Saudi man advocates for animal rights one tweet at a time

Bander al-Fawaz started a Twitter account dedicated to showing videos of all kinds of animals

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One Saudi man has taken upon himself to advocate for animal rights in the region and he is changing hearts one tweet at a time.

Bander al-Fawaz started a Twitter account dedicated to showing videos of all kinds of animals. While most of the videos show how smart and delicate animals can be, his most watched videos are those that show them at their most vulnerable.

Al Arabiya sat down with al-Fawaz to ask about his social media activism on behalf of animal rights and talk about what is being done on the legislative level to curb animal torture and abuse.

Al Arabiya: Can you talk to us about your Twitter account “Facts on Animals”?

Al-Fawaz: We started the account in the beginning to just give facts about animals but then expanded to include more information on how to be compassionate toward them. As more and more people began to follow us on Twitter, we began to raise more awareness and campaign against animal abuse.

Al Arabiya: Why animals specifically?

Al-Fawaz: To be honest, there are those in our societies that are not aware of the extent of animals’ feelings. I’ve personally witnessed animals being abused and tortured in our region and wanted to do something about it and change it on a cultural level. And we’re slowly seeing this change every time we show a video of a person torturing an animal, people are getting angry.

Al Arabiya: How are people engaging with your videos?

Al-Fawaz: The engagement has been huge. A lot of people have constantly ask me to launch a hashtag campaign to get as many involved and aware of certain animal rights abuse.

Al Arabiya: Which video has received the most feedback on your account?

Al-Fawaz: There are many videos that get more attention than others. But there is one video which showed a horse being denied any food by its owner and the horse in the stable next to it feeding it some hay.

Al Arabiya: Are these videos showing mistreatment of horses more prevalent in our region or abroad?

Al-Fawaz: I’ll be completely honest, there’s a lack of real legislation and law that prevents these things from happening, and I’ve never heard of anyone being prosecuted here after he or she has abused an animal. Yes, there is mistreatment of animals in regions outside of ours, but at least there are laws that instill fear in those who think about abusing animals.

Al Arabiya: What needs to be done to stop this from happening?

Al-Fawaz: We have to start by raising awareness in the schools and teaching our young generation about the importance of treating animals with compassion as they have feelings just like human beings.

I also hope that proper laws are passed to hold accountable those who abuse animals as well as those who spread videos showing such acts for entertainment purposes.

Al Arabiya: There was one recent video showing the trend of coloring baby chicks and selling them. Tell us more about that?

Al-Fawaz: Yes, there’s this trend of some commercial pets stores where they take baby chickens and spraying them with coloring agents so that they could be sold later. This is dangerous as the coloring spray paints are toxic and enters the chicks’ digestive system. This causes them to die within a week and so it is a cycle for these pet stores. Many in Saudi Arabia were quick to start a hashtag campaign and it actually trended on Twitter and many boycotted these pet stores.

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