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Adding Animal Cruelty to the List of Charges BP Should Face

Written by PETA | June 14, 2010

BP has more than the loss of human life, livelihoods and tourism to answer for. And so do the government inspectors who allowed this corporation—as seemingly greedy as the bankers, mining companies and marine park owners whose careless conduct has resulted in similar destruction—to put profit over safety.

If the criminal investigation of BP and those who signed off on the drill-site inspection sheets and safety assurances shows willful fraud and deception, dereliction of duty, bribes or who knows what else, there is one additional set of criminal charges that should be added to the list: cruelty to animals. For this is the largest case of cruelty to animals in U.S. history.

We are being spared, for political reasons, some think, but mercifully perhaps, most of the photographs of the animals who have died and are still dying, slowly, painfully, not just coated but drenched in oil. It is hard for anyone with a heart to see the gulls and pelicans, blinking up through a thick coat of muck that prevents them from flying, eating, taking a drink of water and escaping the burning heat of June. It is even too much to come across a snippet of video that shows a huge rubber-gloved hand gently plucking a tiny crab out of a puddle of black glop. Only the outline of his body tells you what he is, although his struggles tell you that he is still alive. For the moment.

For most of the animals, any help is too late. Studies show that even if wildlife rescuers capture an oiled bird in time, before much damage has been done, the terror of being handled by a predator, of being force-fed, doused and scrubbed, is too much for their pounding hearts to endure. Even if they survive the trauma of being cleaned and re-cleaned, it is suspected that most die after their release.

And in this case, one must ask, “Where can they be released?” Many birds mate for life; others are lost without their flocks. Their nesting grounds now lie under the oil slick; their friends and family are dead or dying. What is there for them to return to?

And what of the turtles, dolphins and—dare I write it—the whales? Cetacean experts do not expect whales to escape this slick completely. Once killed for their own oil, will they now be killed by ours?

And don’t laugh, but what of the fish? As inconvenient as it may be to think about it, given the seafood buffets of summer, studies show that fish feel pain and fear just as acutely as mammals do.

Whether or not BP is charged with cruelty, there are many things that we can and should do other than just pointing a finger. Some suggestions are to provide less support to oil companies by consuming less oil, by buying fewer oil-based plastic goods (the beaches of Hawaiian atolls are inches deep in discarded plastic) and by following the recommendations issued by the United Nations this month and going vegan in order to save the waterways, forests and ozone layer. Paul McCartney’s “Meat-Free Monday” project is getting institutions and individuals to look at the environmental devastation caused by energy-intensive factory farming and to do something about it by reducing meat consumption. In taking responsibility, President Obama would do well to announce that he, too, is embracing at least that one baby step.

Those responsible in the corporate world and in government can never truly make amends. How do you “make it up” to those who are suffering and dying in agony out there at this very moment or to those who have already lost their lives or loved ones? However, before looking away from the umpteenth heart-wrenching photo of an oil-coated pelican, the rest of us can do something positive and make some personal choices ourselves so that none of the oil companies will be able to claim consumer demand as a reason for misbehaving. It’s just a thought.

Written by Ingrid E. Newkirk

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  • Lisa says:

    I am so disgusted that there are no words to articulate just how disgusted I am. There is never any corporate accountability. Never. That is why things like this happenthere is no downside risk to actions taken by corporations only upside potential. I’m sorry but corporations as well as the individuals who work for them need to start being held responsible for their negligence. I’m talking serious punishment. Tony Hayward and other guys grabbing for the brass ring think making it to the top is a game. But you know what? It is a huge responsibility to lead a multi billion dollar company whose actions have critical repercussions. It’s not Chutes Ladders or Candyland Tony. I believe the idiots at BP need to be drowned in a drum of oil. But as a compromise can we at least make a corporate law that when disasters such as this happen the company be disassembled in an orderly manner with all remaining equity put toward the cause of cleaning up the company’s mess? And an investigation ordered that finds every person responsible for the damage and severely punished.


    bp needs to be held responsiblejust as the american government is an outright sin and very upsetting to see all of these creatures sufferingbaked in oil.cruelty to animals charges should be in line for all those responsible.dip them in oil!

  • Debbie says:

    This whole oil spill is a terrible tragedy and it seems nobody is stepping up to the plate and stopping it’s terrible devastation. People in the area are committing suicide cause they can no longer take care of themselves or their families. BP and only BP should be pouring in billions if not trillions of dollars to help these people and poor defenseless animals. The rich greedy executives on the top should be made to pay out of their own damn pockets!!!!

  • Jim says:

    BP SHOULD have to pay damages to all the cruelty to animals they have inflicted upon the coastline. It’s funny how the environment and animals are always the last to be spoken of yet THE IMAGES on the tv show just how devastating this has had on animals along the coast. C’mon govt step up and do the right thing!

  • Rita A. Banda says:

    I feel that bp should be ashamed of themselves. I want to know why bp is not letting thousands of volunteers in to save the pelicans? I heard that the poor things are in cages waiting to get clean I am so sick of bp. They all need to be dipped in the oil and put into cages! We need to sign a petition to get bp arrested. Cruelty to all mammals. I also heard that turtles are being BURNED ALIVE! W.T.F? God Help those poor mammals. I am so depress. Obama need to stand with PETA! You have my back 100

  • Ben Hill says:


  • Theresa says:

    View Captain Mike Ellis working for BP and the Coast Guard on youtube They are trying to shut it down so share it around the world!.

