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Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

Elle Macpherson Admits Using Illegal Substance

Written by PETA | July 6, 2010
Jerzy Strzelecki / CC by 3.0
Black Rhino

Elle Macpherson has told the Times online that she uses rhino horn to try to stop the aging process. Quackery aside, this has huge consequences for animals—and it’s illegal. Here’s the letter that PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk sent Macpherson today:

What was Elle’s response to the outcry about her comment? Click here to find out.

July 6, 2010

Dear Ms. Macpherson,

We’ve read that you have confessed to a reporter for the Times online that you use an illegal substance: rhino horn. Considering that there is nothing beautiful about the slaughter of wildlife, will you please give up your use of rhino horn and tell the world why you did?

Like shark’s fin, which is hacked off the shark, who is then thrown back into the water to spin helplessly to the bottom of the sea, rhino horn is hacked off, too, and the rhino is left to die with a machete hole in the face. It is not a quick death, as photographs and video footage attest.

Rhinos are interesting animals, not that it would matter if they were boring as hell. It isn’t too long ago that human beings discovered what this species knew all along: that its members communicate by means of complex breathing noises. In my book The PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights, I recount how Anna Mertz, the founder of a rhino sanctuary in Kenya, came to realize that these animals live in a completely different sphere from ours. They are the Mr. Magoos of the animal kingdom, barely able to see a thing, which unfortunately makes it convenient to poach them, and their world is dominated by their senses of smell and hearing.

To communicate, rhinos use a highly complicated method of regulating their breathing, a sort of Morse code, to talk to one another. Mertz says that rhinos are absolutely terrified of humans because people chase them, separate them from their calves, and slaughter them for their horns, which are cut off for use as aphrodisiacs and in cosmetics.

Mertz raised and released an orphaned bull she named Makara who had never witnessed an attack by hunters and had never learned to fear people. Over time, he came to regard Mertz as a friend.

On one occasion, Mertz was out with a tracker when the two of them saw a rhino moving very slowly toward them, looking very odd. When he got close, they saw that it was Makara and that he was completely entangled in barbed wire. Barbed wire is terrifying to animals, and most panic when they encounter it, but Makara had recognized the sound of his friend’s Jeep engine and come for help. Although trembling all over, he gave the pair the greeting breathing. Mertz managed to get a handkerchief between Makara’s eye and the jagged wire that was cutting into it, then took off her jacket and worked it under the wire that was cutting into his thigh. Without wire cutters, the tracker used a cutlass and a flat stone to cut the wire while Mertz, talking gently to the bull, disentangled him. The whole affair took about 40 minutes, and the whole time Makara stood stock-still except for the tremors that shook his body.

When the last of the wire fell away, he breathed goodbye and moved slowly back into the bush. Mertz says she knew that they had witnessed an act of outstanding intelligence, trust, and courage. That this bull had come to them for help and had exercised such control over his state of panic, standing still and allowing himself to be freed of the frightening barbed wire, must have been very difficult and painful to him—even more so, given the fact that although Makara knew Mertz’s voice well, she had never before attempted to touch him.

I wrote in the book that perhaps if we could sit rhino hunters down and let them see that a rhino is not an inconsequential gray lump, not a trophy or a heap of body parts, but a living, thinking, feeling being—a son, a mother, a friend to others, a vulnerable individual—perhaps they would not blow these magnificent animals to kingdom come or cut off their horns via machete. Perhaps you might also sit down and look at the photos of the rhinos who are ground up for human vanity and complete quackery.

Jackie Chan, who works hard to combat the devastation to wildlife caused by Chinese medicine, from tiger penises to bear bile and claws, is appalled by this vile trade and has helped many groups, including PETA, work to combat such cruelty. He says, if you know anyone who is buying the stuff, “Ask them to think first. Do they really want to be responsible for the cruel killing of an individual animal and to contribute to the extinction of the species? Don’t they know that there are herbal alternatives to endangered animals in traditional Chinese medicine? And do they really need that endangered species product? There is no excuse.”

Elle, you are a role model in many ways, and I hope you will agree that wildlife should be left in peace. Will you please condemn the trade in rhino horn and other substances that are stolen from wild animals? I look forward to hearing back from you.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid E. Newkirk
President
PETA

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  • patricia kaye says:

    WHY HAS SHE NOT BEEN QUESTIONED!? she was on television last week with lorraine fawning all over how gorgeous she looked!! i always thought she had cold dead eyes!now i know why!!

  • Matthew Reynolds says:

    It’s called plastic surgery you disgusting freak. I swear what a selfish person. And then to admit to it publicly like that. The letter you wrote was great but do you think the recipient is smart enough to understand it?

