Professor Marsha Baum Takes Animal Law Focus to Australia

November 1, 2011

Marsha Baum

Professor Marsha Baum spent last summer in Australia, studying and speaking about animals and the law. In July, she was the invited keynote speaker at the Australian Animal Studies Group conference in Brisbane, where she spoke on the impact of the law in the United States on animals used in research and their advocates. The talk addressed the topic from two directions, looking at both the New Mexico State v. Lee case concerning the chimps at the Alamogordo Primate Facility and at the impact of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act on advocacy for animals used in research.

Following the conference, Baum turned to her other research area of treatment of animals in disasters and spent time examining areas of Queensland that had been affected by the January 2011 flooding and discussing with various governmental and private entities the efforts made to rescue and protect animals during the natural disaster.

In August, Baum was the visiting animal law scholar at the University of Sydney, where she delivered the inaugural Sabina van der Linden-Wolanski Animal Law Lecture, as well as a lecture to the law school’s animal law class.

Baum’s research interests focus on the legal status of animals and the impact of that status on animals in research and on animals in disasters. Her most recent publication is a chapter in Considering Animals, which discusses the impact of the PETS Act, federal legislation that was passed post-Hurricane Katrina in an effort to recognize the impact of animal evacuation on human evacuation during disasters.

Since 2007, Baum has had the opportunity to visit Australia three times to perform comparative research on animals in disasters and in research, meeting with various governmental officials and researchers in academia to discuss the policies and procedures.

During her research trip this summer, she was able to attend animal ethics committee meetings at various research institutions, to speak directly with government officials in Tasmania and New South Wales about animal welfare and animals used in research, and to connect with experts and commentators in academia on the issue of legal status and treatment of animals in Australia as compared with the United States.