By Zoe Starbuck
As pay day approaches, you may be umming and erring about whether you need that new pair of shoes, or those treats in your online food shop, but what if you knew that by giving in to temptation you could actually be saving an animal being held in captivity and exploited for entertainment?
A Salford animal charity is trying out a new and easy way for members of the community to donate and support their work – and all it involves is shopping online.
Captive Animals' Protection Society (CAPS) is teaming up with EasyFundraising to further their commitment to end the exploitation of animals in the entertainment industry – a battle they have been fighting since 1957.
Focussing on circuses, TV and film, zoos, aquariums and the exotic pet trade the charity raise money to undertake investigations to expose cruel and unsatisfactory conditions that many animals are forced to live in.
Fundraising director Nicola O’Brien told MM: “Every zoo we visit we unearth something that is concerning for the animals – be it unsuitable enclosures, stressed or ill animals and poor education information regarding their conservation status.
“At Chester Zoo last year we found one particular individual, a two-toed sloth – a naturally nocturnal species famous for their lack of activity and extremely slow gait – moving constantly and quickly along ropes suspended above visitors’ heads in a loud and brightly-lit room, with nowhere to hide from the loud noises and bright lights.
“Wildlife conservationists viewed our footage and stated it would have a long-term effect on the welfare of the animal – he was highly stressed, and they were surprised he had even survived in this environment.
“Subsequently the zoo stated they would improve the enclosure by providing shelter for the sloth to retire away from the public.”
To fund such effective and successful investigations, which cost anything from £1,000-£10,000, the charity relies solely on donations from supporters.
In order to do so CAPS has registered with EasyFundraising, a free service that helps small charities with their missions.
The online site houses 2,700 retailers and people who wish to support the charity can do so simply by doing their usual shopping online but through the fundraising website.
Then a small percentage of what they spend will be turned into a donation.
The site has helped CAPS and many other small organisations, raising more than £9million for causes throughout the UK.
Nicola said: “EasyFundraising has really helped us with our fundraising mission. Supporters can donate just by shopping online and the additional funds will help us provide more support and will really make a difference to the day-to-day work of our charity.”
CAPS hope to use the money raised to buy new undercover camera equipment which is vital to capture footage while on an investigation.
Head of Marketing for EasyFundraising Caroline Adams said: “We are so glad to have been able to help CAPS, and we’d like to thank everyone who took the time to donate through our site for this cause.
“Local charities are extremely important in the community, and without funding, it would be difficult for all this important work to be carried out.”
As well as carrying out undercover investigations to expose animal cruelty, CAPS educates people on animal issues, teaching compassion and respect, and is always working on their core campaign to ban exploitative animal practices.
Nicola said: “Right now we are in peak circus season so we are busy researching the movements of those which use animals and organising local awareness campaigns in the towns that they visit to encourage people not to attend.”
The charity’s other main action this year has been at SEA LIFE and its many centres around the world.
CAPS organised a six month enquiry where they visited all the centres across the UK and Ireland to investigate the practices taking place.
Nicola said: “We wanted to look at how the other animals were doing in aquariums, so sharks, smaller fish, rays, turtles etc.
“We unearthed very troubling practices, mortality rates of animals, welfare issues and poor or incorrect educational messaging from staff.
“What we didn't expect to find was a cetacean issue ourselves as we discovered SEA LIFE own an aquarium in Shanghai where they force three beluga whales to perform shows every day, so we are fighting for their release as soon as possible.”
The charity’s work is never-ending with any kind donations they receive going straight back into their many investigations, helping to document what is happening to animals and speaking out on their behalf.
For more information on the charity, visit the Captive Animals' Protective Society’s website or visit EasyFundraising to get shopping and do your bit to save exploited animals.