Written by PETA
Picture this: It's 1773 and the young poet Anna Barbauld is working as an assistant in the laboratory of vivisector Joseph Priestley. In order to study breathing, Priestley tormented live mice, and he did it without giving them any anesthetic (as vivisectors today still do in many cases).
One night, Priestley left his next victim—a mouse who would be put into a "breathing tank" (read: "suffocation tank") that would be pumped empty of oxygen—in a cage on his desk. Anna was so moved by the sight of this doomed animal that she penned a poem from the mouse's point of view, folded up the paper, and stuck it between the bars of the cage for Priestley to find in the morning. No one knows if it moved him at all.
For here forlorn and sad I sit,Within the wiry grate;And tremble at th' approaching morn,Which brings impending fate.
The well taught philosophic mindTo all compassion gives;Cast's round the world an equal eye,And feels for all that lives.
The mouse's plea for life and liberty is so touching that actor Anne Bobby actually broke down while reading the poem on the air for NPR. Luckily for the rhyming couplet–challenged, you don't have to be Shakespeare to make a powerful case for animal rights. You can do it in a letter to the editor, a letter to your legislators, or even in 140 characters or less.
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
This just in: First daughter Malia Obama regularly reminds her dad about the plight of tigers, a species on the verge of extinction yet still exploited for human entertainment. It happens so frequently that first lady Michelle Obama told a group of kids visiting the White House that the family talks about tigers at least once a week and said, "I think, the Obama household, we're trying to save the tigers."
Let's hope that the Obamas make a stand for tigers right here at home by speaking out against the use of these magnificent animals in circuses. The first family would be appalled to know that their favorite animal is being whipped, crammed into cages in which they can barely move, and forced to jump through hoops and hop on their hind legs under the constant threat of punishment. Word to Malia: "Ringling hurts tigers!"
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
This post originally appeared in the Sacramento Bee.
This month, HBO is premiering an original biopic starring Claire Danes about an extraordinary person, Dr. Temple Grandin. As a young woman, Grandin struggled with the isolating challenges of autism at a time when this disorder was almost a total mystery. Today she is one of the best-known advocates for autism education.
But I applaud Dr. Grandin for another reason, one that has angered some people who work in animal protection: I admire her work in the field of humane animal slaughter. PETA would prefer, of course, that no animals be killed for food, but we won't ignore the horrors of factory farms and slaughterhouses just because we wish that they didn't exist.
Throughout her career as an animal-science professor at Colorado State University and a consultant to the American Meat Institute, Grandin has worked to improve animal-handling systems at slaughterhouses—markedly decreasing, although never able to stop completely, the amount of fear and pain that animals experience.
In 2006, she described to National Public Radio her experience watching cattle get vaccinated at feedlots during the 1970s. Some of the animals would just walk into the holding chutes, she said, while others refused. So Grandin did what no one else had bothered to do before: She went into the chutes herself. As she wrote in an essay for my book One Can Make a Difference, "(I)t seemed obvious to me to get down into the chute and see what the cattle were seeing." She realized that visual details such as shadows, a reflection off a truck's bumper, or people standing up ahead were causing the animals to be fearful.
These insights led her to design cattle-restraining systems that are now used by half the meat plants in North America. "(P)eople just wanted to get out there and yell and scream and push and shove," Grandin told NPR, rather than "remove the things that the cattle were afraid of."
This may seem like a small victory—the cows are still going to be killed, after all—but until the day that we get animals off the dinner plate altogether, is it too much to ask that we do everything we can to reduce the fear and suffering that they experience in the slaughterhouse?
PETA's campaigns against the cruel practices of fast-food chains and against the use of intensive confinement systems that do not even allow animals enough room to stand up, turn around, or extend their limbs have improved the living and dying conditions for millions of animals. As the industries change and evolve, these improvements will apply to billions of animals every year.
The vast majority of people, if they care about animals—and consumer surveys show that they do—support such incremental changes, even if the increments are far from wholly satisfactory to the animals who would rather not be caged at all or hung upside down and killed. In November 2008, for example, California voters made history by approving a ballot measure to ban the use of veal crates, gestation crates, and battery cages on factory farms. Last year, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed a landmark bill that will phase out these same cruel devices in her state as well.
I completely understand the appeal of battle cries such as "Not bigger cages—empty cages!" and I encourage every kind soul who shares this sentiment to make a difference by going vegan. But, as Dr. Grandin has shown us, giving a little comfort and relief to animals who will be in those cages their whole lives is worth fighting for, even as some of us are demanding that those cages be emptied.
Written by Ingrid E. Newkirk
If you were paying attention to the news yesterday, you may have seen quite a few stories about PETA—apparently, we were quite busy!
The biggest story came from NPR, which reported on our efforts to save animals from the humiliation of having losing sports teams named after them. Our joint effort with the Humane Society, "Stop Teams Everywhere From Animal Mascots (STEAM)," has reportedly supported legislation in Michigan, Maryland, and Tennessee.
Meanwhile, Tor.com discussed our indecision regarding the Furry community (Animal-friendly? Unfriendly? Too-friendly?), and Aero-News.net announced our intention to seek $250,000 in damages (as well as an apology) for the geese killed in the "Miracle on the Hudson."
Our friends at ecorazzi highlighted Al Gore's new and non-environmentally-hypocritical line of organic vegan frozen foods—first up, "Al Gore's Vegan Nubs." And Groovy Vegetarian lamented the sad news that our president, Ingrid E. Newkirk, was caught chowing down on a Burger King Whopper.
Now, come on, people, you didn't really believe any of these stories, did you? I mean, everybody knows that we'd ask for way more than $250,000 … I kid, I kid. So, yes—we found ourselves the subject of a number of April Fool's jokes. And don't worry, we had our share of the fun too. C'mon—squirrel underpants? Pheromone-fueled hunter-targeting snake attacks? A Photoshop job this bad on a PETA ad?
I hope you all knew better than to fall for that one!
Written by Amanda Schinke
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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.