Updated on November 5, 2022

Leaping Bunny vs. PETA Cruelty-Free Certification – What’s the Difference?

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Do you know what those cute bunny logos on your cosmetics, personal care, and household cleaning products actually mean? 

You may associate the bunny logo with meaning the products and their ingredients are free from animal testing and is cruelty-free.

However, some of those “cruelty-free” bunny logos are fake and were created by brands themselves, some of which may still be testing on animals

Can you spot the difference between unofficial or ‘fake’ cruelty-free bunny logos vs. certified cruelty-free logos accredited by a third-party organization?

Know Your Cruelty-Free Bunny Logos

Below are some unofficial ‘cruelty-free’ bunny logos we just made up. I took some cute unlicensed bunny icons I found on the web. And to make it look legit, I used my basic Photoshop skills and added some unregulated terms like “Cruelty-Free,” “Not Tested on Animals,” and “No Animal Testing” to them. If I can do this, anyone can as well.

These unofficial bunny logos mean nothing. They’re cute but remember that they’re designed and marketed by the same people trying to sell you their products. 

On the other hand, the certified cruelty-free bunny logos on the right are accredited and licensed by a third-party organization. Companies must meet a list of cruelty-free standards, sign legal documents, and submit documentation to ensure compliance.

But not all certified cruelty-free logos are the same.

In this post, I’ll be examining the differences between two of the most popular cruelty-free certification programs: PETA and Leaping Bunny.

PETA has several variations of its certified cruelty-free logo. They’ve changed it several times throughout the years. The latest modification has a separate logo for companies selling their products in the EU because of the EU’s labeling laws that don’t allow companies to advertise their products as “cruelty-free.”

Companies may use different variations of PETA’s cruelty-free bunny logo but know they’re all the same and have the same standards. Except for the bunny logos that say “Vegan,” those are only designated to companies whose entire product line is free from animal-derived ingredients.

Leaping Bunny also has two variations of its cruelty-free bunny logo. One with and one without the words “Cruelty Free International” underneath.

Leaping Bunny is run by Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) and Cruelty Free International (CFI).

CCIC deals with companies based in the US and Canada. And CFI, while based in the UK, handles all other brands with headquarters outside the US and Canada.

Additionally, in 2021, Choose Cruelty Free (CCF), an Australian cruelty-free certification program, merged with Cruelty Free International. As part of the merger, the CCF accreditation program has become part of the global Leaping Bunny family as of June 2021. 

Now that we’re familiar with each cruelty-free bunny logo let’s take a deep dive into the differences between Leaping Bunny and PETA’s cruelty-free certifications.

PETA’s Cruelty-Free Standards

To apply for PETA’s cruelty-free certification, companies must fill out a short questionnaire and submit a statement of assurance signed by the CEO. 

PETA’s process verifies that the company and its ingredient suppliers don’t conduct, commission, pay for, or allow any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations, or finished products anywhere in the world and won’t do so in the future.

Leaping Bunny’s Cruelty-Free Standards

Leaping Bunny verifies that a company does not conduct, commission, or be a party to animal testing for its finished products, formulations, and ingredients. Also, Leaping Bunny verifies that a company does not allow animal testing by regulatory authorities in foreign countries.

What sets Leaping Bunny apart from PETA’s standards is its Supplier Monitoring Systemcompanies must be open to independent audits, and brands must recommit annually

Ingredient Suppliers

Leaping Bunny’s Supplier Monitoring System requires companies to show and submit proof of documents that their suppliers comply with Leaping Bunny’s standards.

PETA does not require brands to submit documents from their suppliers as proof of compliance.

Jen from My Beauty Bunny interviewed Kathy Guillermo, Senior Vice President of PETA’s Laboratory Investigations Department. In her interview, she confirmed that PETA does not require documents from suppliers, and instead, they request brands to have language in place with their suppliers that mandate a no-animal testing policy.

However, in the past, Suzi from Cruelty-Free Kitty exposed a PETA-certified brand that told her they were unable to confirm all of their suppliers don’t test on animals

Audits

Leaping Bunny-certified brands must be open to independent audits to ensure their supply chain management system is free of animal testing. Leaping Bunny may require brands to be audited to confirm that a certified company is truthful about purchasing ingredients from the corresponding cruelty-free suppliers they claimed when applying.

PETA does not conduct independent audits to ensure companies and their suppliers comply with its cruelty-free standards. 

Without audits and suppliers’ documents to prove compliance, the legitimacy of PETA’s standards depends on the honesty and accuracy of written statements made by the brand.

