Behind the magnificent natural beauty of Croatia lies the remnants of the brutal Balkan War. It was in the early 1990s that this war led to the segmentation of Yugoslavia and Croatia obtained independence.
More than 20 years later, Croatia has become a popular holiday destination.
It was through my communication with a Croatian anti-fur activist that I became aware of the strong animal rights movement in Croatia. Animal Friends Croatia is a nonprofit organisation, which aims to “promote animal rights, animal protection and veganism as an ethical, ecologically acceptable and healthy lifestyle”.
However, it was the Bear Sanctuary at Kuterevo that called me to Croatia. (Photo of Kuterevo bear in article by Libby Brooks – The Guardian)
Sanctuaries for other animals evoke ambivalent emotions in me. Although these bears have now found security they are a reminder of the ugly side of humanity!
This particular sanctuary was set up over a decade ago for bear cubs who had been orphaned by hunters or exploited for entertainment. Read more on the blog @ https://wordpress.com/read/blog/id/27867134/.
As R & R is about a total break, I reconsidered this choice. Also June/July is peak holiday season in Croatia and reasonable accommodation is hard to find.
Given the floods that hit Croatia in May 2014 I am relieved that we did not visit Croatia in June. While there was some loss of human life, the loss of nonhuman animal life was huge. This could have been worse if not for the Croatian animal protection organisations uniting in solidarity.
In a combined effort they rescued many who could not flee and were abandoned in houses, in barns and so on. Donations enabled their rescue operation. Well done to these organisations who have been relentless in their fight for animal rights.
An independent public opinion poll (2006) conducted by communication group Zagreb found that 73.7% of Croatian citizens believed that fur farming should be banned. The Environmental Protection Department (March 2006) issued the following statement:
“We think that due to global disapproval of breeding animals for fur, irrelevancy of fur industry for Croatian economy, local public support to ban of fur-bearing animals breeding, and Croatian political reputation in European Union and world, it is necessary to include regulation about ban of breeding animals for fur production into the Draft Proposal of Animal Protection Act, and thus to give Government and parliament mandatories opportunity to express their opinion.”
On January 1, 2007, the new Animal Protection Act, which bans fur farming (Article 4, Item 2, Sub item 23), came into force. Unfortunately there is a 10-year phase-out period rendering this ban effective only on January 1, 2017.
In reaction to this, Animal Friends launched a national campaign called “For Croatia Without Fur”, which aims to end the use of fur in the fashion industry. This campaign is promoted with the “Beautiful Without Fur” billboards displayed in public places. Animal Friends stresses that breeding animals for fur production is considered “unacceptable in a civilised world”. It further claims that “Croatian citizens consider the fur industry a disgrace for Croatia”.
It would be naive to think these fur farmers will stop, as they can easily move to neighboring countries and set up farms there. So it remains important to educate that in the 21st century people do not need to rely on the skins or fur of other animals to keep warm.
Also to Croatia‘s credit, it became the 28th member state on July 1, 2013 of the European Union. It therefore has to uphold the regulations stipulated by the EU, such as not selling any seal products in the member states.