Ingrid Newkirk's Blog
September 25, 2012
July 25, 2012
June 08, 2012
April 23, 2012
Cows are gentle, interesting animals. They don't advertise anything unless someone spraypaints a slogan on their sides. The California Milk Processor Board (CMPB) has done almost everything short of that in its increasingly bullish efforts to push consumers in the direction of the dairy case. For the last few years, it has bombarded the airways with frantic attempts to boost sales of cow's milk, even running negative ads against its opponents, à la the race for the presidential nomination. But cow's milk is neither good for the human body nor good for our friends the cows, as consumers are realizing in spite of all the industry's misleading attempts to make them think otherwise.
Now, the CMPB has launched a new campaign asserting that "real milk comes from cows." Besides annoying nursing mothers, this ad blitz -- coming from the same people behind the failed "got milk?" ads -- fudges the facts about dairy products' effects on both humans and cows. So PETA designed an ad of our own to be run near CMPB's headquarters, reading, "'Real Milk' Comes From Real Sick Cows."
September 30, 2011
All movements for social change take forever -- especially if you are the one in shackles, up the chimney, or having your bottom pinched at work. Finally, the chimpanzees' moment is approaching. Maryland Rep. Roscoe Bartlett -- a former Navy physiologist who once experimented on primates -- has introduced bipartisan legislation to end invasive research on great apes in the U.S.
Get ready for celebratory pant hoots from the general direction of Dr. Jane Goodall.
I am 62. So are some of the chimpanzees who were captured as youngsters from their families in Africa -- the mothers and aunts are shot if they try to defend their children, and they all do -- to be used in experiments here in the U.S. While I have been traveling the world, working on what I care about, enjoying personal relationships, hiking, and, most recently, watching Rise of the Planet of the Apes, many of my chimpanzee peers were restricted to sitting every day and lying every night on a concrete slab in a barren cage with steel bars and no windows. These chimpanzees, hundreds of them, have been alone all those decades: no mate, no child, no friend to comfort them, to help them get through the pain of whatever experiment they are being subjected to. Being possessed of the ability to anticipate, they could only dread the next ordeal -- a lung biopsy, perhaps, an injection, an infection -- who knows? They don't.
Half my life ago, almost exactly, I attended a symposium on alternatives to animal experiments held in Washington, D.C. It was one of two within a matter of months and the first of their kind in the United States. This one was put on by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); the other one was held at Georgetown University by the new animal rights group PETA. At the NIH one, Dr. Alfred Prince, well known for his blood-work experiments on chimpanzees, was labeled a turncoat by career experimenters. That's because he introduced a "Chimpanzee Bill of Rights." It was basic, but it put forward the idea that chimpanzees should not be treated as disposable objects but rather as feeling, social beings who had thoughts and interests and who should not be killed in experiments or allowed to go insane from long-term confinement. Some experiments would be off limits. If Dr. Prince could say that, after all he'd done to chimpanzees, including infecting them with hepatitis, mutiny was afoot!
At the time, this won the support of a few daring souls, including Dr. Roger Fouts. Fouts was conducting non-invasive research in Washington state and had in his care Washoe, a chimpanzee who knew hundreds of American Sign Language signs. Washoe was becoming famous for making up her own words, like "dirty toilet" for something she didn't like or "water apple" for watermelon. Fouts reminded scientists that at one time only humans were thought capable of using language but that this false belief was blown out of the water pretty definitively. He pointed out that the argument for linguistic superiority had quickly been replaced by the statement that only humans could use tools. That theory was quickly proved laughable. Chimpanzees use sticks to "fish" for termites, otters use shells to crack open other shells, and the list of instances of innovative tool-making among other animals just keeps growing. Fouts speculated to an audience at the Smithsonian Institution that perhaps the next desperate barrier to be erected that would stop us from having to accept our link to the rest of the animal kingdom -- and certainly to our closest relatives in it -- would be that only humans put their tools in special belts worn around their waists.
After Dr. Prince spoke, there was much mumbling and foot-shuffling in the auditorium. Then, a red-faced scientist stood up and screamed -- not spoke but screamed -- that any talk of affording chimpanzees rights was nonsense. He was beside himself with rage as he accused anyone who cared about animals as using "solely emotional arguments." I stood up to say that there's nothing wrong (in fact there's often everything right) with being moved by the plight of others -- for those who can't empathize include sociopaths -- but I really didn't need to open my mouth. The irony of his fiercely emotional outburst said it all. I drove home thinking, "It's started." But look how long the journey has taken!
