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Campaign "An Animal Is Not a Thing"

"Zwierze nie jest rzecza" ("An animal is not a thing")


Research laboratories, stockbreeding farms, slaughter-houses, hunting grounds, circuses and zoological gardens are all places which, in our culture, we have determined as appropriate for animals.

The cruelty, ruthlessness and the large-scale character of these activities are the major reasons from which the protection of "our smaller brothers" became one of our basic tasks carried out since the beginning of Klub Gaja. We started from preparing an exhibition on the place of animals in our culture. The exhibition which has been shown since 1989, is accompanied by the motto "Why?"

Zwierzę nie jest rzecząWe started our campaign "The Circus is Funny, but not for Animals" in 1991. Due to the activities of this campaign, in 1995 Bielsko-Biala became the first town in Poland and in Central and Eastern Europe in which circuses featuring the taming of wild animals are forbidden.

In our circus campaign the target is to introduce a ban on taming of wild animals for entertainment.

Also in 1991, Klub Gaja participated in a dramatic and spectacular obstruction of a bullfighting show at the Silesian Stadium. After this action any further bullfighting shows were cancelled, and so far, nobody in Poland has organised similar shows.

In 1994, we began making preparations for the publication of "The Anthology of Animal Rights". This was to be the first book in Poland presenting the history and philosophy of the movement, describing specific methods of taking unfair advantage of animals and the possibilities and consequences of social activities. The book was published in 1995.
On the 24th of October 1995 Klub Gaja started the national Polish campaign "An Animal is Not a Thing".

On this day the largest action for the recognition of and protection of animal rights that has ever been organised in our country took place.

In several dozen towns (about 50) there were informative campaigns, which focused on the need to pass a new bill "On the Protection of Animals" as soon as possible. People could sign the letter to the Chairman of the Polish Parliament concerning the issues. In this campaign we obtained a petition of 600,000 signatures, the second largest petition in Polish history.

Within this campaign and at the suggestion of Klub Gaja, the first coalition for the rights of animals was created in Poland. Work relating to the changing of this bill including, for example, raising awareness of issues relating to animal rights through the Klub Gaja "An Animal is Not a Thing" Exhibition, led to a new law relating to Animal Rights to come into force on the 24th of October 1997.

The force-feeding of ducks and geese is now banned in Poland. This lobby was one of the strongest in blocking the law on animal rights from coming into force.
Since January 1999, we have been conducting a new chapter of the national campaign "An Animal is Not a Thing" in co-operation with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).

We are conducting action on the transport of live animals for meat, mainly the transport of horses. We want to protect many thousands of animals from suffering during transport through the ban on the transport of live horses  for meat.

The problem is the export of live horses for meat, mostly to Italy, but also to France. Every year, from our country, we export about 100,000 horses.
Let us cite the excerpts of NIK (Main Control Chamber) from May 1998 confirming the cruelty of the practice:

"After the check it was settled that, in every fourth of the checked units no proper sanitary conditions were guaranteed. In 95% of transports the load capacity was exceeded. Proper transport conditions to avoid the risk of traumas and wounds were not guaranteed by 40% of the companies. Holes in the floors, metal edges, leaking roofs. In some of the vehicles the animals could have fallen out during the transport."

In Poland, horses have special status, they are special animals. In our history, horses were part of many important events such as battles and national ceremonies. There is no tradition of eating horses in Poland.

Horses are bred mostly in the eastern, agricultural regions of Poland where people are poor. In Poland in 1999  there were 36 companies which exported live horses.

We export live horses to Italy and France where they are slaughtered.

The Polish law is good at European level. The problem is that, in the most part, this law is not well respected by those who have to implement it.

Long term aims of the campaign:
That the place of  horse in Poland returns to the positive one traditional in Polish culture through changes in the Polish law, education and public opinion. That Poland will not export live horses for meat.

