Declaration of Independence for Animals

All individuals are entitled to certain liberties as their birthright, whether they were born an orca, a macaque, a chicken, or a bat. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that no human being is entitled to use a perceived difference as justification for robbing a sentient individual of his or her inalienable right to freedom, dignity, autonomy, the pursuit of happiness, and the avoidance of needless pain and suffering.

Therefore, we have conceived this declaration of the rights of all animals.

Animals have the right not to be used in experiments, as food, as clothing, as entertainment, or in any other way against their own best interests.

Animals, including mice, who can solve complex puzzles with remarkable speed, have the right not to be imprisoned in laboratory cages and burned, poisoned, shocked, or mutilated.

Animals, including barn owls, who have been known to share their nests with animals of other species, have the right not to be used in any experiment.

Animals, including pigs, who have frequently saved the lives of their human guardians, have the right not to be crammed by the thousands into filthy, windowless sheds.

Animals, including fish, many of whom rub against one another as a sign of affection, have the right not to be impaled on a hook or caught in a net and pulled out of the water to suffocate.

Animals, including chickens, who worry about the future and pass knowledge down from one generation to the next, have the right not to have their throats slit and to die in terror in a slaughterhouse.

Animals, including rabbits, who leap in the air when they feel joyful, have the right not to have their skin torn off.

Animals, including sheep, who can read emotions on each other’s faces, have the right not to have their protective covering sliced off.

Animals, including orcas, whose pods each has its own language, have the right not to be taken from their homes, forcibly bred, and held captive in a concrete pool or behind bars in a cage.

Animals, including elephants, who can empathize with others’ pain, have the right not to be beaten, shackled, and forced to perform demeaning tricks.

Animals, including geese, who often spend the remainder of their life as a widow or widower after their lifelong mate is killed, have the right not to be shot for “sport.”

Animals, including raccoons, who frequently “wash” their food in water, have the right not to be killed just because humans have taken over their habitat and don’t want them there.

Animals, including pigeons, who can recognize all 26 letters of the English alphabet, have the right not to be harassed and harmed just for trying to survive.

Animals have the right to live, to raise families, to explore, to make choices, and to spend their time pursuing their own interests, not those of humans.

Animals have repeatedly appealed to humans’ sensibilities and objected to our tyranny over them by fleeing, hiding, crying out, or fighting for their lives, most often to no avail. All living beings experience hope, joy, love, fear, pain, loss, and sorrow, and we hold that all individuals are deserving of respect and consideration. In conclusion, animals have the right to be free of the crushing grip of human oppression, and we must grant them their independence.

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“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