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King of Pop’s First Hit Could Help Rats

Written by PETA | June 30, 2009
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Michael Jackson

Since Michael Jackson’s passing on Thursday, there have been hundreds of news stories ranging from how he influenced just about every musician performing today to how he’s responsible for the Academy’s recent decision to allow 10 nominations for “Best Picture” (no, really!). It got us thinking: What if Michael’s music could be used to help animals?

We’ve written to Michael Jackson’s estate asking for the rights to the singer’s first solo hit, “Ben,” which was written for the 1972 film of the same name. This beautiful song is about the friendship between a lonely boy and a rat named Ben, and we’re hoping to use it to raise awareness about the plight of rats and other animals tormented in laboratory experiments.

Mice and rats make up the vast majority of animals used in experiments, but because they are excluded from the federal Animal Welfare Act, they are denied even minimal legal protection. Part of the message of “Ben” is that rats are frequently misunderstood. (For example—did you know that rats and mice are fastidiously clean, intelligent, and highly sociable animals—they even giggle!) In the song, Jackson sings:

Ben, most people would turn you away
I don’t listen to a word they say
They don’t see you as I do
I wish they would try to.

We hope we’ll be able to use this song to inspire people to understand rats a little better and to join our campaign to stop cruel and archaic animal experiments on them.

Written by Amanda Schinke

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  • janice says:

    Amy post july 1 thank you and others for your positive comments about Michael. I am curious to know your source about he wanted to have a breeding program for endangered species? that is wonderful news. Rat lover animal lover myself I would also like to know if he did like rats if somebody knows for sure. They do make incredible pets. Thank you PETA for all your work. To the Lord I hope you all don’t mind this here thanks for sharing Michael with us for awhile. He will be living on and on and on in his songs and no doubt influence us in many ways. If ratties benefit that’ll be great!!!

  • Darien Midwinter says:

    Wollongong University academic Dr. Denise Russell has been active in the exploration and promotion of acceptable scientific alternatives to the use of animals in experiments. Check out this website for more information http://www.uow.edu.auartsresearchratt

  • CZ-97 says:

    It’ll be a ……THRILLER… for you guys?

  • amy says:

    Michael was VERY compassionate about animals! He loved them and it’s hard to know what stories about him are legit. But it IS true that he bought Bubbles and other animals from a cancer research facility and he was even going to plan a breeding program for endangered animals as well. And I think what he did for these animals was so much better than what would have happened to them had he not paid hundreds of thousands out of his own pocket in saving them feeding them housing them etc. Look for the positive in people other than judging them based on an illusion the media creatd. How many of you ever went to Neverland and witnessed any abuse or cruelty? Where is the footage? The proof? I’ll believe it when i see it. Till then God Bless you Michael

  • Joanne Anand says:

    This story is very coincidental to me! For the last two weeks I have become very very interested in owning a couple of pet rats. I have even had a few dreams where whatever is happening the pet rat or rats are there. I have always wanted one as I understand just how intelligent and gorgeous they are. I even spent the day yesterday reading all about how to best care for them. last night there was a Michael Jackson special on and I was explaining to my husband the meaning of ‘Ben.’ It is so true we have been conditioned into thinking of rats as dirty disease ridden and blood thirsty creatures when in reality they are so far from it. We need to work to protect them and not forget about them just because they are small. They are used in experiments to help us because even though humans don’t like to acknowledge it there are similarities in them not only similar to dogs cats and other animals but even us. Ben is a beautiful song and it teaches us the conpanionship loyalty and love that yes even mice and rats can bring to us. Please don’t overlook these lovely creatures!

  • Jose says:

    R.I.P. MJ I wish they let PETA use it for rats

  • Leo says:

    I had a few rescue rats as a college student and came to appreciate how intelligent and sensitive they were. I feel utterly heartbroken over the way they are perceived and treated. But I agree that “Ben” may not be the best song to represent rats as a whole since if you know the story the connotations are not too positive.

  • ayuni says:

    may michael jakson rest in peace and leave all your good deed to them

  • megan says:

    i know mical had alot of animals but it was also recently said that he was a vegitarian. i think he was just misinformed about the way he was doing things. when you are that rich you are suronded by yes men. i bet no one even bothered to point out to him that waht he was doping to thouse animals was wrong. i am sure he was a nice person.

  • Brien Comerford says:

    Great Animal Rights Songs ! The PretendersHold A Candle To This. Paul McCartneyLooking For Changes. BostonCorporate America. Morrissey Meat Is Murder Howard Jones Assault and Battery. Howard Jones Don’t Be Part Of It. Linda McCartney Cow

  • Peta Jones says:

    I have 13 rescue rats who have been through different abuse and neglect situations before coming to me and they are now the most loving and spoilt little critters! They are definitely the most misunderstood animal that don’t deserve to be treated as vermin and disposable. Anything that can help them is a positive…

  • PeaceFrog says:

    RE “This is great but Michael Jackson was not that compassionate towards animals. Remember he kept monkeys as pets and imprisoned big cats in his Neverland ranch.” . . . . He was most definately compassionate toward animals! He had a chimp that he rescued from a cancer research center!!!! He may have had big cats as well but they were hardly ‘imprisoned’.

