By Sara Amundson and Kitty Block
Animals used by the cosmetics testing industry have long suffered in silence. But they now have a new spokesbunny, Ralph, who is telling it like it is.
“Save Ralph” is a powerful stop-motion animation short film featuring Oscar winner Taika Waititi as the voice of Ralph, who is being interviewed for a documentary as he goes through his daily routine as a “tester” in a lab. “I’m a tester. My daddy was a tester, my mom, my brothers, my sisters, my kids. All testers,” he tells a documentary filmmaker voiced by actor and animal advocate Ricky Gervais. Ralph tells his interviewer that he is “doing it for the humans,” so long as “just one human can have the illusion of a safer lipstick or deodorant,” regardless of his own personal suffering.
HSI’s #SaveRalph campaign tackles the cruelty of animal testing in an original and unexpected way—using the story of one bunny to shine a light on the plight of countless rabbits and other animals in laboratories around the world.
While Ralph is animated, the miseries he endures in the short film are far from made up. As Spencer Susser, the director of “Save Ralph,” says, “It’s so important that Ralph feels real because he represents countless real animals who suffer every day.”
Susser, known for his film “Hesher,” is among a slate of powerhouse celebrities and influencers who collaborated with Humane Society International on the making of “Save Ralph.” In addition to Waititi as Ralph and Gervais as the interviewer, the film has Zac Efron as Bobby, Olivia Munn as Marshmallow, Pom Klementieff as Cinnamon and Tricia Helfer as Cottonballs.
Producer Jeff Vespa (“Voices of Parkland”) teamed up with the Arch Model studio of puppet maker supreme Andy Gent on the production.
The film will also be launched in Portuguese, Spanish, French and Vietnamese, with global celebrities like Rodrigo Santoro, Rosario Dawson, Wilmer Valderrama, H’Hen Nie, Diem My, Denis Villeneuve and others voicing the characters in those languages, and Maggie Q providing a video message of support for the #SaveRalph campaign in southeast Asia. The campaign will focus particularly on 16 countries, including Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, and 10 southeast Asian nations, where we hope to move lawmakers to ban cosmetics animal testing.
We are also hoping Ralph will amplify our ongoing efforts here in the United States, where four states have already passed bans to end the sale of animal-tested cosmetics, and where the Humane Society of the United States is hard at work to get more statewide laws passed. The Humane Society Legislative Fund is also anticipating that the Humane Cosmetics Act, a bill prohibiting cosmetics animal testing and imports with the support of more than 900 companies, will be reintroduced shortly and movement is expected this Congress.
Animal testing for cosmetics is not just cruel, it is absolutely unnecessary. These tests are unreliable predictors of human safety and can under- or over-estimate real-world hazards to people. Many non-animal methods have been, and continue to be, developed for new ingredients that deliver human-relevant results at less cost and in less time than traditional animal tests.
In the film, when Ralph is clamped into the acrylic restraint, the other bunnies, awed by his new celebrity, press him to ask the documentary crew to “get us out of here.” We are working to make sure that cry for help is heard around the world and we are fighting for the day when no animal, anywhere, is subjected to the needless misery of cosmetics testing.
Kitty Block is President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.