Short term aims:
To find materials and documents, which present the problems in Poland relating to the export of live horses for meat. This information will then be incorporated into our materials.
To inform public opinion about this problem through our actions, meetings, literature and co-operation with the media.
To build a network of organisations, experts, horse clubs and especially people who care about horses and to use this network to help the campaign.
To obtain 500,000 signatures to the petition to stop the transport of live horses exported from Poland for meat.
To support and promote people and institutions who buy horses from the meat trade in order to save them.

Klub Gaja Report – I -VI 2008
Project "We Help the Animals"
Klub Gaja organizes many campaigns and programs to protect animal rights and to respect  animal wellbeing. 
In 2008 all operations of Klub Gaja in the area of protection of animal rights, were carried out as a part of "We Help the Animals-environmental education project", which is partially financed by the European Union funds under the Temporary Resources PL2005/017-488.01.01.01, the Regional Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management in Katowice, Eurogroup for Animals and private resources.
So far we accomplished the following:
We published the following materials:
- educational exhibition "We Help  the Animals"- 4 posters, edition of 4500 pieces - 18000 pieces
- brochure "We Help the Animals" - printed 4500 pieces
- poster - May 22nd - the Animal Rights Day - edition of 4500 pieces
- educational film "We Help the Animals" - 4500 pieces
These materials were sent to 4000 schools and educational centers.
Within the framework of the project we plan to publish 4500 pieces of the Report about "We Help the Animals", and send it to 4000 schools and educational centers.
School Lectures "We Help the Animals"
Until the end of June 2008 we gave 19 lectures/presentations under "We Help the Animals" project in the following cities: Kołobrzeg, Robuń, Łaziska Górne, Bielsko-Biała, Dobrodzień, Poznań, Dąbrowa Górnicza, Libiąż, Kościan, Wrocław, Warszawa, Lublin. In total, in 19 lectures/presentations, 504 students participated.
In September and October 2008 we are planning to organize 6 more lectures/presentations.
FAQ - guide "We Help the Animals"
In March 2008 we launched on our website a FAQ guide "We Help the Animals" - 25 the most frequently asked questions and answers about protection of animal rights.
For the whole duration of the project we were engaged in the civil counselling about  protection of animal rights. In total, from the beginning of the year until July we gave 120 counsels and responses to the interventions.
The conference promoting the project.
In March 2008, Klub Gaja, with cooperation from the Regional Environmental Education Center at the county council in Limanowa, organized the conference for teachers during which we introduced the program of active environmental education within the framework of "We Help the Animals" project.
At the conference the following issues were presented:
- Jacek Bożek - president of Klub Gaja introduced the general outline of the project;
- Paweł Grzybowski - environmental education officer of Klub Gaja presented "Potential for educational materials and information about civil counselling in "We Help the Animals" project.
- Jagna Kudla - veterinarian and specialist therapist in behaviour of cats and dogs presented "Why is it worth it to respect animals?"
- Jarosław Kasprzyk - environmental education officer of Klub Gaja presented "The Forms of Education in Practice".
Educational and artistic workshops of "We Help the Animals" project.
Klub Gaja organized 2 educational and artistic workshops for students of the Middle School No.3 and the Karol Wojtyła Integration Groups in Mysłowice. The team of 19 pupils worked to organize the happening, which was presented at the Animal Rights Day in Silesian Library in Katowice.