  • Barbara says:

    I cannot believe how stupid this woman is? How could she not know where the rhino horn comes from? Did she think it fell off the animal? I’d like to think that models are more than vacant selfcentered idiots but she does very little to prove otherwise. And she’s only groveling because she got busted.

  • Susan says:

    Elle MacPherson must be seriously mentally ill or just a dummy because this is all a fake. Rhino horn does NOTHING except destroy rhinos. Elle gets plastic surgery. My sister knows her surgeon.

  • denise says:

    i can understand wanting to be beautiful but i cannot understand why women i know it’s a generalization forgive me so often refuse to age gracefully. let’s smear some animaltested chemicals all over ourselves to prevent the natural aging process. yeah that’s a great idea. take care of your skin your body your mind and accept the natural processes of life.

  • Cherry says:

    Thank you Ingrid for a touching for the rhino and to the point letter to ‘what’s her name’. Vain vain vain to the point of bringing suffering and death to animals. I wouldn’t walk across the street to see her I would be too afraid I would spit in her rhino horn face!!! I only use plant based and crueltyfree products on my face hair and body. To use anything else is condoning the horrific practice of torture and death of innocent creatures. Bah and boo to Elle…….hope her face falls off.

  • maureen says:

    Guess if the cosmetic industry said BIRD ST was good for puffy eyeshow many people would wear it!!!! but then again we would be reading a blog on tortured birds living in cramped CLEAN cages!!!! go figure. Guess anyone that becomes desperate for beauty will do anything for it.I hope Elle will not only stop using this productbut the friends she got to use it stop too. I remember when they thought sheep placenta was good for the face too. What will they come up with next? I don’t want to know Thanks Ingrid I hope Elle reads your letter and has a change of heart.

  • Jane Kenyon Bell says:

    I was honoured to stroke a baby rhino in a sanctury in Kenya and the thought of someone killing that wonderful creature makes me very sad and very angry. Elle I Hope you realize it CANNOT be beauty at any cost

  • M. Butterflies Katz says:

    I hold that no beauty could ever possibly come out of using other animals for our purposes whatever they are whether they are cosmetic medicinal food entertainment vivisection etc. There is nothing useful to be gained from causing misery to other sentient beings.

  • John Carmody says:

    You’ve just got to love Ingrid Newkirk! She is so unbelievably smart and I just love her ‘wit’ in letters but without dodging the seriousness of her message. Ingrid ARAN love you.

  • Martin Butler says:

    So many exotic remedies and cures are poorly researched and most people rely on hearsay and hype to influence their choosing a product. If people simply refuse to use beauty products derived from the murder of animals this type of horrific practice would abruptly come to an end. Embarrassment works wonders and I’m glad Ms. McPherson’s selfish indulgence has been exposed.

  • Cindy says:

    Rhino horns to stop aging? ludicrous. why can she just eat fresh fruit berries vegies and nuts which contain tons of antioxidants to reverse aging.

  • eve says:

    no I am sorry I will NOT forgive elle mcpherson for her ignorance and cruel selfishness and I will never look at her the same way. If she is on the cover of a magazine i will not buy that magazine or any product she ads for. It am disgusted to learn that a woman with wide resources as she has with her money and fame would support the horrific trade of horn illegal trade. there is no excuses and there will be no forgiveness. not from me !! Miss Newkirk you are too kind to Elle !!

  • Ritchie Laymon says:

    Elle McPherson is very lucky that no one has approached her and said “I’ve had to live with this ugly red bulbous nose my entire life. Since you’ve had that gorgeous sniffer all yours I think it’s only fair that you allow me to hack it off your face and stitch it onto mine. You’re rhinocerously okay with that right?”

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Beautifully written Ingrid! Without being preachy or judgemental the message is oh so eloquently expressed. Thanks to Mr. Jackie Chan as well.

  • Laurie Marshall says:

    Go Ingridgreat letter!

  • Noelle G says:

    I would like to believe that someone who appreciates beauty as much as Ms MacPherson does is capable of seeing it in others too such as in a living wild animaI. I hope she simply is ignorant and therefore capable of learning her way out of this ugly mistake.

  • Suzanne says:

    Thank you Ingrid!! God Bless you and God willing this will be a thing of the past. o

  • Naomi says:

    She should get in trouble if this is illegal good reason to be banned and forced to turn in whoever gave that powdered horn to her. I do wonder if she knew it was illegal or harmful to the rhino. I will not pass judgement until she explains herself. Elle if you’re reading please think about this and LEARN from it.

  • Jeanette Gagne says:

    This letter brought tears to my eyes. I can forgive Ms. Macpherson today if she understands the error that she is making and stops.

  • Carla* says:

    Love you Ingrid!!

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