|WSPA's origins go back more than forty five years. The society's present
structure was created in 1981 through the merger of the World Federation for the
Protection of Animals (WFPA), founded in 1953, and the International Society for the
Protection of Animals (ISPA), founded in 1959.
WFPA and ISPA were the first
organisations to campaign internationally on animal welfare issues, highlighting problems
such as the Canadian seal hunt, the devastation of the world's whale population and the
international transportation of horses. In the early 1960's ISPA established a reputation
for its emergency work bringing aid to the animal victims of disasters. One of WFPA's most
significant achievements was the passing of a series of wide ranging animal conventions by
the Council of Europe.
From its original bases in the UK and the USA, WSPA has extended and enhanced the work
of these organisations. During the early 1980s, new field offices were established in
Costa Rica, Colombia, and Canada which considerably increased the scope of the society's
investigations and projects. Today, WSPA has 13 offices worldwide and over 400,000
individual supporters. WSPA is also the world's largest network of animal protection
specialists having a membership of over 400 animal protection societies in 91 countries.
The society is represented on numerous international bodies and is the only animal welfare
organization to have consultative status at the United Nations and the Council of Europe.
A key area of WSPA's work has been the introduction of animal welfare principles into
regions where they were previously under developed or non- existent. WSPA has successfully
introduced procedures such as pre-slaughter stunning in many Third World countries and has
run numerous projects to improve the conditions of stray animal populations. In Eastern
Europe, following the political revolution which swept through the region from 1989, WSPA
gave resources to many new animal protection groups and contributed to the passing of
national animal welfare laws in several countries.
Building on the experience of ISPA, WSPA staff have brought emergency aid to animals
during floods, earthquakes, explosions, famines, oil spills and wars in six continents and
has built up a reputation as a world leader in this field. Most recently its staff were
involved in a year long operation to evacuate animals stranded on the volcanic island of
Montserrat in the Caribbean.
WSPA has also undertaken high profile campaigns to focus public opinion on some of the
world's most urgent animal welfare problems. In 1985 WSPA took over the work of the
International Council Against Bullfighting and since then has led worldwide opposition to
this brutal custom. In 1988 WSPA launched the NO FUR campaign which was adopted by over 50
member organisations and took the arguments against the wearing of fur to all corners of
the globe. In 1991, the Society's launched Libearty, the World Campaign for Bears, which
has highlighted for the first time the plight of this species. Libearty has become one of
WSPA's most successful projects establishing bear sanctuary's in Greece, Turkey, Thailand
and fighting to end cruel practices such as dancing bears and bear baiting.
Another of WSPA's most active projects is the Pet Respect Campaign which seeks to
alleviate the plight of millions of unwanted companion animals that are often
indiscriminately destroyed through cruel methods. WSPA has been active in setting up
seminars and humane methods of stray dog and cat control in many countries, including
Taiwan, Poland, Cyprus, Grenada, Kenya, India, Romania, Spain, Greece, and Colombia.
Working together with the World Health Organisation, WSPA has produced a set of guidelines
on stray animal control aimed at reducing dog populations through neutering and
eliminating rabies by vaccination.
In 1991, WSPA launched Libearty, the World Campaign for Bears, which highlighted the welfare plight of all bear species around the world for the first time. Libearty has become one of WSPA's most successful projects establishing bear sanctuary's in Greece, Turkey, Thailand and fighting to end cruel practices such as dancing bears, bear baiting, and the farming of bears for bile in Asia. WSPA has also supported work to rehabilitate orphaned cubs to enable their release back to the wild and is currently focusing on the humane resolution of bear-human conflict situations around the world.
WSPA has supported the work of Idaho Black
Bear Rehab Inc. since 1998.