On PETA’s 38th Birthday: Rescues That We Will Never Forget

Published by PETA Staff.
9 min read

August 21 marks PETA’s 38th birthday. Over the past three and a half decades, PETA has rescued countless animals from abusive situations. Here are just a few of the animals we will never forget, whose rescues were made possible by our millions of members and supporters:


Billy was rescued in the summer of 1981, after an eyewitness investigation inside the Institute for Behavioral Research in Silver Spring, Maryland, revealed that monkeys were subjected to debilitating surgeries in which their spinal nerves were severed, rendering one or more of their limbs useless. PETA gathered meticulous log notes and secretly photographed the crippled monkeys as well as their horrendous living conditions and took the evidence to the police. This groundbreaking investigation led to the nation’s first arrest and criminal conviction of an animal experimenter for cruelty to animals, the first confiscation of abused animals from a laboratory, and the first U.S. Supreme Court victory for animals used in experiments.


After spending three decades confined to a cramped cage at a defunct roadside zoo, elderly Fifi was frail and nearly crippled with arthritis. But once PETA rescued her and arranged for her to be transferred to the spacious Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, she was like a new bear, splashing in the water and making a beeline for a tub full of fresh fruits and veggies.


Edith spent nearly a decade on a chain before PETA was able to persuade her owner to allow us to give her a better life. Today, she lives with the PETA fieldworker who visited her for years and gave her a doghouse, straw bedding, toys, treats, and—to Edith, most important of all—affection.


Koa was beaten so severely that, even with emergency treatment, surgeons had to remove one of his ears—and he nearly lost an eye as well. After weeks of intensive care donated by PETA, the little pig pulled through and was adopted by a kind family whose members shower him with love and gave him his name, which means “warrior” in Hawaiian.


Iris’ previous “home” was a filthy, windowless cell, roughly the size of a walk-in closet, at a seedy roadside zoo in Georgia. Thanks to a generous PETA patron, Iris was rescued and relocated to the spacious, tropical Save the Chimps sanctuary in Florida, where she immediately fell in love with another chimpanzee named Abdul, giving him a big hug and a kiss when they first met.


Housed in a cramped, filthy plastic crate at a decrepit roadside zoo, Nigel was picked up by the ears and thrown to a python for dinner. Luckily, the snake wasn’t hungry that day, and Nigel’s luck held as a PETA eyewitness arrived to rescue him. Today he lives in a loving home, where he often jumps for joy.


At the sham “sanctuary” in Florida where Isaac lived, animals often went without food for days at a time and were denied water, too—even when heat indices topped 100 degrees. In response to evidence gathered by PETA, the local sheriff seized nearly 200 animals, including Isaac, who now lives at a true sanctuary.

Angie and Brad

Angie and Brad were among more than 400 chinchillas warehoused inside cramped cages at one of the largest chinchilla ranches in California. denied basic veterinary care, even for emergencies. Chinchillas who didn’t “work out” as “pets” were electrocuted and skinned so that their pelts could be turned into hats, scarves, coats, and blankets. When the farmers put the ranch up for sale and threatened to kill all the chinchillas if they didn’t find a buyer, a PETA donor put up the funds to rescue Angie, Brad, and all the others.


Crippled, nearly blind from an eye infection, and covered with lice, Jerry was rescued from a dairy farm just in the nick of time by a PETA investigator and retired to a spacious sanctuary for lots of long-overdue TLC.


Sunder was still just a young elephant in 2007 when he was given to an Indian temple to be used for collecting money from villagers in exchange for “blessings.” His handler kept him tightly chained and beat him mercilessly. PETA India had to take his case to court before it could finally secure his freedom and get him moved to a lush sanctuary to live out his life with other elephants.



Ruby was adopted into a loving home after a PETA undercover investigation at Professional Laboratory and Research Services, Inc., got the workers indicted on felony cruelty-to-animals charges, the 250 dogs and cats at the facility surrendered, and the place shut down!

Coming Home

© Kip Malone

Coming Home, a horse used for racing, was sold to a meat buyer when she stopped winning races and was hours from being sent to slaughter when PETA rescued her.

Ruby and Rusty

© Wendy Cassidy/Phoenix Herpetological Society

After a PETA investigation got international exotic-animal dealer U.S. Global Exotics shut down, a record-breaking 26,000 animals were seized, including Ruby and Rusty, two kinkajous, who were sent to the beautiful, spacious Phoenix Herpetological Society sanctuary.



© Sean Noronha

PETA India staffers rescued Parineeta from the side of the road, where she had been abandoned with a broken leg after spending years hauling building materials for railroads. She now lives in the beautiful Nilgiri hills with other retired working animals.



Nudge spent nearly 10 years confined to a tiny cage in a filthy “no-kill” warehouse. A PETA investigation got the hoarder shut down and the animals removed forever. Now Nudge has a wonderful home and all the snuggling that she can handle.



Miranda’s owner was going to eat Miranda and her sisters until a PETA staffer came along and talked the man out of the idea. Now, instead of being on the dinner table, Miranda and her siblings happily run and play around it—and the rest of the house.



Alaska was forced to live in a cramped cage and perform for the Suarez Bros. Circus in temperatures that topped 100 degrees, until a PETA complaint resulted in her confiscation by the federal government. She was retired to a comfortable compound at the Baltimore Zoo, where she could play with a formerly lonely male polar bear.



Pancake lived in one filthy tank after another, and no one knew how to fulfill even the most basic of his turtle needs. A PETA staffer discovered Pancake’s appalling living conditions and had him sent to a sanctuary.



Gracie’s first owner bought her to feed to a snake, but Gracie was too big. A PETA staffer adopted her, and now sweet Gracie loves to go outside to play with her adopted rabbit sisters.


© Alan T. Smith

After Sheena‘s reluctant guardian surrendered the mutt to a Utah animal shelter, Sheena was purchased by the University of Utah for use in experiments. Sheena’s guardian alerted PETA, and we were able to get Sheena out of the laboratory and stop all seizures of dogs and cats from Utah pounds.



Someone burned the beaver lodge in which beaver Puff lived and shot the beavers as they fled. That’s how Puff found himself in the yard of a kind couple who located a wildlife rehabilitator for him. PETA’s wildlife biologist drove Puff the eight hours to the rehabilitator, who nurtured him until he could be released.



Dovi was a sick and malnourished puppy, abandoned along a rural road in North Carolina when PETA’s Community Animal Project workers found him. Now, he is a happy, healthy dog who loves harmonica music and bounding about in the dog park.


© Chip Vinai

Muff spent 15 years in a tiny cage at a roadside zoo with nothing to do but pace endlessly back and forth. But just two days after PETA rescuers took him to the Texas Snow Monkey Sanctuary, he had stopped pacing and made friends with a female baboon.


© Peter V. Chetirkin

Herman was abandoned on the beach near PETA’s Norfolk, Virginia, headquarters. Knowing that the warm-weather animal would never survive the winter, a PETA staffer arranged for him to be transported to a Florida wildlife sanctuary.

Cem and Zoe


Cem, Zoe, and four other geese were found languishing in muddy ponds on a run-down property. PETA took them in, and now the six friends float on two large and beautiful ponds on wooded property at a sanctuary for rescued waterfowl.



During an undercover investigation at a University of North Carolina laboratory, PETA found mice and rats suffering from gaping wounds, tumors, and other illnesses and injuries. One of them was sweet Tulip, a mouse whom the investigator took home with her to live safely forever.


Many humans are born into a world that promises them safety, liberty, and protection. Most other animals don’t have that privilege. Help us give more of these individuals the lives that they deserve—become a PETA member today!

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