19th December 2022

2022 has seen many challenges, with the cost of living crisis and political upheavals affecting the country dramatically. With this in mind, the team at FFA would like to say a huge thank you to our supporters, for continuing to support our work in the fight for animal freedom. Without you, none of the achievements we have seen over the years would be possible. 

Here are our highlights of 2022!


This year we are celebrating our 65th year in fighting for the freedom of animals! Since Irene Heaton founded the Captive Animals Protection Society (CAPS) in 1957, there have been many incredible achievements for animals, including the use of wild animals being banned from circuses. There is, of course, so much more work to be done in the fight for animal freedom, and we will not rest until ALL animals are free from exploitation. Some of our supporters will have been with us since the early days, some more recently. But whenever you joined us, you have made incredible changes for animals.

After our successes in 2021’s festive campaign - which saw Jack’s stores cancel all 12 of their planned live animal events! - in February we launched a campaign against a live owl display regularly held at Tynemouth Market in the North East. A beautiful barn owl called Willow, and an eagle owl called Mr Wilson were being regularly exploited by a trader at the market. In exchange for money, the birds were forced to endure being handled for public photographs, and spent the day tied down by their leg (tethered) in a busy environment. But, thanks to your action throughout the campaign, the owners of the market decided to no longer allow such cruel displays to take place on their property! The team at FFA would like to say a huge thank you to all who took part in such an important action.


Zoo Awareness Weekend took place over Easter, which saw many of our supporters and grassroots activists take to the streets to hold protests and information stalls across the UK. As zoos usually see a flurry of visitors during the Easter period, it is the perfect time to highlight how much suffering truly happens behind their caged doors, and for FFA supporters to get out there and spread the word, whilst showcasing how many animal-friendly alternatives there are available! Activists from Belfast, Merseyside, Brighton, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and the North East all held impactful demonstrations to educate the public on the truth behind the zoo conservation lie. These actions could only be possible thanks to your generous donations and support, as they enable FFA to continue to provide free campaign materials, organise protests and carry out vital online promotion for events.

Our campaign to end mobile zoos also saw the introduction of the ‘Report a Mobile Zoo’ tool on our website. This will make it easier than ever for our supporters to reach out with any concerning events or businesses they come across, that use animals for profit in human entertainment. The data we collect from these companies helps us to investigate their harmful practices, and will aid our overall campaign to free animals from all mobile zoos.

Also thanks to our supporters, we have been able to carry out two investigations this year - one at Sea Life Brighton and one at a wetland centre in the Midlands. This has helped FFA gather further evidence as part of our vital ongoing work within both the aquarium campaign, and our campaign to end the cruel pinioning of birds.


A recent report highlighted the government’s possible intention of reforming parts of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, which would prohibit zoos from keeping elephants in captivity due to wider animal welfare concerns regarding the species. With this in mind, FFA launched the Freedom for Elephants campaign in August, which saw over one thousand of you email DEFRA to voice your concerns, and help shine a light on the continued suffering elephants are being forced to endure in zoos. 

DEFRA will now consider evidence from elephant welfare experts and recommendations made in the 2011 Elephant Welfare Group report, which was finally completed in 2021. FFA will not stop fighting for their freedom, and with your continued support we hope to be able to see the day these magnificent individuals are transferred to conservation sites in the wild, or to suitable sanctuaries where they can live out their days in peace and away from human scrutiny. Let’s hope that this is the start of the end of elephants being kept in zoos! This would be a magnificent step towards the banning of all species in zoos, and help create a major shift in attitude towards these cruel establishments.

In August we published an action against Wowcher, to highlight the utterly disgraceful after-hours events they are advertising on their selling platforms; such as firework displays and concerts at Yorkshire Wildlife Park. It is unacceptable that animals are being forced to endure such loud and stressful events when they are already subjected to so much human interaction throughout the day, and also unacceptable that companies such as Wowcher should profiteer from them. If you haven’t taken part yet you can do so here: https://www.freedomforanimals.org.uk/wowcher-stop-ywp/  

In our summer edition of Release, we reported that the UK’s largest reptile market was struggling to find a venue after Doncaster Racecourse ended its association with the market. We have subsequently discovered that since they pulled out, another venue - Bowler’s Exhibition Centre in Manchester - has subsequently hosted this event.

