Ricky Gervais Is PETA’s Person of the Year

Published by Alisa Mullins.

At a time when social media influences the outcome of everything from presidential elections to concert bookings, Ricky Gervais, who keeps his 5.3 million Twitter followers informed on animal rights issues in a witty and irreverent—yet relevant—way, has been named PETA’s 2013 Person of the Year.

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True to PETA’s position against animal abuse, when Melissa Bachman posed with a lion she had just shot and a big grin on her face, Gervais posted, “I’ll pay for each pride of lions to have their own designated sniper on their side. Now it’s a sport ….” In sync with PETA’s cruelty-free cosmetics campaign, Gervais tweeted, “Dear intelligent people of the world, don’t get shampoo in your eyes. It really stings. There. Done. Now f***ing stop torturing animals.

“I probably don’t do anymore than anyone else on Twitter, but with 5.3 million followers, I can reach an awful lot of people at once,” Gervais told JustGiving, which dubbed him the most influential celebrity on that site. “And if you’re passionate about something that has touched your heart, chances are it will touch many other people’s hearts in the same way.”

Gervais, whose wide social-media influence has also earned him a top Klout score among comedians, netted more than 58,000 favorites and 83,000 retweets of his tweets about animals in 2013. His other animal advocacy work includes appearing in this animated video against fur and exotic-animal skins, in which he supplies the voice for a rabbit, with rocker Pink in the role of the crocodile.

Here are some more samples of Gervais’ trademark blend of compassion and biting wit in 140 characters or less:

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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