WATCH: PETA’s 40th Anniversary Party—A Star-Studded Celebration for Animal Rights

Published by Carolyn Englar.

PETA has been working harder than ever for animals in 2020—and we’ve got the star-studded 40th anniversary extravaganza to prove it! To celebrate our many animal rights victories and honor some of the celebrities who helped make them happen, we invited people around the world to party with us from the comfort and safety of their own homes. And while we would have loved to toast victories for animals in person, we’ll admit that we’re not mad about hanging out with some of the world’s biggest stars in our sweats.

Cohosted by longtime PETA pals Alan Cumming and Edie Falco, our virtual event was attended by thousands of supporters from dozens of countries around the world who celebrated 40 years of landmark victories for animals, including a shift in public opinion and the scientific community against animal testing, the shutdown of Ringling Bros. Circus, the skyrocketing interest in vegan food, and the demise of the fur, angora, and other skins industries.

If you weren’t able to join us for the event, check out the highlight reel and recap below to relive some of the evening’s most memorable moments!

All we wanted for Christmas was for Mariah Carey to come to our party … and she did! The famous diva presented her close friend and proud vegan Jermaine Dupri (or “J.D.,” as she calls him) with PETA’s Humanitarian Award, which he graciously accepted from his hit-making studio in Atlanta.

PETA gifted the world a 9 to 5 reunion when country queen Dolly Parton presented her former costar Lily Tomlin with PETA’s Humanitarian Award. Self-proclaimed “cause queen” Tomlin also reminded guests that PETA has always had a sense of humor and presented a short segment highlighting all the times that we have collaborated with famous comedians to help animals.

Sports fans rejoiced seeing Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback Patrick Mahomes present his teammate Tyrann Mathieu with his much-deserved PETA Humanitarian Award, which he received for speaking up for dogs suffering in extreme weather. Did we mention that these two won the Super Bowl this year?

PETA’s 40th Anniversary Swag Bag

Bill Maher’s 40th Anniversary “New Rule: Listen to PETA” segment highlighted our victories in ending many nightmarish experiments. He reiterated, “Ending experiments on animals isn’t rocket science. It’s just good science.”

We don’t want to name drop … but we’re gonna name drop. Some of the biggest names in music, film, and sports sent their love to PETA and their support for animals to celebrate our 40th, including Sir Paul McCartney, Jackie Chan, Pamela Anderson, Gillian Anderson, Alec Baldwin, Enes Kanter, Paulina Rubio, John Abraham, Belinda Carlisle, and Joanna Krupa.

Joaquin Phoenix; his wonderful mom, Heart; and his siblings Liberty, Rain, and Summer led viewers in a heartfelt moment, presenting an investigator who went undercover to expose violence in the wool industry with the River Phoenix Activist Award.

An activist in her own right, Kat Graham invited viewers to change the world and end speciesism by changing what we eat, what we wear, and how we live. Filmed at Full Circle Farm Sanctuary in Atlanta, she had help from some energetic rescued goats and sheep when accepting her PETA Humanitarian Award and delivering her crucial message.

Brother and sister duo Jesse & Joy gave viewers a reason to get off the couch and dance when they performed their hit song “Love” all the way from Mexico City. And they had the most adorable introduction from young actor Vivien Lyra Blair, whose PETA campaign basically broke the internet.

Edie Falco walked us through some of PETA’s victories in her hometown of New York City, including our strategic work on Wall Street buying stock in companies that support animal abuse, such as SeaWorld and slaughterhouses, to advocate for animals from the inside.

Fashion icon Tim Gunn also joined us from the Big Apple, in front of fashion designer Stella McCartney’s SoHo shop, to share PETA’s work in getting top designers to adopt animal-friendly fashion in their collections.

Oscar winner Casey Affleck donned a tux for the occasion to show everyone that animals have a voice—even if we can’t always understand what they’re telling us. He also introduced NBA legend and longtime vegan John Salley, who reminded everyone while accepting his award that tofu never caused a pandemic.

PETA supporters were very excited to celebrate our 40th anniversary with their animal companions:

PETA donor Elissa Free

PETA donor Alysoun Mahoney

When influencer Eva Gutowski accepted her award, she urged viewers to speak up for what they believe in, no matter how big or small their platform may be. 

It was a true punk-rock moment when Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde took us to London to celebrate PETA’s major vivisection victories and present her “favorite rock star” Iggy Pop with his PETA Humanitarian Award.

James Cromwell led us on a trip down memory lane by counting down PETA’s “Greatest Vegan Hits,” starting with our first-ever vegetarian commercial in 1990 starring k.d. lang. The “Meat Stinks” PSA actually got the singer’s record banned from country radio (but her album eventually went gold—so you’re welcome, k.d.!).

Anjelica Huston had some help from her playful feline friends to honor the work of PETA’s fieldworkers, highlighted in the documentary Breaking the Chain, which the Oscar winner executive produced. She also presented a retrospective of all the top athletes who have joined PETA to speak up for animals.

Things got dramatic when Kate del Castillo showed up on screen sharing a story from PETA history that almost seems too absurd to be true … almost.

Jillian Michaels and her horse JB joined us to celebrate our many victories for animals used in entertainment, from pushing racetrack owners to adopt massive drug reforms to keeping real animals safely off television and film sets. 

George Lopez reiterated what many animal advocates know to be so true: We don’t rescue animals—they rescue us. Alongside one of his rescued Chihuahuas, the famous comedian introduced PETA President Ingrid Newkirk, who reminded us that humans are just one animal among many.

Honorary PETA Directors Alan Cumming and Edie Falco dazzled audiences with their kindness and closed the show with their impressive singing skills. 

Cheers to all who tuned in to celebrate and support our work! Our staff and the animals we help thank you for your compassion.

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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