On May 20th 2008 Klub Gaja organized the Animal Rights Day in Silesian Library in Katowice.
The celebration of the Animal Rights Day began with the press conference with the following participants:
Iwona Kuklik from the Marine Station of the University of Gdańsk in Hel,
Jacek Bożek - president of Klub Gaja, Magdalena Sadek and Basia Milewska both 3rd grade students from the Middle School No. 3 in Mysłowice.
The press conference was followed by the happening "The Animal is Not a Thing" - organized by Klub Gaja and the students of the Middle School No. 3 in Mysłowice.
Meanwhile, in front of the Silesian Library artist Waldemar Rudyk, with other students, created wolf sculptures.
Later that day, the educational exhibition "We Help the Animals" and photographic exhibition "Do not be afraid of a Wolf..." by artist Artur Tabor, were opened in the main hall of the Silesian Library.
Klub Gaja awarded The Co-feeling Awards 2008 for the exceptional involvment and interest in the protection of animal rights in the following categories: education, media and business.The ceremony took place in the auditorium Parnassos of the Silesian Library.
The laureates included:
- Ewa Podolska - Radio TOK FM - for her series of talks about animals and for animals;
- Joanna Podgórska - Weekly "Polityka" - for the compassion and sensitivity in describing the animals in contemporary world;
- Primary School in Skulsk - for the activities involving protection of amphibians;
- Group of Schools no.2 in Czeladź -for raising awareness about protection of animal rights;
- Tomasz Pietrzykowski - for a book "Dispute Over Animal Rights";
- the Marine Station of the Oceanographic Institute of the University of Gdańsk in Hel - for protection of biodiversity of the Baltic Sea;
- TNT Express Worldwide Poland sp.z o.o - for collecting 49 tons of recycled paper in our action "Collect and recycle waste paper - save the horses".
After awards ceremony, there was a time for our interesting discussion panel "An Animal, A Person and Globalization" and participants included:
Katarzyna Bielas z OTOZ Animals,
Ewa Siedlecka – Wyborcza Newspaper (Gazeta Wyborcza),
dr hab Piotr Skubała – Ecology Department of the Silesian  University (Katedra Ekologii Uniwersytetu Śląskiego)
prof. dr hab. Marek Houszka – Environmental Studies University in Wrocław (Uniwersytet Przyrodniczy we Wrocławiu),
Daniel Wierzbinka – Regional Council Veterinarian (Powiatowy Lekarz Weterynarii),  Iwona Kuklik from the Marine Station of the University of Gdańsk in Hel,
dr Tomasz Pietrzykowski – author of "Dispute over Animal Rights".
Panel coordinator - Jacek Bożek, Klub Gaja.
The opening of our movie "We Help the Animals" concluded the day in the auditorium Parnassos of the Silesian Library.
In the Animal Rights Day the attendance rose to 93 participants. The interviews were given to the following media representatives: Daily Newspaper "Dziennik Zachodni", Polish Radio Katowice, Radio TOK FM, Satelite TV Telpol, Silesia RV, Daily Newspaper "Gazeta Wyborcza", Radio dla Ciebie, and Polish Public Radio Channel 1.
Participation in the project "We Help the Animals-environmental education project", on the registration forms confirmed 218 schools.
In total, the program included 20515 participants.
193 schools organized the Animal Rights Day.
185 schools organized clasess developing wild animals topic.
188 schools organized lessons about farm animals.
172 schools organized lessons about pet animals.
176 schools organized lessons about animal rights and animal welfare.
In those schools the Animal Rights Day brought representatives from following bodies: local councils, regional departments of the Ministry of Protection of the Environment, Polish Forestry, Polish Hunting Club, Zoo, animal training schools, regional non-governmental organizations, Environmental Education Centers, National Health and Safety Organization (SANEPID), Waste Managament and Recycle Companies, Animal Shelters, student governments, as well as Veterinarians, University administratives and faculty and parents.