FFA is continuing to work with our friends at the Animal Protection Agency and World Animal Protection to investigate allegations of the illegal behaviour taking place at these events, and have reported our concerns to the relevant authorities. We hope that Bowler’s Exhibition Centre will see sense and cancel any future events where reptiles such as snakes and lizards are openly ‘sold’ in small plastic containers, and subjected to stressful transportation and handling procedures.

In better news, another planned reptile market, this time in Guildford, Surrey, was cancelled by the venue managers after pressure from FFA, APA and WAP. Although The Surrey Reptile and Amphibian Society advertised the event as a ‘hobbyist breeders meeting’, an investigation by APA showed that the illegal trading of live animals had taken place at previous events. FFA do not believe animals such as frogs, lizards and snakes should be kept or sold as “pets”, and are calling for an end to the exotic “pet” trade.

Sea Life Brighton has seen a flurry of demos in 2022, held by grassroots activists as part of the ‘CLOSE SEALIFE’ group. Their aim is to highlight the suffering aquarium's cause, and also shine a light on Lulu, a green sea turtle who has been held captive at the centre for over 80 years. Their commitment to the cause is commendable, and FFA appreciate their passion wholeheartedly. We wanted to show our support by sharing a petition they created this year, calling for Lulu and her partner Gulliver’s freedom. You can sign and share the petition here: https://www.freedomforanimals.org.uk/take-action-to-help-lulu 

If you live nearby and want to help on one of their protests get in touch and we can help you to link up with Close Sealife. Contact [email protected]


At the beginning of October we launched our Festive Events Campaign, which aims to stop live animals being used as props at events across the country, such as parades and Christmas light switch-ons. Reindeer are the most commonly exploited animals at these events, but we also see donkeys, sheep, birds of prey, camels and even guinea pigs exploited for human entertainment. Annually, we track hundreds of events using our live events map, to expose where these cruel events - shown in “red” - are taking place, and the contact details to voice your disapproval. This year, we included “green” events that have done the right thing and chosen to go animal-free, so that you can make a conscious decision and know you’re supporting an event free from animal suffering. With your help we can continue to turn the red events green, and stop the suffering!

We also re-launched our ‘Report a Festive Event’ tool for 2022, making it easy for you to contact us with any local events you spot that are using animals. Without you, we would miss a number of events as many are only advertised or displayed locally to avoid public scrutiny. So to all who have utilised it so far, thank you for reaching out and exposing these shocking displays of cruelty.

Many events such as Bristol Christmas Market, Bamburgh Castle, Webbs Garden Centre (across four locations) and Thames Christmas Lights Switch-On decide to go animal free thanks to increased campaign pressure! 2022 also brought the news that the Truro Christmas Event is Cornwall has done the right thing and committed to going animal-free moving forward! This was a long running campaign, which included working with councillors to try and end their use of animals as props each year, so it’s a great victory for animals!

We have made great strides in the 2022 campaign so far, with many live animal events cancelling including Bootle’s Shopping Centre in Liverpool, The Fig in Malvern and The Great North Museum’s ‘Great North Winterland’ event! Thanks to our incredible supporters and grassroots activists for working with us in the fight for animal freedom. None of this would not be possible without your continued support and action!

If you haven’t had a chance to take action yet you can do so on our website here: https://www.freedomforanimals.org.uk/Pages/Category/take-action 

FFA also teamed up with our friends at OneKind, Animal Aid and Born Free to write to 63 events asking them to go reindeer-free; offering a great opportunity to join together in the hopes of reaching that shared goal faster! Also, this year, we have identified 125 animal-free festive events taking place that previously used live animals as props or attractions at various points since 2019. This is a huge achievement and shows the progress being made. Thank you to all the organisers who are taking such compassionate steps in the right direction! And to all our supporters for your continued help in this important campaign.

Thank you so much for everything you've done to make these important victories happen! Here's to 2023, and continuing the fight for animal freedom together!

If you want to help bring about more huge change to the lives of animals currently suffering in captivity in the new year, join our committed group of Freedom Champions! Our Champions help enormously in making a real difference to animals' lives in the future.


- 19th December 2022