Conflicting Developments in Animal Well-Being in Israel

Israel is becoming a kind of land of contradiction with respect to animal rights issues. At a time when the Israeli parliament is discussing a proposed ban on fur, scientists in a prestigious university of the country have developed a new ‘naked’ breed of chicken for slaughter, stepping out of the way of nature and humane consideration.

Earlier this month, the news of Israel’s proposed ban on fur sale at large in the country cheered animal rights advocates across the globe. A landmark step in the direction of preventing animal farming – raising animals to be killed for fur – this proposed legislation is the first country-wide measure to discourage the fur industry from carrying on its cruel practice of killing a range of animals for their skins. The proposed legislation has also proven that the country runs a true democracy since a recent survey found that about 80 percent of Israeli population supports a nationwide ban on fur sales.

To dampen the enthusiasm of this advance in animal rights law, Israeli scientists announced their confidence in breeding the new kind of featherless chicken for the food industry. The scientists at the Hebrew University in Israel have created this breed to save the costs and time spent in removing feathers from the common chicken breeds raised for the food industry. This biological product of the Israeli scientists’ research is causing concern among animal rights advocates since the absence of natural feathers is likely to affect the chicken from the natural protection offered by that soft cover. Interestingly, the Israeli scientists call their creation an outcome of pure “natural selection” instead of genetic manipulation. Do humans regulate natural selection in labs? No surprise that this new victim of science was called a product of “sick science” by an animal rights advocate.

Then again some good news came from Israel’s Kfar Kedem, or Village of Yore, where a theme park has been created to serve as sanctuary for the village’s donkeys. The park is meant to give visitors a unique experience of Judean life as it was in Galilee 2,000 years ago. A short trip on a donkey while using wireless internet and then stopping to cook traditional food and milk a goat etc – all these will give a unique, environment-friendly experience of past life when animals for the most part were companions and fellow-workers. The visitors would of course pay to get this unique experience and the donkeys at the park will benefit from the revenue as will other animals, getting food and care.