See the Thought-Provoking PETA Ad That Just Won a Telly Award

Published by Lindsay Pollard-Post.

Updated June 24, 2016: PETA has won a prestigious Telly Award for its ad comparing the lives of animals used in circuses with the slaves who were forced to work for their keep, written and performed by Robbyne Kaamil. Check it out:

Originally posted on May 28, 2015:

Slavery has been abolished … or has it? In a powerful new public service announcement (PSA), comedian, actor, advice columnist, and animal defender Robbyne Kaamil—whose great-great-grandmother was a slave—points out that for animals who are held captive in circuses, zoos, and marine parks, the slave trade is very much alive today. And if you buy a ticket to these places, you’re supporting it.

Robbyne’s PSA will be running on Baltimore-area television stations and will coincide with the appearance of the notoriously cruel UniverSoul Circus, whose elephant handler faces a cruelty charge in Georgia after he was allegedly caught inserting a bullhook (a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on one end) into an elephant’s mouth.

Much like the human slaves who were torn away from their homes and communities, sent overseas, and forced to toil on American plantations, many animals who are used in the entertainment industry are violently abducted from their natural homes, separated from their families and friends, and forced to perform under the constant threat of physical punishment.

Elephants used in circuses are beaten into submission and shackled by the leg between shows. Orcas at SeaWorld and other marine parks spend their lives swimming in small circles inside tiny barren tanks, slowly losing their minds. Birds who were born to soar in the sky are reduced to sitting on perches in zoo cages, never knowing freedom.

Our species should know better by now, but the same ethical disconnect that was used to justify the enslavement of other humans still exists today—that those who are “different” are somehow not worthy of moral consideration. But in this case, the “others” aren’t members of different races—they’re members of different species.

It’s a phony argument, because animals aren’t really different at all. All living beings value their lives, cherish (or long for) freedom, feel pain and pleasure, and experience joy and sadness. Many beings can learn languages, enjoy complex social bonds, sacrifice pleasure for the good of others, use tools, imagine, dream, and mourn their lost loved ones. No living beings deserve to be abused or enslaved, regardless of their capabilities, gender, race, religion, age, sexual orientation, or species.

Please, rise up against the injustice of the modern-day slave trade. Never buy a ticket to a zoo, circus, or marine park, and choose only animal-free entertainment.

“When you buy a ticket to SeaWorld, Ringling Bros. circus, your local zoo or aquarium, you are an active participant in this modern-day slave trade.”

—Robbyne Kaamil

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind