Written by PETA
Eva Mendes—the gorgeous star of Training Day, Hitch, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Ghost Rider, and most recently the brilliant We Own the Night featuring Mark Wahlberg and our old friend Joaquin Phoenix—is also the new face of our winter anti-fur campaign. Once you’ve had a long look at this stunning new anti-fur ad, take a deep breath and check out what Eva had to say when she sat down with us for this PETA Files exclusive interview about what led her to speak out about the cruel treatment of animals in the fur industry:
How did you come to get involved with helping animals? Did you have any animal companions growing up?
I love animals, but I hadn't had a pet since I was a kid. I recently got a dog and he's not only made me a happier girl—he's made me much more sympathetic to animal rights. I look at my beautiful dog and think, "Of course I'd never eat him or skin him for his fur, so why would I be okay with eating a cow or wearing a cheetah?" It's just not right. It's a contradiction.
Do you have any animals? Can you tell us about them?
I recently got the most beautiful dog in the world! He's the sweetest thing ever. He's fully trained and all his commands are in French. Too cute! So I'm learning French and he's learning Spanish!
What drew you to the idea of working with PETA on our "Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur" Campaign?
I wasn't familiar with PETA early in my career. I remember having my first premiere in New York City and being so naive that I didn't have a coat with me. My stylist sent me a fur wrap for the evening and I ignorantly wore it.
PETA then wrote me a beautiful letter commenting on my less-than-educated choice. I was so impressed that I vowed to them and myself to never wear real fur on the red carpet or in my life again.
As a fashion icon in Hollywood, do you find that people put pressure on you to wear fur on the red carpet? If so, how do you handle that?
A lot of the high-end designers are unfortunately still big on fur, but I simply let them know that I won't wear it on the red carpet or for photo shoots. People are pretty respectful and don't try to pressure me to wear fur (smart for them … haha).
Can you tell us about the projects you are working on right now and also about your film We Own The Night?
We Own The Night is a crime thriller set in the late 1980s about two brothers on opposite sides of the law. I play the girlfriend of Joaquin Phoenix, a manager for a club involved with the Russian Mafia, whose brother (played by Mark Wahlberg) is a cop targeting the Mafia for drug involvement. It's a great cast, and it was such a thrill to play opposite actors like Joaquin, Mark, and Robert Duvall. I've also just finished filming The Women, which was very cool, and I’m just starting a really amazing project called The Spirit.
What issue involving animals is dearest to your heart? Also, you have a lot of fans out there which gives you a powerful platform to reach people and make a difference: What is your message to them about having compassion and getting active to help animals?
I'd say the closest animal rights issue to me right now is being anti-fur. I feel like in recent years, due to pop culture, fur has made a comeback. Some people still see wearing fur as glamorous and a sign of prosperity. Personally I think wearing a baby chinchilla says, "I'm ignorant," vs. saying "I'm a badass." I don't think you can force people to change their attitudes, but you can help to educate them and to lead by example. … There are way too many amazing faux fur options out there for people to still be wearing real fur. I want people to know that there are options; that killing a poor animal and wearing it isn't cool. But respecting all life forms is cool. Very cool.
You may remember the uproar surrounding our recent investigation into the Oregon National Primate Research Center, which found apparent violations of animal protection laws and monkeys who were living in constant fear, confined to small cages and traumatized by rough handling. Well, the latest news we’re hearing from Oregon is that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is charged with responding to animal abuse complaints such as this one, has investigated the ONPRC and come up with nothing. A representative of ONPRC, Michael Conn, responded to these reports with the following little piece of Orwellian spin:
"Our business involves offering hope to people with disease. My colleagues and I will not be deterred by extremist organizations or those who choose to campaign based on false information and harassment."
The “false information” that Mr. Conn is referring to is incontrovertible video evidence from a painstaking four-month investigation that yielded extensive documentation of abuse, mishandling, and bad practice at the institution. What he means by “harassment,” I can only assume, is the fact that PETA dared to bring the ONPRC’s dirty secrets to the attention of the public. And, of course, when Conn talks about “offering hope to people with disease,” he is presumably referring to the fact that his organization takes the public’s money to perform redundant and inconclusive experiments on defenseless animals—including injecting pregnant monkeys with nicotine and killing their babies to investigate just how bad smoking is for you, and psychologically abusing infant primates to study whether trauma is traumatic.