  • Maverick says:

    I have 10 rats and will soon be getting 3 foster rats and adopting a handicap rat that was due to be fed to a snake but was rescued last minute. Rats are by far the best pets I have ever owned and hope that they allow you to use MJ’s song. He really was an amazing singer.

  • Lenora Fericano says:

    My daughter being a city apartment dweller always had rats as pets. They are the sweetest most intelligent compassionate animals other than my cats of course I ever knew!

  • Laurie Herndon says:

    What a wonderful way to help these wonderfully loveable little animals. I hope someone takes the task seriously and contacts his people about this project! I for one am a ratty mom of 3 and do everything I can to educate people to how wonderful these little creatures are. They are ALL part of my family and if I know anything about MJ it’s that he would want to help animals in some way! Lets do it for all the “bens” out there in the world who are terribly misunderstood just like Michael was!

  • ccbloom says:

    yay peta. i support you 100 in all that you do and in all that you think. i love you forever! rip michael jackson.

  • Kathy says:

    Rats are amazing I have them for pets….BUT….as others have said he was not that smart or caring of animals otherwise he would have not kept all of them at that crazy ranch. But thanks PETA anything to help get rats mice and ALL animals out of the labs I am there

  • joan ciccarone says:

    My alltime favorite of Michael’s songs. The movie was good too. Nobody should be using animals in labs. I hope this works out for PETA.

  • Debbi Berenz says:

    PETA come on…I believe the ASPCA had to come into Neverland Ranch to remove all the animals…Michael left the country and did NOT continue to pay the care takers of the animals nor did he continue to buy food for them either…

  • grace forse says:

    i think this is great i have owned rats for years and just as the song says they are amazing animals and should not be underestimated as a pet friend. i also totally dissagree with the use of them for testing and any other animal i hope this campaign goes well D

  • vaish says:

    Its wonderful idea to use Michael Jackon’s song to help rats.I am where ever MJ is he will deftly feel very very happy.

  • Kali says:

    I have pet rats and I can tell you that they are highly intelligent creatures and VERY clean. They are much misrepresented by always being portrayed in movies as living in sewers etc. If you are not able to have a dog as a pet I highly recommend a rat. They don’t bite and make loving friendships.

  • michelle says:

    i think micheal jackson will be happy hearing that in heaven r.i.p

  • Rebecca Eves says:

    This is a brilliant idea but it may be a bit too soon

  • Rex's Mom says:

    I agree with NT that Michael Jackson was not animal friendly. He kept a large amount of animals on his Neverland ranch like elephants giraffes tigers and others. I wonder what ever happened to these animals when he lost the ranch. Also if he was such an animal lover and animal saver PETA would have mentioned his death and given him an online tribute like they gave to Bea Arthur who died recently. Also the sequel to the movie Ben was called Willard the boy who owned the rat. Willard was mentally unstable and used his rats to kill the people who did him wrong. I dont think PETA should use Ben as a means to save rats.

  • Prathna Srinivas says:

    Any Idea to help these intelligent animals appeals to me…Rats and Mice are marvellous animals and don’t deserve to be treated as disposable lab specimens….

  • NT says:

    This is great but Michael Jackson was not that compassionate towards animals. Remember he kept monkeys as pets and imprisoned big cats in his Neverland ranch.

  • Pepsi One is Fun says:

    Too soon PETA…..too soon.

  • Meech! says:

    I’ve got 3 adopted rescue rats myself I call them my Gentlemen Rats. They’re the sweetest animals and it breaks my heart to think that some would treat rodents as dispicable creatures to support archaic experiments misguided history or something as ridiculous as the “unpleasant” texture of their tails. Their tails are actually fascinating organs of temperature regulation each ratty tail scale has 3 hairs which are raised and lowered to allow heat to leave the rat’s body. A cool rat tail means a cool rat! I hope I got that right

  • JANET LEWIS says:

    I WANT TO THANK PETA FOR ALL THE GOOD WORK THEY DO. I JUST CAN’T UNDERSTAND HOW ANYONE CAN DO THE THINGS THEY DO TO THESE INNICENT TRUSTING ANIMALS IT JUST BREAKS MY HEART.

  • JANET LEWIS says:

    I THINK THIS IS A GREAT IDEA. I KNOW MICHAEL WOULD LOVE TO HAVE HIS SONG USED TO HELP ANIMALS. HE LOVED ANIMALS AND APPEARED TO LOVE MICE AND RATS AS IN THE MOVIE “AMERICAN DREAM” IT SHOWS HIS FIRST PET A MOUSE WHICH GETS KILLED AND HURTS HIM TERRIBLY.

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