Humane Society International (HSI) has produced an animated short film entitled Save Ralph (Ralph being the name of a rabbit in the film) as part of a campaign lobbying for a ban on testing cosmetics on animals globally and in Cambodia.

In its press release on April 7, HSI said testing cosmetics on animals was banned in 40 countries, but remained legal in most of the world, including Cambodia.

Cambodian officials said while the practice has not been explicitly outlawed, there are no such testing facilities in the country.

According to HSI, the practice has recently been on the increase in some parts of the world and it was subjecting thousands of animals to needless suffering and death.

HSI president Jeffrey Flocken said Save Ralph was intended as a wake-up call to remind people that animals were still suffering for cosmetics and that it is now time for the world to come together and ban this method.

“Today we have an abundance of reliable, animal-free approaches for product safety assurance, so there’s no excuse for making animals like Ralph suffer in order to test cosmetics or their ingredients,” Flocken said.

“HSI’s Save Ralph campaign tackles the disturbing issue of animal testing in an original and unexpected way by using the story of one rabbit to shine a light on the plight of countless rabbits and other animals suffering in laboratories around the world,” said the press release.

Aduane Joseph Alcantara, HSI’s ASEAN campaign manager, said there was growing demand in Cambodia for cruelty-free products and huge public support for change.

Basing his assertions on polling data, Alcantara said 80 per cent of Cambodians support a ban on animal testing for cosmetics and that there was a similar level of support across the region for an ASEAN-level ban.

Alcantara said the polling results showed ASEAN public opinion was overwhelmingly on the side of a ban and it had encouraged his organisation to lobby Cambodia and the whole ASEAN region to make “the necessary move forward to a cruelty-free cosmetics future”.

“It is a reminder for lawmakers that we need robust animal testing bans in place because no animal should suffer and die in the name of beauty,” he said.

Troy Seidle, HSI’s vice-president for research and toxicology, said the campaign focused on 16 priority countries including Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, and 10 Southeast Asian nations including Cambodia.

Tan Phannara, head of the General Directorate of Animal Health and Production, said there are no cases in Cambodia in which rabbits or any other animals have been used for cosmetics testing.

He suggested that HSI provide any information they have about such testing if it is taking place, such as the companies involved or the location of their laboratories.

Phannara said officials at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries who dealt with animal health and welfare would welcome cooperation with HSI to address issues related to such treatment of animals.

“I don’t think there are any cases like this in Cambodia. But if HSI finds any cases, then I suggest that they let me know and we will assign specialists to investigate,” he said.