PETA’s Director of Research, Kathy Guillermo, responded to these reports today with the following letter to the editor. Check it out, and then watch the video of our investigation for yourself to decide whether the primate center deserves anything short of being shut down forever.
Editor:If the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) really has found no problems at the primate center, either the law needs to change or the inspectors do. The evidence gathered by PETA’s investigator was shattering: Monkeys screamed in terror as employees chased them around gang cages, grabbed them and pinned their arms behind their backs. An infant monkey, taken from her own mother rocked inconsolably on the floor of a cage, clutching her arm—her only source of comfort. Monkeys, cornered in their small cages, couldn’t escape the needle-sharp spray of high pressure hoses. Animals driven mad by confinement and isolation whirled in their cages, unable to find comfort. See video of all this at StopAnimalTests.com. More likely, this is a shameful whitewash by the primate center, and this inspection is just one part of a larger, ongoing investigation. It would be impossible to examine fully—in just 2 days—every example of abuse PETA’s investigator documented. USDA inspectors normally spend many, many months, reviewing documents, photos and video, and interviewing the whistleblower. The real tragedy is that the primate center continues to make disingenuous excuses rather than taking meaningful action to alleviate the terrible suffering witnessed by PETA’s investigator.Sincerely, Kathy GuillermoDirector of Research
The British Olympic committee is off to a lovely start. They’ve evidently refused to allow an animal rescue group to save feral cats living in a colony on the future site of Olympic Park in London. What this means, in effect, is that these animals will be starved, crushed, and buried before building begins for the British Olympics. Not exactly the most auspicious foundation on which to construct the British Olympic hopes—and, given that an animal rescue group is standing by to take care of the problem in a humane way, it’s just not an acceptable way of carrying on.
Please click here to tell the British Olympic Delivery Authority to stop being such a bunch of heartless bureaucrats and allow the Celia Hammond Animal Trust to save the feral cats at Olympic Park before demolition begins. Thanks.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a possibly just ever-so-slightly overzealous fan of the Washington Redskins (or was, until their abysmal fourth-quarter performance against the Bills this weekend). And most people will have heard the tragic news about Redskins safety Sean Taylor, who was killed last week in what appears to have been a botched robbery attempt at his home.
Like most Skins fans, I was pretty shaken when I heard the news, and I’ve been following the story very closely over the past few days to try and make some sense of it. One of the few positive things that came up in the reports about the tragedy was that Taylor had adopted a vegetarian diet in the last few weeks of his life, which, in addition to breaking some old-school stereotypes about professional athletes, struck me as a nice, uplifting fact to latch onto as we remember Taylor this week. As well as being one of the most athletically gifted football players I’ve had the pleasure of watching, Sean Taylor was a fascinating, complex individual, and along with thousands of other football fans, I deeply regret that I will no longer have the opportunity to follow his career.
The vile American Kennel Club held its championship dog show at the Long Beach Convention Center on Saturday, and PETA members were out in force to let attendees know that “breeders kill shelter dogs’ chances.” As you might expect from the breeders, who congregate at these events like flies around a cesspool, their comments to our activists made it clearer than we ever could that they’re willing to blame the suffering of animals in shelters on just about everybody except themselves. Here’s a selection of comments these people made when they saw our signs:
“But this makes me happy!”“We take care of our own.”And, my personal favorite: “The only dogs they are putting to sleep in shelters are mixed breeds.”
As PETA Director Daphna Nachminovitch points out, “Not only does the AKC promote breeding as a 'sport,' it also opposes spay/neuter laws that would save hundreds of thousands of animals' lives in California alone. Countless animals across the country are being destroyed, and it's time that the AKC is held accountable for its role in the crisis." Here’s a picture from the event, and you can learn more about our campaign against breeders here.