Recommitment

Leaping Bunny requires companies to recommit to its cruelty-free standards annually. Companies that don’t recommit are removed from Leaping Bunny’s directory. In addition, Leaping Bunny publishes a rolling list of brands that have chosen to recommit and those that did not. 

PETA does not require companies to go through a formal renewal process. And PETA does not have a publicly available list of brands no longer certified or removed from their cruelty-free directory. 

China

It used to be that companies that sold their products in China had to test on animals. However, recent updates to China’s animal testing laws have made it possible, under specific circumstances, for brands to register to sell domestically in China and avoid animal testing.

Here is how PETA and Leaping Bunny handle certified companies entering the Chinese marketplace.

Does PETA Allow Brands to Sell in China?

In the past, PETA removed several brands from its cruelty-free list when PETA investigations caught them selling in China, where at the time, animal testing was required for all cosmetics sold in China.

Now, PETA is working with brands like Dove, Herbal Essences, Wet n Wild, First Aid Beauty, and Physicians Formula to allow them to manufacture and sell their ‘general cosmetics’ in mainland China while remaining PETA-certified cruelty-free.

“In order to be eligible for inclusion on PETA’s Global Beauty Without Bunnies cruelty-free list, companies that sell in China may only sell domestically manufactured (made in China), non-special use cosmetics. They must commit to not introducing any products that would require tests on animals; to withdrawing their products from the region rather than allowing any tests on animals, should they become required; and to informing Chinese authorities of this policy to ensure that they are notified and can withdraw from the market in the unlikely event that animal tests become required for their products.” – PETA

Does Leaping Bunny Allow Brands to Sell in China?

Previously, Leaping Bunny did not allow certified brands to sell their products in stores in mainland China. However, in 2018, Leaping Bunny launched its China Pilot Project, allowing select brands to sell in China under their supervision. The project was only available to EU brands until now; Leaping Bunny just launched its China Qualification Program for certified companies in the US and Canada to sell in China and avoid animal testing.

Leaping Bunny China Qualification Program

“Leaping Bunny is partnering with trusted regulatory experts Knudsen&CRC, based in Shanghai, China, to ensure a company’s registration dossier does not include animal testing, along with post-market monitoring after sales commence. Companies will have to meet extensive registration criteria and will need to successfully complete both a Pre-Market Audit and a series of Post-Market Audits, conducted by Knudsen&CRC, which will screen for animal testing. Further, companies are required to sign an agreement promising to recall products rather than allow any animal testing, should the Chinese government require it for some reason.” – Leaping Bunny

Cruelty Free International China Pilot Project

“We have launched a ground-breaking pilot scheme that could pave the way for Leaping Bunny certified cosmetics companies to sell in China. By partnering with Knudsen&Co and Fengpu Industrial Park our project will help remove the remaining barriers of entry for cruelty free cosmetics brands looking to manufacture and market their products in China. International brands will be able to avoid testing on animals by producing cosmetics in China that don’t need post-market testing.” – Cruelty Free International

Cost

Application Fee

It is free to apply to PETA’s Global Beauty Without Bunnies Program. 

For US & Canadian companies, applying to Leaping Bunny’s program is free. However, companies with headquarters outside the US and Canada must go through Cruelty Free International’s Leaping Bunny Programme, which has an application fee. 

Licensing Fee

Companies that want to license and use the cruelty-free bunny logo on their product packaging and marketing materials must pay a licensing fee. However, licensing the cruelty-free bunny logo is optional and not required to be approved. 

PETA charges a one-time licensing fee of $350.

Leaping Bunny charges a one-time licensing fee, and it’s based on the company’s gross annual sales, ranging from $500 to $4,500 through CCIC, and starts at £149 per year for the smallest brands through CFI. 

Parent Companies

Both Leaping Bunny and PETA do not require parent companies to be certified.

Leaping Bunny states, “Brands that were purchased by non-certified parent companies must promise to operate as stand-alone subsidiaries with their own supply chains and must continue to meet the requirements of the Leaping Bunny Standard in order to remain on our list.”

Vegan

Companies can be certified by PETA under one of two designations, (1) Animal-Test Free or (2) Animal-Test Free and Vegan. A company’s entire product line must be vegan to qualify for PETA’s vegan designation. PETA defines ‘vegan’ as free of animal-derived ingredients.

Leaping Bunny does not require companies to be vegan or offer vegan products. Instead, Leaping Bunny strictly examines companies’ animal testing policies.

Conclusion

PETA and Leaping Bunny’s certifications are helpful for cruelty-free consumers wanting to make more conscious choices. Both programs were created to get companies to stop animal testing and encourage consumers to choose cruelty-free. 