"Adopt the River-our Rivers flow into the Balitc Sea" project

is focused on the importance of fish industry, especially concerning cod and salmon in the Baltic Sea.

Within the framework "Adopt the River-our Rivers flow into the Baltic Sea" project, we organized 6 lectures in Bełchatów, Racibórz, Wilkowice, Robuń and Wrocław.
We prepared educational materials and books. Also, we gave number of radio and TV interviews and we put ads in the newspapers and on the Internet.
One of our promotional activities included the preparation of the happening called "The Story of a Golden Fish", about the protection of  biodiversity of the Baltic Sea, well balanced fish industry and protection of cod and salmon. The happening took place in those cities and on the following dates:
  1. Warszawa, 8 June 2008 - 129 email invitations sent on 5 June 2008. Furthermore, 51 invitations sent via fax. Friendly reminder sent to 129 addresses again on 6 June 2008. The happening was covered by the following media representatives: Radio TOK FM, Polish Radio IAR (Radio News Agency), TVP Warsaw, Radio ESKA, and Radio Niepokalanów. Radio TOK FM run the story a day before on Saturday, 7 June 2008.
  2. Katowice, 10 June 2008 - 58 email invitations sent on 6 June 2008. Furthermore, 18 invitations sent via fax. Friendly reminder sent to 58 addresses again on 9 June 2008. The happening was covered by the following media representatives: Radio Katowice, Radio EM, Antyradio, Daily Newspaper "Gazeta Wyborcza", AF Edytor, Radio ESKA, Forum Agency, TV Katowice, Radio CCM, TV Silesia, TVP 3, Express, Radio TOK FM.
  3. Hel, 1 July 2008 - 11 email invitations sent on 27 June 2008. Friendly reminder sent to 11 addresses again on 9 June 2008. The happening took place in the main promenade near the Hel Town Hall .
  4. Gdynia, 2 July 2008 - 11 email invitations sent on 27 June 2008. Friendly reminder sent to 11 addresses again on 29 June 2008. The happening took place at the Kościuszko Square. It was covered by a journalist from Radio Gdańsk.
  5. Hel, 4 July 2008, Klub Gaja organized additional performance of "The Story of a Golden Fish" on the grounds of Marine Station of the Oceanographic Institute of the University of Gdańsk. It was covered by the journalists from the Internet News Portal - Wirtualna Polska. The story was published under the portal's project called "Poland is cool" ("Polska jest fajna").
  6. Kolobrzeg, 12 July 2008 - 13 email invitations sent on 8 July 2008. 108 addresses were included in the email sent again on 10 July 2008. The happening took place near the  lighthouse. Press releases included: 11 July, in Gazeta Kołobrzeska and Daily City („Dziennik Miasto”), 11-13 July in Gazeta Kołobrzeg. The happening was covered by Miasto – Gazeta Kołobrzeg, Gazeta Koszalin, Gazeta Kołobrzeg, Radio Koszalin.


Project Cross-border cooperation of animal welfare NGOs in Visegrad

  • coordination of the project
  • Meeting of Visegrad partners, Wilkowice, Poland, January 2008. The aim of the meeting was to update on work carried out so far and plan the second part of the project including the press conferences.10 participants from the Visegrad groups. A press conference also took place, the following media were present: TV Bielsat, TVP Katowice, Radio Bielsko, Radio Katowice.
  • Preparing and publishing 24 page colour report “Searching for responsible retailers in Eastern Europe. The Visegrad's "Egg Survey" in 4 languages - Polish, Hungarian, Czech and Slovakian. An English version of the report is in electronic form on the groups’ websites.
  • Press conference Warsaw 17.04.2008. Media coverage: National media: Radio dla Ciebie, Radio Jozef, Samo zycie, Polskie Radio 1, Biokurier, Poradnik Domowy. Warsaw media: Radio TOK FM, Radio ESKA, Polskie Radio, Gazeta Wyborcza.