And on a completely different topic, I’d like to take this opportunity to say goodbye to a regular commenter on this blog: Mars has been a frequent contributor to posts on the blog, and I had initially hoped that increased interaction with people who care about animals might encourage him to start thinking about animals as living beings who are capable of suffering, but it’s become increasingly clear that his posts have no other purpose than to antagonize good people who are trying to make the world a better place. Furthermore, his professed “hobby” of trapping animals is both sadistic and reprehensible. So, goodbye Mars, and good riddance. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.
Canadian Rocker Bryan Adams, a vegan and a friend of PETA who has donated his talent as a photographer to help us create our ads, took it upon himself this week to let John Bitove, the CEO of most KFCs in Canada, know exactly what he thinks about KFC suppliers' treatment of chickens. Adams said, "[Y]ou could set your company apart from KFC operators in the U.S. and elsewhere by eliminating the worst abuses on these birds, as … chickens killed for KFC in Canada are scalded to death in tanks of hot water, suffer broken wings and legs, and worse."
Thanks Bryan, for, um, "Everything You Do" (I'm going to be singing that song all week now).
And if you’d like to write to KFC’s execs yourself, you can find their contact information here.
Fatty (adj.)1. Consisting of, containing, or resembling fat: fatty tissue. 2. Pathology. Characterized by overproduction or excessive accumulation of fat.Are you really going to eat that fatty, diseased liver, you sick freak?
Alright, now that we’ve got the definitions out of the way, here’s the big news: Phat Farm clothing and Def Jam records founder Russell Simmons just approached the Chicago City Council on PETA’s behalf to urge them to oppose efforts (funded by what may well be the sickest, most unethical industry on the planet) to repeal the city’s ban on fatty duck liver, or foie gras. Here’s what Russell had to say to the Council:
“Cruelty is wrong, regardless of whether the victim is a child, a dog, or a bird. Let's come together to oppose all cruelty and injustice. I am asking that you support keeping this compassionate law in place—a law that Chicago can be truly proud of."
You can check out Russell’s letter below, and for a little taste of what goes on in the foie gras industry that’s currently pressuring Chicago to repeal its ban, check out this story about 15,000 ducks who burned to death this week at a Hudson Valley Foie Gras factory farm. When asked for comment, Hudson Valley owner Izzy Yanay expressed his deep regret about how much money this is going to cost him. Anyone else feel like these people should be out of business ASAP?
Thanks, Russell, for everything that you do.
PETA Europe did a little trick or treating yesterday at a Burberry store in Manchester to encourage the chain to stop with the fur already. Great demo guys.
Show me any animal, and I’ll show you someone who’s found a way to systematically torture and abuse them. For sharks, it’s the finning industry, which kills an estimated 100 million sharks a year, usually by simply hacking off the fins and tossing the animals back into the water to die. And sharks have an additional strike against them in the form of a widespread myth that they’re evil, man-eating monsters, which makes it exceptionally difficult to get anyone to pay attention to their plight. Which is why Sharkwater—a new documentary opening this Friday which debunks the negative myths about these amazing animals and exposes the cruel industry that’s threatening their existence—is such an important film.
Of course, that’s not the only reason I’m psyched about this movie. Anyone who’s watched as many shark-themed TV shows on the Discovery Channel as I have will know that these animals are, to use a technical term, totally effing rad. Here’s a little teaser for the film, and you can check Sharkwater’s site for showtimes.
News flash! New Zealand has just banned the live export of animals from the country. This announcement comes only a few months after New Zealand farmers announced that they were ending the archaic practice of mulesing, which is a procedure where large chunks of flesh are cut from sheep’s hind quarters with no painkillers to prevent flies from laying eggs in their wrinkly skin. Kudos to New Zealand for taking the lead on both of these issues and setting the wool industry animal welfare bar a little bit higher.
Now it’s time for the Australian wool industry to pull its head out of the sand and get with the program. If New Zealand can make these two important changes in its entire wool industry in a matter of months, certainly Australia can follow suit. You can help make that happen by clicking here.
If you’re new to the blog or to this issue, there is a great overview of both mulesing and live export here.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.