Written by PETA
Here's a rare glimpse into what it's like for an undercover investigator. We would like to give a heartfelt thank you to the two brave individuals who went undercover at this pig factory farm in Iowa (and to undercover investigators everywhere). The investigators hope their experiences will motivate you to make a difference for animals each day in your own way. Here's what they had to say:
What exactly was your reaction when you saw just how badly the animals were really being treated? Did you cry?
Investigator 1: I was horrified and terribly saddened. But I had a good idea of what I was going to see, and I prepared myself for it. … Because it is so critical to conceal my identity and my sympathy for animals while undercover, I [can only] cry on the inside when I see the abuse and the cruelty. I can never let my coworkers see that side of me. Sometimes, I will let out a good cry at home or in my car after a particularly disturbing day.
Investigator 2: There were some nights I would get home and get emotional about the day's events. You have to hold it inside until you get home. If the other employees see you react in an emotional way, it would blow your cover. The people whom I have met working at a hog farm would never get emotional or upset due to the mistreatment of the animals, and so we must act in that same manner.
What toll does it take on you mentally and emotionally? How do you handle working in facilities that abuse animals?
Investigator 1: The job is challenging, both mentally and emotionally. It always helps me tremendously to look at the big picture and focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. Personal sacrifice is almost always necessary to achieve great change. But I take solace in those … moments that I spend, one-on-one, with the animals whom I meet on an assignment. Looking into the sad eyes of a suffering animal motivates me and energizes me to do more. And I realize that my mental and emotional anguish pales in comparison to the suffering and pain this animal is feeling right now. I get to go home after work every day, but the animals never leave.
Investigator 2: It can take a large toll on you. Seeing what happens firsthand day in and day out definitely affects you. There are times during a case when I have had nightmares about it. The only way to really get through it is to always keep in mind that this would all be happening if I was there or not. By being there, I have the opportunity to help stop abuse.
To read all of the questions and answers from the investigators, click here.
Do you think you'd be able to handle being an undercover investigator?
Written by Christine Doré
This year, in response to the gobbledygook that is offered on Butterball's Thanksgiving hotline (tips for stuffing a murdered bird? No, thank you!), you'll never guess who is greeting 1-888-VEG-FOOD callers and asking folks to pardon all turkeys from the horrible fate of being Thanksgiving dinner. A clue? He's "decided" to give the birds a break.
Each year, the president "pardons" two turkeys, who used to be sent to, ahem, Frying Pan Park in Fairfax County, Virginia. Well, instead of letting two overblown, overgrown birds get a few months to hobble around on painful legs, here's an idea: Go meat-free! Of all the tough decisions boggling the Executive-brain, this one should be the easiest to make. The weapons of mass defeathering are well-documented, and are known as shackles, scalding tanks, and blade machines. Check out the words of wisdom:
So, a word to those who would celebrate Thanksgiving with a dead centerpiece: Why not try one of these life-affirming, tasty recipes instead? Or how about a faux turkey? Or a vegan Wellington of mass deliciousness? Yep, healthy, vegetarian Thanksgiving fare abounds, and the turkeys needn't be the only ones doing the gobbling.
Written by Charlotte Gordon
A new report by the auto insurance–funded Highway Loss Data Institute finds that fatalities in collisions between vehicles and animals—mostly deer—have more than doubled in the last 15 years. Hunters are undoubtedly tripping all over themselves in the hope of using this to rationalize killing even more animals—but we believe that the blame for this crisis falls on their shoulders.
You see, hunting increases deer populations. Deer are masters of managing their own populations if left alone to judge how much food is available to sustain their herd size. Pregnant does have been known to reabsorb fetuses if a sharp winter deprives them of the nourishment to sustain a fawn. But, in hunted populations, does are more likely to have twins rather than single fawns (or none), and are more likely to reproduce at a younger age.
The state agencies that are responsible for wildlife "management" know this, of course—but they've allied themselves with hunters, who want there to be more living targets, not fewer!
