Written by PETA
When President-elect Barack Obama was born, numerous U.S. states would have prohibited his black Kenyan father from marrying his white Kansan mother. The Voting Rights Act was still a few years away, and the Supreme Court's order to desegregate schools was being fought tooth and nail. Look at how far we have come. Who alive then would have believed that just a few short decades later, Americans would elect their first black president?
We have broken through a significant barrier, but we cannot stop there. We must now break down the barrier that prevents us from caring about all the "others" who are "not like us," regardless of race, regardless of gender, and regardless of species.
Prejudice and oppression come about because of a belief that "we" are important and that "they" are not.
In the days of slavery, for example—not so long ago—some people honestly believed that African men did not feel pain as white men do, that African women did not experience maternal love as white women do. And so it was quite acceptable to brand men's faces with a hot iron and to auction off slaves' children and send them vast distances away from their mothers. All evidence was to the contrary, yet highly educated people defied their own eyes, ears, and common sense by denying the facts before them. Society accepted this horrible exploitation, and then, as now, it takes courage to break away from the norm, even when the norm is ugly and wrong.
Today, we have abolished human slavery, at least in theory. But we continue to enslave all the others who happen not to be exactly like us but who, if we are honest with ourselves, show us that they experience maternal love as we do, that if you burn them, they feel the same pain as we do, that they desire freedom from shackles as we do.
In their natural homes, elephants live in complex multigenerational social groups, mourn their dead, and remember friends and relatives from years past. Yet we tear them away from their families, confine them with chains to stinking and squalid boxcars, and beat them into performing ridiculous tricks for our amusement.
Rats are detested, yet even these tiny animals—who are mammals like us—have been found to giggle (in frequencies that can't be heard by the human ear) when they are tickled and will risk their own lives to save other rats, especially when the rats in peril are babies. Although no mouse or rat bankrupted our economy, invaded Iraq, or set poison out for us, we dismiss their feelings as inconsequential and somehow beneath our consideration.
Mother pigs sing to their young while nursing, and newborn piglets run joyfully toward their mothers' voices. On factory farms, a sow spends her entire life surrounded by the cold metal bars of a space so small that she can never turn around or take even two steps. Chickens who are raised for the table fare even worse. Their beaks are seared off with hot blades, and the birds will never enjoy the warmth of a nest or the affectionate nuzzle of a mate.
The time has come to stop thinking of animal rights as distracting or less deserving of our energy than other struggles for social justice. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." All oppression, prejudice, violence, and cruelty are wrong and must be rejected no matter how novel the idea or how inconvenient the task.
And for those who think that we will never be able to achieve the dream of liberation from oppression, not just for human beings but for all beings, regardless of race or gender or species, I have just three words for you: Yes. We. Can.
Written by Ingrid E. Newkirk
Jada Pinkett-Smith, who currently stars in the number one film in the country, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, and is married to megastar Will Smith, recently made a compassionate pledge. The longtime animal defender recently told reporters that she just can't go on keeping her beloved animal friends in tiny cage prisons. Apparently, the rock-star frontwoman of Wicked Wisdom was moved to action by the family snake, Beauty.
"I think I'll never get an animal like a snake again where I have to keep her in an aquarium," Jada said, according to Contactmusic (via OneIndia). "We have this whole thing for Beauty outside for her to be in a natural habitat. But at the end of the day, she knows she's caged into her aquarium. We can't set her into the wild now, but I told [our daughter] Willow we won't do this again and won't have any animals that need to stay like that."
Good for you, Jada! Then she added this bit, which makes our campaigning hearts flutter: "Maybe when I get older, that'll become one of my activist endeavors."
Of course, we couldn't be more delighted to hear this! Jada and Will are one of Hollywood's hottest power couples, with considerable influence—and if Jada turns over a new leaf, that should have serious repercussions with her fans.
Written by Missy Lane
Update: Here's a sweet quote from PETA campaigner Lindsay Rajt in the Amarillo Globe News: "We just thought Tex would be a huge help to us to expose the whores in the leather industry." Apparently Lindsay needs to work on her enunciation a bit. She swears she said, "horrors"!
I'm not going to repeat the cliché that "everything's bigger in Texas"—though I guess I just did—because, as a Texan, I know that some things are actually smaller in Texas. In the computer age alone, it was Texas-based companies that pioneered "small" technologies such as semiconductors and the portable PC.
