Animal Charity

2020 – the high and lows

UK Director Brian da Cal reflects on the year


2020 has undoubtedly been a year like no other. Sadly, the year started with our FOUR PAWS family mourning the sudden and unexpected passing of Heli Dungler, CEO and Founder of FOUR PAWS, a friend to all animals and to me. His passing brought with it a time of reflection for all, but in his spirit, we all came together to ensure that FOUR PAWS continued to work for animals under direct human influence through revealing their suffering, rescuing them and protecting them. Heli’s vision was a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. It is this vision which we have carried on throughout 2020 under the leadership of our new CEO and Heli’s lifelong friend, Josef Pfabigan.

Animal Charity

Everything Stood Still

While still mourning the tragic loss of Heli, the world was struck by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Like many around the world, our teams set up offices at home and continued working amidst the uncertainty of when this would end. However, it gave us time to reflect and respond to the crisis facing the world and led to the launch of #LiveKinder, which for the first time, brought together our work across wild, companion and farmed animals. Since its launch in June, we have shared numerous pillars with you that address how we can adopt changes to our day-to-day lives to ensure that we can be kinder in what we eat, kinder in what we do and kinder in the way we treat animals and the planet. Furthermore, we continue to call to account and apply pressure on companies and governments around the world to change practices and laws that will drive the global changes for animal welfare that we need to see. Please find out more about it here.

Animal Charity

Lockdown vs. Release

While most of us learned to live with unprecedented restrictions on the daily freedoms that we take for granted, for some animals, 2020 represented the first time that many of them got to experience life in somewhere other than a cage. From orangutans and bears to cats and dogs, and even an elephant, we rescued animals of all shapes and sizes in 2020. Some of these missions required planning from afar due to teams not being able to travel because of COVID-19 restrictions. These accomplishments have meant even more this year. One that stands out for me was the rescue of seven bears during one mission. These bears had spent their lives on a bile bear farm and had never known an existence outside of the bars that contained them. But now, they are adjusting to their new home at BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh in north Vietnam.

Animal Charity

The "Biggest" Rescue Ever

As briefly mentioned above, a story that has captured the hearts of many around the world has been of Kaavan, the world’s loneliest elephant. At the end of November, the 36-year old left Pakistan after living a lonely life for the last eight years since his partner, Saheli, died. After originally being gifted to Pakistan at just one year old, for the next 35 years he was kept in a small enclosure with little enrichment and a lacklustre diet that left him overweight, malnourished and distressed. But now, he is adjusting to a new and positive future at Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary and will soon be released into his wider enclosure where he will have three female companions. I can’t wait to continue following Kaavan’s journey and our team will keep sharing the latest updates with you too across our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

Animal Charity

The Future

2020 has been a year of heartbreak, uncertainty and new realities. But it has also provided an opportunity for the world to make things better for animals and in doing so, ourselves. Throughout, I have remained so proud of the work that FOUR PAWS is doing around the globe and in the UK. Efforts to deliver stray animal care and stray feeding programmes have been amplified during various lockdowns and countless animals have been helped by our teams. Thousands of you have signed petitions and joined our calls for action to be taken to protect animals. Most notable this year has been the support to end the global wildlife trade and passing the one million signature mark for ending the dog and cat meat trade in Southeast Asia.

All of these successes could not have been possible without our supporters and I want to end by saying thank you. Thank you for using your voice to help those without one, thank you for your donations that make our work possible and thank you for spreading the important messages that we communicate every day. We will continue to strive for more humanity towards animals well into 2021 and beyond. May I wish you all a very happy 2021.

Animal Charity

Brian da Cal


Brian da Cal is responsible for overseeing the effective communicaton of FOUR PAWS' international projects and campaigns to a UK audience in addition to all UK-based campaigns and acting as the national representative of FOUR PAWS UK.

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