So, instead of setting up chemo-sterilization programs or letting the deer figure things out naturally, "game" management agencies deliberately do things like destroying the deer's forest homes by clear-cutting in order to increase the amount of vegetation for the deer to eat, and planting browse in order to fool the deer into increasing their populations. These programs help to ensure that there are plenty of animals for these officials and their bloodthirsty buddies to kill as well as plenty of revenue from the sale of hunting licenses.
When hunting seasons make the deer's ever-shrinking territories into war zones, the deer find themselves constantly on the run—and in their panic they often jump right into roadways. A study of collisions between deer and vehicles in Pennsylvania found that the opening day and opening Saturday of deer-hunting season are "[t]wo of the most dangerous days to drive." And the deer have good reason to be fearful: A British study of deer hunting found that more than 10 percent of deer who are killed by hunters had to be shot multiple times before they died—and that some wounded deer suffered for more than 15 minutes before dying. We suspect the situation is far worse in the good ole U.S. of A.
There is a lot of work to be done to help protect deer and other wildlife. And drivers should slow down and watch the road carefully during hunting seasons. Be aware that most of the time when a car hits a deer, the driver slowed down for one deer, and then sped up and hit another. In other words, if you see one deer, slow down and watch for the rest of the deer family.
So, if you hear someone try to justify hunting with the ludicrous line that "it helps animals," call them out with the facts.
Written by Jeff Mackey
It's not often that we post an entry about octopi, but this story is definitely worth the mention.
When employees at the Sea Star Aquarium in Coburg, Germany, were puzzled by the constant short-circuiting of lights, they thought it was a result of technical difficulties. It turns out, however, that Otto the octopus was just trying to get the irritating light turned off. Maybe he'd read that study about how having lights on at night can interfere with your sleep.
It took three days and the detective work of several employees to learn of Otto's clever antics, which included climbing to the rim of his tank and squirting water at the lights above to turn them off. The cephalopod has also been caught redecorating his tank by tossing its contents around, throwing rocks at the tank glass, and juggling hermit crabs.
Otto's pranks may be amusing—especially when they're fooling humans—but they're also a sign that he is bored out of his mind and not receiving the stimulation that any intelligent being needs. They are a cry for attention. Signs of boredom and loneliness are the norm among animals who are imprisoned in tiny, barren spaces; and they can be dangerous too. When the electricity short-circuited, it shut down all the filters and water pumps, putting not only Otto in danger but the other marine life as well. And the hermit crabs most likely didn't enjoy being tossed around.
Octopi are highly intelligent animals with sharp short-term and long-term memory skills. Instead of buying new toys and keeping an eye on Otto, as the aquarium's director has suggested, we vote that he should be released into the ocean where he can live a natural and full life in his vast native environment. All the toys in the world aren't going to make any difference for an animal who is crammed into a tiny, unfamiliar living space that lacks the proper kind of stimulation.
Written by Jennifer Cierlitsky
Murder is frightening business, but it is even more chilling perhaps when the crime is allegedly committed by a child who is not even old enough to grasp the consequences of the deed. Vincent Romero and Timothy Romans of Arizona were reportedly killed by Romero's 8-year-old son using a rifle much like the one that Romero had used to teach his son to hunt other living beings.
In a time like this, the community should take action. No child should be encouraged to be callous by being taught to kill, nor should children be instructed in the use of firearms, which enable them to wound, maim, and destroy. We have written to Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona asking her to ban children under the age of 18 from hunting. It makes them insensitive, damages the ecosystem, and causes the clear danger of familiarizing a child with gun use.
Though some firearms advocates protest that it is fine for a well-instructed child to wield a deadly weapon for the purpose of killing birds and deer, for instance, that is not the case. All school shooters had previously hunted and used guns. The FBI has found through interviews that 36 percent of murderers had tortured or killed animals before killing humans, and 46 percent had done so in adolescence.
We are asking Gov. Napolitano and the community to avoid "sticking to their guns," and to take this tragedy as a wake-up call. We can keep adults and children safe and healthy by not teaching kids to take "taking a life" lightly. You can read our letter to the Gov. Napolitano here.
Written by Sean Conner
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:
"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.
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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.