nature of the world around him since childhood, and today considers this attention towards nonhuman others to be an integral component of his intellectual, political, and emotional life. His work with Animal People brings his commitment to toppling human exceptionalism together with a passion for writing and activism. Click to see author's profile.

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