  • Luke Thomas says:

    Look at this FoxNews article. BP has been BURNING TURTLES AND BIRDS ALIVE!!! I feel far too many MOST people are not happy unless they torture and kill some helpless animal because it gets their rocks off. BP BURNING ANIMALS ALIVE! READ IT! httpwww.foxnews.comscitech20100623bpburningseaturtlesalivesaysgulfcaptaincontent

  • Ramachandran says:

    The snap of pelicans drenched in oil because of the oil spill is really disturbing.We long to see these beautiful birds in their own natural colours.Instead untold misery has been heaped upon these gentle creations of mother nature. This man made tragedy should open the eyes of all nature lovers and see that this is not repeated

  • Alexis says:

    Thank you Ingrid for your relentless and compassionate work. It has been a heartbreaker seeing the brown pelicans dead or dyingstruggling to breathe and flap their wings. All animals have been affectedfish birds dolphins whales and us. Enough is enough. Support green energysupport green chemicalsso we don’t have to test on animals and hurt the environmentand support PETA with action alerts and donations. Sarah Palindrill baby drill? Ugh. Don’t understand so called religious people and their killing earths god’s creatures. Don’t think St. Francis of Assisi would like her very much. Please help the animals and PETA. BP cruelty to animalsI very much agree! Sadso many underwater drills all over the earthshallow and deepplease help our fellow earthlings.

  • E thomas says:

    I find this whole situation infuriating. The American government is just as culpable as BP in their failure to stop the spread of this oil. Seeing those beautiful creatures covered in oil knowing they’re suffering breaks my heart.

  • Akemineo says:

    I think it’s absolutely irresponsible and pathetic that a multibillion dollar company like BPamong many I’m sure in all types of industrycan’t clean up their own catastrophic oil spill. Money spent on environmental emergency protocols ZERO. Shame on ANY corporation that accepts no responsibility for its actions not to mention various world governments. Sadly I can also say that about 90 of this planet’s population. c What kind of environment will our children or grandchildren enjoy in 50 years time? It’s a distressing thought. But our ignorance inaction and neglect won’t go unpunished. Mother Nature’s gearing up for a major spanking. D And it’s gonna be a doozy.

  • Kathy Buzby says:

    I agree with charging BP but what about the President. He acts like he doesn’t know what to do. I heard that the Dutch have experience in cleaning up oil disasters but the President turned them away. How stupid is he? I never cared for him from the beginning and now this proves that he can’t run the USA if he can’t even take charge in getting the oil cleaned up. PETA should come down hard on all of them instead of posting about the vegetarian people. I know that Obama is your President but come on WAKE UP and take charge for your organization. Your group is all over the news for less problems than this but I haven’t heard one report on the news about the oil spill and helping the fish mammals birds etc.. That can wait. It’s not an emergency to know who doesn’t eat meat.

  • nath says:

    The oil spill is nothing short of a major disaster for the marine life. Marine life is already under severe pressure by overfishingharpooning and use if huge nets. Whaes are being hunted to extinction just bya few nations who cannot control their demand fro leading ot the extinction of a species which has been around for centuries. That is the way those countries use technologyself satisfaction economic gains and no care for consequences.Similarly some comapnies also have done the same thing by this pollution of the sea. The penalties should be severe and people respnsible brought to book and made to rectify the damage to the extent possible.

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    President Obama just paid his fourth visit to the Gulf and stated his usual platitutes including declaring the seafood safe to eat stating he had just had some for lunch and it was delicious. I think I will go to the Safe Tables Our Priority site research the information on the levels of mercury in seafood and information on contaminated seafood and just how long it takes symptoms of food poisioning to develop. I will then email the information to Mr. Obama along with the warning that whether or not the animals of the sea are contaminated with oil it is never safe to eat them let alone kind.

  • ken woodall says:

    Everyone should lobby to require offshore oil platforms to be surrounded by “booms” large enough around to give time to start cleanup if another spill happens.

  • a.k. says:

    As a passionate environmentalist since high school I always knew we could and should go a lot farther in our protection and effects to get off an oil based economy but I never ever thought we’d be looking at the potential total destruction of so much delicate vital habitat in my lifetime in ONE disaster. The pictures are breaking my heart and knowing how much B.P. hasn’t allowed reporters to have access to it breaks further still at the knowledge that undoubtedly there’s worse we haven’t seen. And even that’s just what washes up on shore. My understanding is that most sea life that dies at sea never does. If whats washing up is this bad what worse is under the water?…and how can it EVER recover. It’s a crime against nature in its most perverse form.

  • disgusted says:

    It just gets worse and worse for marine animals. The belated dispersant toxicity study will apparently involve caging animals in the toxic plume. It has been planned to use dispersants in a disaster like this since 1996. httpntl.bts.govlib600063006311usaf.pdf And now is when they begin tox testing this on marine animals? They need a nontoxic collection or bioremediation method of dealing with ‘spills.’ If that cannot be setup in advance then the deep water drilling should not take place. What is taking place now is insane and cruel to animals and people involved in cleanup efforts.

  • Toby says:

    I don’t find fish suffering funny in the slightest. I wouldn’t ‘paint with such a broad stroke’ when comparing fish with mammals some fish are more conscious than some mammals but my hunch is that more mammals are more conscious than fish on average. I have a couple of ‘A’s ‘under my belt’ on upperlevel biology courses from an accredited university but anyway… maybe fish are as conscious as mammals there are lots of rodents afterall. I believe all consciousness deserves respect for the record here. I hope the cruelty to animals charge gets on BPs list.

  • Aneliese says:

    Excellent post! I couldn’t agree more.

  • petabgirl says:

    greedy bastards. Anyone hear Aziz Ansari’s “Avatar” rap at the MTV Movie Awards? I love the last part where he says “and the morale of the story is that it’s a bummer when nature gets destroyed because of greed. As a matter of fact that reminds me F YOU BP!”