Still, there's no denying that Texans have a thing about big stuff. Heck, some folks here haven't come to terms with the fact that a larger state (Alaska, natch) was admitted to the union—nearly 50 years ago. So think about how Lone Star residents would feel about a super-sized version of that most Texan of icons: the cowboy.
Now one such giant buckaroo might find himself homeless. "Tex Randall," a 47-foot-tall, 7-ton cowboy sculpture in Canyon, Texas, faced eviction when the owner of the property he stands on decided not to keep him there. Another business owner purchased Tex, but doesn't have enough money to move him.
So, despite our opposition to ranching, PETA is stepping in to see if we can find a permanent home. Why? 'Cause what could be a better symbol than a big ol' cowboy to help us make a huge statement about how cows are hurt by the leather "bidness"? All we have to do is add a little sign, like so:
Written by Jeff Mackey
"We have two criteria that have to be reconciled," President-elect Obama said of a "major issue" at his first press conference earlier today. And no, he wasn't talking about the economy or the U.S.' endeavors overseas—he was talking about the much-discussed dog that will soon join the Obama family!
Here's the deal: Malia Obama has allergies and while the President-elect Obama has stated that their "preference is to get a shelter dog," the Obamas aren't sure if they'll find that "hypo-allergenic" dog in a shelter; as President-elect Obama said today, "[a] lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me."
It's great to hear the President-elect speak so highly of mutts! But we understand that the Obamas' concern for Malia might lead them to seek out a specific breed known for possible "hypo-allergenic" qualities.
Fortunately, there's no reason why the Obamas—or anyone, for that matter—can't get the best of both worlds. There are many purebred dogs out there in animal shelters across the country—many of whom even have their own rescue groups! There are also many online resources such as PetFinder that allow the user to search for homeless animals by specific criteria, like location, breed, and even age.
Purebred dogs fall victim to the dog and cat overpopulation crisis just as mutts do, so there's no reason to make the situation worse by buying a puppy from a breeder. Purebred dogs can be found in animal shelters almost everywhere—you just have to know how to look!
PS Mutts are awesome!
Written by Amanda Schinke
It's a good day for mice and rats in the Republic of China (aka Taiwan)! Thanks to a whistleblower, PETA's Laboratory Investigations Department got a tip that led us into high-level talks with National Yang-Ming University's president about her school's cruel pharmacology experiments. And what do you know—the university has decided to end not one but two of these outdated tests in less than nine days and instead use humane non-animal alternatives!
Part of the first experiment called for students to pump the chemical strychnine into the stomachs of approximately 150 mice through surgically-attached stomach tubes. That's right, strychnine—and then the students were required to observe and record the animals' convulsions. The second experiment required the students to inject pentylenetetrazol, a convulsion-causing chemical, into approximately 135 mice. The students then had to inject acetic acid into the animals, which caused their bodies to contort painfully.
Now, both experiments have been canceled—and nearly 300 mice will be spared these terrible procedures every semester. The university will still conduct experiments on animals—including one cruel blood-pressure manipulation experiment in which students slice open animals' windpipes and blood vessels—but the university has also agreed to dramatically reduce the number of rats who are used in that experiment—to just one.
These victories come after PETA successfully convinced National Taiwan University College of Medicine to end similar experiments on animals earlier this year.
This is a great start for National Yang-Ming University and National Taiwan University College of Medicine, where school officials are beginning to realize that animal experimentation is not just unnecessary—it's inaccurate and completely inhumane.
Earlier this year, I was driving along the crowded streets of Hyderabad in India, near one of the Mahatma Gandhi shrines, when I saw something I'd never seen before that almost flipped my lid. I was there to launch the Indian version of PETA's kids' book, 50 Awesome Things Kids Can Do to Save Animals, and I knew instantly that kids had to get involved in the atrocity that was unfolding right before my eyes.
It was a few days into the annual kite-flying contest, which Hyderabad is known for, and kitemakers were squatting at every curb, spinning colored kite string. However, the string was being coated in spun glass, much as you would coat a stick with cotton candy. This makes the string razor-sharp and able to rip through an opponent's kite in a millisecond.
Errant kites, set free to entangle in phone poles and trees, rip birds to shreds. So I set off with Jayasimha, one of the great movers and shakers in PETA India, to a bird sanctuary where we watched the volunteers gearing up for the coming horror: a grueling three-day festival in which hundreds of vultures, parrots, crows, and other birds were going to be wounded, many of them fatally.
