Nordic Animal Law Scholars Meet for the First Time
- by Joyce Tischler, CALS Animal Law Professor of Practice
Associate Dean, Pamela Frasch and I have just returned from the very first Nordic Animal Law Training conference, held in Turku, Finland. This interactive conference was a joint effort by the Center for Animal Law Studies and Åbo Akademi University School of Law, and brought together legal scholars and professors from Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. The participants are dedicated animal law advocates, who are eager to actively protect animals and work together to build their legal rights.
The four-day intensive training included a trip to the Helsinki Zoo, an experiential tool developed by Pamela Frasch to teach students about what life would have been like for zoo animals if they had been allowed to live out their lives in their natural habitats, the laws providing minimum standards of care for captive wild animals in zoos, and the reality of their lives in cages in zoos. It is a highly effective training technique, and the import was not lost on the participants.
The excitement in the classroom at Åbo Akademi was palpable, as advocates from the Nordic countries met for the first time to review EU and specific Nordic country laws relevant to animals, discuss common problems faced by animals in their countries, and explore potential solutions. As I watched them interact, I was transported back to New York City on Thanksgiving weekend in 1981: the inaugural gathering of animal law advocates in the U.S. I remember feeling as if I was walking out of a dark cave and into the sunlight for the first time, meeting other legal professionals who shared my desire to use my legal skills to help animals. The power of such a conference cannot be overstated. In that room in NYC were the people who formed the nucleus of the animal law movement in America. I have a strong sense that history will repeat itself in Scandinavia, where animal law is now in its infancy. And, this is the goal of the Center for Animal Law Studies: on a worldwide basis, to train the animal law leaders of tomorrow. We can’t wait to see what this group of smart, motivated, and creative advocates accomplishes for animals.