Help stop the Canadian seal cull
In 2003 Canada set a quota for the cull of a million seals over a period of three years. This year 320,000 seals are to be killed for their fur,  the biggest cull of wild mammals in the world.
The Canadian seal hunt has begun again this year. By the end of the season 320,000 seal pups are to be clubbed or shot to death, the largest hunt of marine mammals in the world.
The Canadian government claims that following independent investigations, the hunt is carried out humanely and is well monitored, however humane the clubbing to death of thousands of defenseless seal pups ever can be. Reports and videos of Animal Rights groups such as IFAW, monitoring the area daily, show otherwise.  This is some information about the seal hunt, based on IFAW 2005 report:
The seals are aged from 2 weeks to 3 months old, they are weaned and left on the ice by their mothers at this age, but they have no way to defend themselves or run away from the hunters which chase the terrified pups over the ice before killing them.
The aim is to kill as many seals in as short a time as possible, therefore many hunters do not use the blinking response test as they should to test if a seal has been killed.
As a result many seals are left to die a slow painful death, a large proportion may even be skinned alive. An independent inquiry in 2001 showed that this may be the case with as many as 40% of seals.
A sustainable industry?
The Canadian government claims that the seal population is very large and the quota set for the hunt is in accordance with the size of the population. A report in the respected journal Marine Mammal Science estimated that up to a half-million seals (twice the legal limit) may
have been killed in each of three recent years because many seals escape and die elsewhere, and are therefore not included in the government statistics.
Hunted for their fur
According to the Canadian government, the hunt is carried out for economic profit, however they do not admit that most of the profit is from the seal pelt- a luxury product with a large market in Europe. The remaining parts of the seal are often left on the ice. This means that a  million animals are killed over three years only for their fur! The question is: can we as human beings able to make moral choices allow such pointless cruelty to be carried out, in the name of profit?
Please, write to the Canadian Embassy and tell them you disagree with the seal hunt. Canada prides itself as a developed nation with high animal welfare and environmental protection standards, and the government does not want this opinion of Canada to change. Your letters will have an effect.
Below you will find email addresses and an example of a letter you could write:
I strongly disagree with the Canadian government’s decision to renew the culling of seals. I do not agree with the government’s arguments that the seal cull is necessary. Young seals are killed with clubs, pulled along the ice using hooks, and in many cases skinned alive. Killing is not painless, therefore it can never be humane.
I cannot accept that such cruelty is carried out for economic profit, therefore I protest against the seal cull.
Canada is considered a highly developed nation, yet it still kills animals in this barbaric fashion in order to sell their fur. This is yet another example of the unnecessary suffering we subject animals too.

  1. Vanessa WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ With three carp squirming in a plastic bag, Kazimierz Oleksy rushed home from a busy Warsaw market Thursday to put the fish in his bathtub and keep them fresh for a traditional Christmas Eve dinner. Like carp lovers elsewhere, Poles believe that the gray, fatty fish taste better if they're killed at the last minute before being fried, baked or boiled. But the custom is under attack this holiday season from animal-rights activists. The live fish often suffer during transport on ice and in plastic bags before reaching short-lived respite in buyers' bathtubs, said Jacek Bożek, head of the Polish animal rights group Klub Gaja. "An end must be put to this suffering as quickly as possible," he said. Bożek's group took its message to 33 Polish cities this season, stopping people on the streets and asking them to give the freshwater fish the gift of freedom for Christmas by buying them and putting them back into lakes. The campaign is having an effect, he said. While the most enthusiastic support comes from young people, all kinds of people have contacted the organization this year to confess that the slaughter somehow dampened their Christmas cheer. "People remember when they were young and the situation with live carp in the bathroom when daddy killed the carp, and they have decided: No more live carp in the house," he said. "They still eat fish, but they don't want to be part of the suffering." But interviews with shoppers at the Hala Mirowska market in downtown Warsaw suggested there's quite a battle ahead to stamp out a tradition that is as much a part of the holiday as Christmas trees and midnight Mass. Oleksy, 70, said he planned to kill his fish on Friday by knocking them out before slicing their heads off. "It's tough," he said after buying fish from vats filled with slimy carp struggling for oxygen. "But it's the tradition and there's no way around it." On Thursday, Poland's oldest animal rights group accused supermarkets and shops of violating animal protection laws in their handling of carp.   "Vast numbers of fish are kept together, which prevents them from moving and getting enough oxygen to breathe," the Polish Society for the Protection of Animals said in a statement. "Animals are not objects and people should treat them with respect." Bożek, whose group has 3,000 members across Poland, acknowledges that he's picked a hard battle. But he stresses that he's not asking Poles to give up the traditional fish dinner altogether. "This is my dream _ that in Polish shops there will be only dead carp, like any other fish," Bożek said. "Not live carp."                                    Vanessa Gera

