Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Attenborough-backed ‘The Lion’s Share’ initiative criticised by animal campaigners.

Posted: 4 July 2018

United Nations conservation fund supports use of wild animals in advertising.

Animal Defenders International (ADI) is urging the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), FINCH and Mars to reconsider their well-meaning but ill-conceived ‘The Lion’s Share’ fund, which ADI fears will lead to a rise in the use, and suffering, of wild animals in advertising, hindering conservation efforts.

Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International, said: “The Lion’s Share is an honourable cause but is fundamentally flawed. Encouraging the use of wild animals in advertising will harm those used and efforts to protect their kind in the wild.”

“ADI urges the UNDP, FINCH and Mars to do the right thing, and use the fund to help wild animals in their natural environments and those supplied as advertising campaign props by urging companies not to use them.”

Recently launched in Cannes, the initiative – championed by Special Ambassador David Attenborough – encourages advertisers to contribute 0.5% of their advertising spend when using animals in their promotional campaigns to “support animals and their habitats around the world”.

Using animals in advertising however can harm efforts to protect their counterparts in the wild. Research shows that presenting wild animals as objects of fun, and within a human environment, can negatively distort people’s perception of their conservation status, undermining efforts to protect them.

Worryingly, founder of FINCH Rob Galluzzo has stated that “Nine out of the 10 most popular animals we see in commercials are actually endangered or threatened” highlighting the risks these species face by their use in advertising. If this is not tackled, ADI warns, it could negatively impact wild populations of at-risk species.

The organisation is calling on the UNDP, FINCH and Mars to turn the initiative on its head, seeking commitments from advertisers who pledge NOT to use animals, doubling the positive impact the fund will have.

Animals used in advertising are deprived of all the normal, social and mental stimulation that they would enjoy in the wild. They live in barren environments, where they remain until wanted. During training their compliance is ensured through physical violence, threats and withdrawal of food, water or affection.

With extensive expertise studying the use of animals in the entertainment industry, ADI has shown that the real training, including discipline or abuse of captive animals used for entertainment, tends to occur off set and away from public view. This makes it almost impossible for advertisers to ensure that a performing animal has not suffered during a lifetime of training.

With The Lion’s Share encouraging companies to use animals to help threatened species, this is likely to lead to an increase in the suffering of their captive counterparts. Founding member of the initiative Mars has already stated that “We’re not going to be limiting our number of animals; we’re actually going to be increasing.”

Provided with evidence of the inherent suffering and abuse, a growing number of advertisers have committed not to use wild animals in recent years; ADI is concerned that The Lion’s Share risks undoing such commitments, putting animals back in harm’s way.

Media Contacts:

US: Lesley McCave, ADI Communications Director | (323) 935-2234 or (323) 804-9920 (after hours) |

UK: Devon Prosser, Press Officer | 020 7630 3344 or 07785 552548 |

© Animal Defenders International 2019