Undercover Investigations: Changing Hearts and Minds
July 31, 2020
Since 2006, Animal Equality has investigated over 800 facilities—mostly industrial farms and slaughterhouses—in 13 countries. Our investigators risk everything to expose the truth about what’s going on behind closed doors, oftentimes going undercover and working at farms or slaughterhouses for weeks or even months. Investigative footage has helped us get justice for animals through legal action and criminal charges for abusers, helping enact new laws, and pushing for industry policy changes.
To the shock of the public however, most of what we document is 100 percent legal and standard practice in the meat, egg, fishing, and dairy industries. We believe that consumers have a right to know where their food comes from so that they can make more compassionate and informed buying decisions. That’s why we will stop at nothing to expose the truth.
Here are just a few of the investigations that have stood out to us over the years. To view a summary of them all, you can check out our investigations page.
WET MARKETS EXPOSED: HELL FOR ANIMALS AND A DANGER TO HUMANS – China, Vietnam, India
Our investigators visited live animal markets in China, Vietnam, and India and witnessed animals such as deer, raccoons, crocodiles, cats, and dogs living in cramped, filthy conditions, suffering from dehydration, starvation and disease. The animals were killed on the spot for customers who want fresh meat. These markets are not only cruel, but they also have been the source of documented disease outbreaks, including SARS, and researchers now believe that COVID-19 likely originated from a wet market. We’re urging the United Nations to view our important footage and recommend a ban on all wet markets that sell animals.
LAMBS TORMENTED IN “UNDERGROUND” SLAUGHTERHOUSES – Mexico
Animal Equality investigators in Mexico exposed the torment and killings of lambs and sheep in backyard pens and unregulated slaughterhouses. Our footage shows the brutality with which these sensitive animals were killed, with fully-conscious lambs tied up and decapitated, animals killed in full view of each other, injured animals left to bleed to death. Our team in Mexico is now working with lawmakers to criminalize these slaughterhouses and hold those who run them accountable.
ANIMALS MASSACRED IN MASSIVE RITUAL SLAUGHTER – NEPAL
Our investigators used drone cameras to document how thousands of buffaloes, goats, and pigeons were mutilated and violently killed during the Gadhimai festival’s latest event in 2019. The Gadhimai Festival hosts the world’s largest ritual animal slaughter, and happens every five years. Despite the Nepalese government declaring that ritual slaughter had been banned, the ban was not enforced and the brutal killings continued. Animal Equality’s work, along with other animal protection organizations, was able to reduce the number of animals killed by raising awareness—and thus public outcry—surrounding the event. We worked with the Red Cross to set up a blood donation drive at the event, so that participants could honor the deity by spilling their own blood instead of an animals’ blood.
SEVERE NEGLECT AT NEBRASKA CALF RANCH – United States
Shocking scenes of prolonged suffering and neglect were brought to light following our investigator’s time at Summit Calf Ranch in Nebraska, a facility housing 11,000 calves and owned by Tuls Dairy a supplier of Bel Brands, producer of Babybel and The Laughing Cow cheese. Many calves froze to death and endured repeated exposure to extreme temperatures resulting in frozen limbs, and the separation of the hoof from the leg of animals. Some calves died in agony. We turned over our evidence to authorities, and are urging criminal charges against those involved.
TUNAS FIGHT FOR THEIR LIVES DURING BRUTAL SLAUGHTER – Italy
Every Spring in Italy bluefin tunas are caught in traps as they migrate to their breeding grounds. Our groundbreaking investigation, which utilized both underwater and above water photography, documented the horrific scene in which these large animals are pushed to the water surface, harpooned and stabbed as they thrash about and struggle. The investigation, which was featured in part in the documentary Cowspiracy, shows the harsh reality of the plight of tunas, who aren’t protected by any humane slaughter laws or regulations.
TURKEY INDUSTRY EXPOSED – Spain
The footage captured by Animal Equality investigators in hatcheries, factory farms and slaughterhouses in Spain depict the cruelties that are the norm in the meat industry in the United States. We documented that in turkey hatcheries, the baby birds who do not meet the standards required by the industry are discarded alive along with the eggshells. They are killed in the trash containers, crushed while still conscious soon after seeing the world for the first time. Those who enter into the industry will have part of their sensitive beaks seared off and will be forced to live in confinement until they’re slaughtered.
HENS LEFT TO SUFFER AND DIE IN CAGES FOR EGGS – United Kingdom
An investigation by Animal Equality reveals scenes of severe animal suffering on a Dorset farm supplying ‘Big & Fresh’ eggs stocked by major UK retailers. Half a million birds were kept in metal cages in windowless sheds. Hidden camera footage reveals the caged hens were only checked-on once in four days by farm staff, a clear violation of welfare laws.
MONTHS-LONG INVESTIGATION EXPOSED HORRIFIC ABUSE AT PIG FARM – Italy
Animal Equality Italy, in collaboration with the country’s national media outlet Tg2, exposed atrocities inside a farm that raised pigs for meat. Despite the region’s animal welfare laws, the thousands of pigs living on the farm were forced to endure to shocking conditions including: decomposing and mummified bodies of pigs present, a worker who killed a pig by throwing him or her against a wall, and pigs forced to live in cages so small that they could hardly move, resulting in them being covered with wounds and bedsores.
ANIMAL EQUALITY BRAZIL DOCUMENTS THE MEAT INDUSTRY’S IMPACT ON AMAZON DEFORESTATION – Brazil
After the devastating wildfires decimated the Amazon Rainforest in the Fall of 2019, Animal Equality Brazil sent investigators to Northern Brazil to witness the increased deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and its connection to animal agriculture. Cattle farming is mostly responsible for deforestation of rainforests and other land. The meat industry intentionally sets fires to be able to turn forests into pasturelands for cows or soy plantations to grow feed for animals raised for food. Our footage shows that the devastation of the Amazon rainforest for animal agriculture is extreme and far-reaching.
These are just a few of our many investigations from around the world!