Success and failure in animal welfare campaigning

It is exactly 20 years now since I founded Klub Gaja, a Polish independent organization dealing with animal rights and environmental protection. Back then I had no idea whether the so-called real socialism would ever collapse, allowing us citizens of Central and Eastern Europe a chance to live in free, democratic countries. What I wanted to do was to make a difference in the world and I was willing to put at risk all of my life as it was at that time, without knowing where that choice would take me. Looking back now, I can say I am one of those who have succeeded. I have built an important organization in my own country which also works successfully in the international arena. How was it possible? Did people and organizations within the former Soviet bloc share similar experience? At the end of the 1980's and in early '90's, many things seemed simpler than they really were. As citizens of these countries, our ideas of the free world were yet to be confronted with the economic transformations, unemployment, political ploys and clashes, as well as ruthless competition. We were very slow to realize that the revolution which brought us freedom was not completed yet but still going on, on the cultural, educational, world-view and even consumer-attitude levels. As it turned out, in our newly recovered space, a lot had yet to change and we had to face circumstances that were entirely new as we continued to work for the future. On the other hand, NGO's arising in the early nineties and their leaders did not yet know how to work professionally or what it takes. To say nothing about money, which was extremely hard to raise for independent activities e.g. in the animal welfare field.

So what is our situation at present?
It varies from country to country and even from region to region within a single country. It certainly has to do with the people's level of affluence, their knowledge and understanding of the issues in question, as well as favourable or hostile attitudes among local authorities and politicians of diverse persuasions. Leading an organization in Warsaw, Budapest or Prague is very different from leading one in Wilkowice, a small village in Southern Poland where Klub Gaja is seated.

Resources we have or have not access to are of tremendous importance. Thus, when it comes to the campaigners, the questions are: do they speak languages, do they know how to talk with the media, how to raise funds and how to work with other people? Do they have their own financial resorces to dispose or are they entirely dependent on project monies which have to be spent on particular programs? Last but not least, do they have enough knowledge to achieve it, to make positive changes where possible and to grow? It must be stated clearly that there is hardly an organization in Central and Eastern Europe that can afford one employee to solely deal with the media, another as a fundraiser, yet another as a campaign officer etc. Typically, everybody does everything, which entails some advantages but also numerous weaknesses. Research on the non-governmental suggests that many of the organizations are no longer making progress, and a great many have disappeared altogether as they failed to keep their employees or to act in professional ways. It is also significant that local and national governments do not understand animal protection issues.
They do not support non-governmental organisations or their campaigns. Very often we are left completely alone and can only count on ourselves. On the other hand, there are examples of very good joint actions, e.g. in the Visegrad countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia). The Klub Gaja led project „Cooperation of Animal Welfare NGOs in Visegrad” funded by the Visegrad Fund and implemented by NADACE ochranu zvirat in the Czech Republic, Sloboda Zvierat in Slovakia, and Fauna in Hungary, indicates the potential inherent in our organizations and communities. The cooperation was possible thanks to the support of Eurogroup for Animals as well as experts from older member states.  I am not saying that it was easy, but we have made a huge step forward. However, financial and content-related assistance is needed to support such activities.

To summarize, I believe a great deal of work has been done. We have built the essential bases for several significant organizations in Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia and the Baltic nations. However, due to sociopolitical circumstances, they often lack stability in financial, human-resource and strategic aspects, which may affect their future activities. One opportunity for us is to work together on the European level or among the Visegrad countries. To establish coalitions and to create partnership between strong Western organizations and ourselves. To enter a closer cooperation with environmental NGOs that count with a lot of resources, knowledge and public support.

Jacek Bożek


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