PETA India started a petition asking kids never to buy glass-coated string, called "Manja." And here is the first demonstration against it in Hyderabad:
After learning from PETA just how hideous life can be for great apes who are kept captive and forced to perform in advertisements, thanks go to Ad Council president and CEO Peggy Conlon for signing our "Great Ape Humane Pledge," committing never to use great apes in ads! This means the Ad Council won't ever support the abuse of great apes in advertising.
To express our gratitude in PETA style, we sent Conlon a box of vegan chocolate chimpanzees and a big "thank you" for joining the host of companies that have stood up for great apes. The Ad Council joins the likes of Subaru, Honda, Yahoo!, PUMA, Movietickets.com, and SEGA, which also recently made this fantastic pledge.
Oh, and PETA will be following up with the CEOs of all the top U.S. ad agencies that sit on the Ad Council's executive board, requesting that they follow suit, so … expect more on this campaign in the near future! Of course, if you work in the ad world, you can save us the trouble of tracking you down by signing PETA's "Great Ape Humane Pledge" today! Yes, chocolate monkeys would follow shortly!
Written by Sean Conner
Are you as excited as we are about this?! Following up a string of victories for animals this week, a new TV series is coming to keep the party goin'! Whale Wars is the newest reality show from Animal Planet, and it features none other than our favorite sibling on the high seas, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Do you know about these good folks who so deserve to have their own show? For 30 years they've successfully fought for the rights of sea animals the world over, using nonviolent methods of direct action. And starting this Friday at 9 p.m. E/P, we all get to join in on the adventure!
The Sea Shepherd site describes the show this way: "During Sea Shepherd's Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign: Operation Migaloo in 2007/08, Animal Planet had a camera crew on board a campaign that saved the lives of nearly 500 whales, leaving the Japanese fleet with less than half of their quota and costing them tens of millions of dollars." I literally "whooped" out loud the first time I read that.
Impressively, this was actually the third time the crew met its own quota of saving hundreds of whales. Mind you, this incredible work is being done in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. You read that right. Animals who should be protected are being slaughtered under the guise of "research." Since it seems that no government is willing to enforce the law, the crew members risk their lives by taking this responsibility upon themselves.
This show is both timely, in light of the great strides that have recently been made for animals, and heart warming, as it gives credit to unsung heroes. But just think of how many people the show will make aware of the plight of whales! I'm so looking forward to staying in on Friday nights!
You can read an exciting piece by Sea Shepherd warrior Pete Hammarstedt in Ingrid's new book One Can Make a Difference.
The following is a guest post from PETA Europe's Fish & Chimps blogger Alexia Weeks:
Avid Fish & Chimps fans were probably wondering why PETA didn't jump in with teeth bared after Kate Winslet posed naked on what looks like a real fur throw in the latest issue of Vanity Fair. But behind the scenes, we were busy at work contacting Kate—the beauty we've never, ever seen wearing animal fur.
So we sent a note to Kate pointing out how shocked we were to see photos of her posing with fur. And we were right to be shocked! We had a very prompt response from Kate's rep and we have been assured that Kate never wears fur (as we suspected!). She was actually told at the photo shoot that the very real fur was fake. And that's not the first time that this sort of thing has happened! PETA US has heard from countless celebs that sneaky stylists at photo shoots can be rather coy when it comes to fur and whether it's real or not. So it seems Kate was duped—and with so many convincing fakes out there nowadays, it is easy to mistake the dead animals for the fake ones.
So, who thinks Kate should get naked with a faux-fur throw for PETA?
When the Obamas first announced that they would be bringing a dog into their family at the end of the election, we all hoped that they would choose to adopt a rescue dog—and whaddaya know, our hopes were realized when Michelle Obama confirmed that the family would go the mutt-friendly route. And hey, what's a better example for the rest of the nation than to have a rescue as the "first dog"?
Hmm … what about having another rescue as the "second dog"? See, Senator Biden's wife promised him that they could welcome a "big dog" into their family if he were elected. She even taped pictures of dogs to the seats in his campaign plane to inspire him! This means that now that Senator Biden is officially the vice president-elect, he and Jill will start looking for the right dog to join their family. May we, again, suggest a rescue dog? There are some pretty big mutts out there, senator!
That's what PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk has written in a letter to the Bidens—that the vice president-elect would be doing a great thing for animals by bringing another rescue dog to Washington. A home for a needy dog and another example for all Americans to follow? Sounds great to us. Click here to read Ingrid’s full letter.
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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.