WHAT would Luna Lovegood make of it? Her Hogwarts classmates would most certainly have raised an eyebrow, being more familiar with dragons, hippogriffs and unicorns than farm animals.
But Harry Potter star Evanna Lynch took a stand for tens of thousands of Europe’s calves, as she launched a campaign against their export to “shocking and brutal” fates.
Miss Lynch – famous for playing the blonde Ravenclaw pupil with “a permanently surprised look” in the wizard-school films – was acting on behalf of the real-life animals sent beyond EU borders and subjected to “horrendously cruel” handling and slaughter.
Together with her Order of the Phoenix co-star Robbie Jarvis and animal-welfare protesters, she took the fight against the trade to the European Commission in London.
Three million cattle and sheep are transported live from Europe every year, mostly to Middle Eastern and north African countries, where video footage, photographs and witness reports reveal appalling cruelty, both during the journeys and when they are killed – either in the street or in rudimentary abattoirs.
Footage taken by charity Compassion in World Farming (CiWF) has exposed how:
- cattle are dragged with ropes by their tails, legs, fleeces and even eye sockets
- some are strung up with chains by just one leg – to take their whole body weight. Others are forced into mechanical boxes that flip them, still alive, upside down, onto the bodies of other animals
- often slaughterers use blunt knives to cut the animals’ throats, leaving them to die slowly and suffering immensely before losing consciousness
- in the street, the European animals often have their feet bound and are tied down before being knifed to death – again leading to a slow, grisly death.
Miss Lynch, Mr Jarvis and CiWF are calling on the European Commission to end the live export of animals beyond the continent to bring a halt to such suffering. More than 100 MEPs back the demand.
Helping to launch the charity’s new drive for a live export ban, Miss Lynch told The News Hub: “I think the suffering is completely unnecessary and is easily remedied with a little bit of compassion.
“So many people aren’t aware that this trade goes on – for instance, I’m vegan, but my family eat meat, and when I tell them what goes on, they say, ‘It doesn’t happen here’. Because people don’t realise this horrible practice happens.
“It’s grotesque but it’s the truth. I don’t think it would continue if people were aware.”
The suffering is completely unnecessary and is easily remedied with a little compassion
– Evanna Lynch
The 24-year-old Irish actress also signed a life-size sculpture of a cow bound by the feet and struggling – the emblem of the charity’s new campaign. It was based on harrowing footage taken of a cow as it was about to be knifed.
The sculpture will tour seven EU countries, as a 3D petition, ending up at the European Commission in Rome later this month.
“If it’s this powerful as a sculpture, what’s it like in the flesh for these animals?” said Miss Lynch.
Francesca Odell was among those calling on the commission to end live exports
CiWF supporters and fans joined the stars for the launch outside the European Commission’s London offices, where they held banners and heard Jean Lambert, a Green Party MEP, say the campaign was not about protectionism but animal welfare. “It’s about doing the right thing,” she said.
The commission, which often talks about better regulation, could ban live exports, she insisted. “That is genuine better regulation, it’s popular regulation – it’s what people want to see,” she said.
And she called for treaty change if necessary to bring about a ban. If MEPs talked to their own parties back home, they could influence national governments, so pressure on the commission would come from governments, civil society, and campaigns such as this one, and it would have to act, she said.
It was the European Commission that blocked efforts by the European Parliament to limit the live export trade.
Once animals leave Europe, they are no longer protected by EU regulations.
The European Commission says it is concerned about animal welfare, and has already held workshops to train slaughterhouse workers in correct practices.
People signing the sculpture of the tied-up cow
CiWF wants the trade in live animals to be replaced by one in meat.
News of the tour is being spread on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag “cowontour”.
The actress, also known as Evy, said it was an inspiring afternoon and praised the charity’s “brave and fearlessly compassionate” team.
CiWF is urging everyone to sign its petition against live exports.