Animal-rights advocates have gained a powerful new ally: Middle Earth. After two years of intense lobbying, New Zealand’s members of Parliament unanimously voted on Tuesday to ban animal trials for cosmetics products in the country—the first in the Australiasian region to do so. “We are thrilled that New Zealand’s politicians have taken this important step to vote out cosmetics cruelty,” says Claire Mansfield, global director for Humane Society International’s “Be Cruelty-Free” campaign to eradicate animal cosmetics testing. “This is a moment to be celebrated for animal welfare and compassionate consumers, and yet another achievement for the #BeCrueltyFree campaign.”

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Mansfield adds that the support of local groups such as the New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society and Helping You Help Animals, as well as companies like LUSH, Antipodes, Wendyl’s and Kester Black, all proved instrumental to achieving this “animal-welfare milestone.”

The group also credits celebrities such as Michelle Langstone (The Almighty Johnsons), Sam Bunkall (Shortland Street), netball champion Irene van Dyke, musicians Anna Coddington, MC Tali, Tiki Taane, Flip Grater, Rosa Dub, and Brockaflower, and legendary Queen guitarist Brian May for raising public awareness.

More than 89 percent of Kiwi consumers are in favor of the ban, according to opinion polls. In addition, over 100,000 people signed #BeCrueltyFree petitions and e-cards.

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Still the revised Animal Welfare Act has its limitations. Although animal testing of finished cosmetics and cosmetic ingredients will be illegal throughout New Zealand, the current ban doesn’t apply to “dual use” ingredients, i.e. substances that may be co-regulated under chemical laws or other regulations. Nor does it impose restrictions on the import and sale of cosmetics animal-tested abroad.

Tackling these shortfalls is Be Cruelty-Free’s next goal, says the program’s leaders, who note that similar bans are being considered in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Taiwan, and the United States.

“This is a positive step for New Zealand and brings us closer into line with the growing international move away from animal testing of cosmetics,” says Stephen Manson for Be Cruelty-Free New Zealand. “We hope that the next move by the government will be to end the import and sale of animal-tested cosmetics. We can then play our full role in ending this practice globally.”

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