Animal trials

One of the most ridiculous activities that humans have done against animals is to put them on trial. This was considered a serious practice in past centuries and it is shameful to say that even in the 21st century cases are still occurring.

This has happened all over the world and for various reasons, from the moral, the religious, the morbid. Humans are always looking for ways to impose their ideas on the world.

From accusing weevils, elephants and donkeys, to accusing them of all possible crimes, especially murder.

In India there have been many cases, for example the case of 8 donkeys that were locked up in prison for committing the “crime” of eating several meters of young trees, which had been planted to beautify the landscape. A goat devoured some flowers that belonged to the garden of a magistrate.

In Europe they did this activity several times from the 13th to the 18th century, being the pigs the biggest “criminals” of this period, although from those days until today, it is considered as something completely absurd. The problem is that this is not the case on all continents.


                                            Illustration of a pig stealing and murdering a human baby

Although in modern times it is considered that animals do not understand these moral values, therefore they cannot be judged, it has not prevented that strange cases continue to occur in which other species are subjected to such treatment.

When animals were accused in the past, most were executed or exiled. It is impressive how the people who presided over these trials took it seriously and often devoured the corpses of the animals that were put on trial.

In 1750 there was a case of zoophilia in which a sick man abused an innocent donkey. The most terrible thing about this case is that the donkey was accused of bestiality and was going to be executed for this action, it was necessary the intervention of several witnesses who assured that the equine’s conduct was impeccable so that her life would be spared. The abuser was sentenced to death.

In past centuries, as it was considered a really serious subject, there were several people who dedicated themselves to investigate and deepen about this subject, there were even lawmen specialized in defending animals. The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals and other texts narrate the difficulties of this type of trials.

The case of Katya the bear is one of the most devastating and is an event of the 21st century. At first she was part of a circus company, who used her as an attraction in their “show” as a baby, after a while they left her abandoned and locked in a cage where, unfortunately, the events that led to her imprisonment took place.

A reckless child and a drunkard were the ones who caused the poor bear to be sentenced and taken to a place destined for human criminals, since at the time, that country did not have any appropriate place for this bear.

Her sentence was to be for life, locked up in the men’s prison UK-161/2, where she lived for fifteen years locked up in a cell. While these were not the conditions for a female of her species, her treatment by the inmates was far better than expected.

They smuggled in various merchandise, to feed her fruits, sweets and whatever food they could. They even sculpted a statue in his honor, he was the symbol of that prison. Thanks to the case becoming world famous in 2019, Katya was finally moved to a small zoo, where at least she will have the company of other bears.

While times are slowly changing, it is very interesting to note that these events are actually still happening today, it is disturbing that humans think they have the right to impose their laws on nature.

If such practices have not yet been completely abolished, we have a long road ahead of us for the total abolition of cruel practices against animals.



Fantastically Wrong: Europe’s Insane History of Putting Animals on Trial and Executing Them | WIRED

The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals, by E. P. Evans—A Project Gutenberg eBook

Meet Katya, the Brown Bear Serving a Life Sentence in a Kazakh Prison (

Brown bear who was ‘sentenced’ to time in a human jail has been freed to live in a zoo  | Daily Mail Online

Strange But Serious Medieval Animal Trials Were No Kangaroo Court! | Ancient Origins (