PETA’s and Leaping Bunny’s programs are free to apply. However, both charge a licensing fee if companies want to advertise using their cruelty-free bunny logo. And the parent company does not need to be certified to be approved by either PETA or Leaping Bunny.

How the two certifications differ is Leaping Bunny requires companies to submit documents from their suppliers; companies must be open to independent audits and renew annually. PETA does not require any of the above; therefore, its standards are based on what the brand tells them. 

However, when shopping for both cruelty-free and vegan products, Leaping Bunny does not offer a vegan designation. On the other hand, PETA certifies companies that are animal-test-free and that are also vegan.

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What do you think

27 thoughts on “Leaping Bunny vs. PETA Cruelty-Free Certification – What’s the Difference?”

  1. I think people should try to encourage China to end all animal testing. However, having said that and doing business in China, I know first hand how absolutely overwhelming that will be. The views on animals in China by many people I have come in contact with in certain parts of China vary wildly from animals being seen as just a food source to those that are more in line with the views held on this website. You would be hard pressed to find many vegans in China. There are cultural reasons for this as well that are centuries old. I think the key is in educating younger people who are studying abroad as they bring information back to their country. As you know information access is limited in China. Reaching out to young people studying in other countries is our best bet. Regarding the guidelines above. How upsetting to know that they are so varied. I feel that one is constantly trying not to fail. I’m getting to the point that I just do my own activism. If I want to know the policies of a company I just email them directly for my own knowledge and share that info with friends. I think we all have to take responsibility for our own actions and hope that people will do the same even if it take a lot of time. I also think that tolerance on all fronts is best. If I get a response that I am not happy with I write back and kindly tell them that I cannot consume their product while animal testing is in place. Money is a great motivator. Thanks for the website.

    1. I loved reading your response, Linda! Thank you for sharing your insight on this complex issue. I wholeheartedly agree with you, my cultural background is part Chinese where a quarter of my family is from China so I understand the struggle of trying to get them to see why animal testing or even eating animals isn’t morally justified nowadays.

      and you bring up such a valid point of how we should educate younger people who are studying abroad with the hopes that they’ll bring the information back to their country and influence within… I know this will surely make a difference in the long-term.

      it’s also great to hear that you’re actively involved in reaching out to companies and hearing them out and then sharing that information with your friends. I hands down believe that our purchasing power is going to help change things faster than waiting around for laws and regulations to be put into place!

      1. i just wanted to say thank you very much for the information…..i know there’s always a ‘back-door’ it seems when it comes to anti-cruelty/animal testing logos and you have to take most things with an unfortunate grain of salt, so i appreciate any additional education/knowledge on the products i buy, seeing that i’m trying to buy ‘bunny’ logo only products…..

  2. About unofficial bunny logos:
    Even when (arguably) most people prefer cruelty free products, many still want animal testing, so it is a bit of a gamble for a company to use such logo, if they are not been honest with what they really do.
    Still, better that than nothing, I guess, if things come to worst.

  3. Yakwa Nawah Machir

    Pure Power Panda Tweeted you, I got Gmail Notification; checked earlier. Was about cosmetics. I was confused at first, was thinking Panda started this website; until I read About Ethical Elephant. Interesting article, look forward to listening to what you have to say about Veganism.

  4. I have been an advocate for and consumer of cruelty free products for at least 15 years. I am so thrilled the issue has become so much more mainstream and cruelty free products are so much easier to find now! However, there is still a long way to go! I still have people laugh when I say I only buy products that are cruelty free or people ask “why would a company test (fill in the blank) on animals?”. I think both reactions are because people simply do not realize the majority of household and personal care products are tested on animals. So thank you for your website. You are helping get the word out! Like a previous poster, if I can’t find the animal testing policy for a company online, I email the company directly to find out. If they respond that they do not have a cruelty free policy, I respond asking them to consider and state I am unable to use their products until they are cruelty free. Lastly, when I first started purchasing cruelty free I always used the PETA list as my guide. However, I have since looked for any of the three or direct correspondence with the company. Now that I see the differences on your website, I will certainly be looking more for the Leaping Bunny logo and using that list. Thank you for what you do!!

  5. I wish to promote cruelty free in my hometown
    Wonder if I can repost your table comparing the three cruelty free logos to my Facebook page?

    1. Great article, thanks for clarifying! I have a website promoting cruelty free beauty and fragrance, and I just got asked how to distinguish between the “cruelty free” logos and what the differences are. I have already done some research on this and have posted about it, but your blog is more detailed. I will mention your blog in my reply to my poster.

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