Having been in prison myself, I can assure you that, after only two lousy weeks, even having been surrounded by other prisoners, able to watch TV, take a phone call now and then, go to Bible study (I'm an atheist, but it passed the time), and walk a little in a communal area, my first beer and first bowl of vegetable lo mien never tasted so good. At Save the Chimps, a sanctuary in Florida where former lab chimpanzees are now living in groups on islands in the sun, the saying "Freedom never tasted so sweet" is almost palpable. These refugees from Alamogordo's hellhole lab cells at White Plains, New Mexico, lived exactly as I have described above. Now they race about in the grass or, in some cases because they are so mentally disabled by their past experiences, sit and watch the birds and the sky, their backs to the world, unable yet to communicate with others. At chimpanzee sanctuaries elsewhere, you can see the rescued apes taste snow for the first time, gaze at mountains, cherish their blankets, hug toys to their chests as if they were their lost children, and make chimpanzee friends.
Animal liberation was once a wonderful dream, but now, starting with the chimpanzees, it is beginning to happen. There will be no retribution trials, but there should be. And not just for chimpanzees. After all, SeaWorld, which has condemned free ocean-going orcas to lonely lives performing tricks in a small, cement pool, and circus profiteers, who have removed elephant babies from their mothers, tied them down, and beaten them in order to break their spirits and make them perform, should be forced to tell the public every detail of their wretched trades. History will do it for them, regardless.
Let's wish the other animals the best in winning their future freedom, too, and celebrate the eventual end of our role as their masters.
July 07, 2011
Beer, bulls and blood. Oh, and tourists so soused that they can't even pull their pants up after adding another stinking outpouring of urine to the already saturated cobblestones. These have all come together in the annual Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, kicked off this week by both protests and partying.
Participants in any of the 15 days' worth of chasing bulls from holding pen to bull ring every day -- at least those who manage to escape unharmed -- may be too caught up in their own adrenaline rush to give a thought to what happens to bulls at the finish line, but the fact is that the bulls never win the race. They may gouge a man or two as they slip and slide along the way, crashing in panic into the walls during their stampede, but they will soon be as dead as Mr. Hemingway himself who revelled in what he called "death in the afternoon": the corrida.
Is it because they are big and strong and they don't sleep on the bed and kiss our noses that people blithely flip through tour guides announcing that in this Spanish town, men will torture bulls every day for two weeks and they can join in if they like? Not in the evenings, though, when the professionals, the "matadors" (literally "killers"), will amuse the crowd by further harassing the unfortunate animals, spearing them through the back with banderillas so that they bleed to exhaustion, and finally digging a dagger into their spines.
Bulls who are bred to be killed in the ring, like fighting dogs in the basement of a rundown apartment building, will never know freedom. These bulls are denied even the pleasure of grazing on fresh grass or dozing in a meadow. Before and after the run, they are jammed into holding pens, and those who have sustained injuries during the race receive no painkillers or care as they await further assaults. Since their fate is already sealed, food and water are rarely provided. To add to their misery, the bulls are fed laxatives and have heavy sandbags dropped onto their backs to debilitate them before a fight. Some handlers rub petroleum jelly into the bulls' eyes to impair their vision or file down their horns to keep them off-balance. It's the look of bravery that counts, but the reality is outright cowardice.
Because drama is more important than skill, bulls are often still conscious at the end of the fight as their ears and tails are cut off as "trophies" and their broken bodies are dragged out of the ring by horses, unwilling participants in this cruelty, who themselves are frequently gored.
Since the vast majority of Spaniards now condemn this shameful tradition -- Catalonia, widely considered the birthplace of bullfighting, has banned it, as has Spanish national television -- it is tourists from Europe, Australia and America who sentence bulls to death by attending this festival or any of the bullfights. Many report being appalled when they finally witness the savagery that they did not consider in advance -- but by then, it's too late. Every euro spent to buy a ticket to a bullfight helps kill the bulls and keep the hideous spectacle alive.
Bulls can do nothing to demand justice. They can only defend themselves as best they can in a fight with a pre-determined ending and die never knowing why they were forced to endure such a painful and prolonged death. It's up to us, as a civilized society, to call for an end to the Running of the Bulls and bullfighting.
May 05, 2011
There's no question that four-time Super Bowl winner Terry Bradshaw is a champion, but, vested interest aside, why is he talking up an industry in which even winners are losers?: horse racing. Footballers can retire with money in the bank, but ten thousand castoff athletes who are thoroughbred racehorses in the U.S. will meet their end with a bolt to the brain this year alone. But first, they will have to travel in cramped tractor-trailers, all the way to Mexico or Canada, before they get the chop. For horses, who are high-strung and nervous to begin with, the stress of "killer" auctions and the journey to slaughter is a nightmare.
A few weeks ago, a PETA undercover investigator filmed inside the breeding barns at one of the world's most expensive thoroughbred breeding facilities. We documented a factory assembly-line regimen in which stallions "service" more than 100 mares each in a single breeding season. Nearly 25,000 thoroughbred foals will be churned out of those breeding barns this year alone. Given that only about 20 horses will run in the Kentucky Derby, where does that leave the rest?
The dark, dingy barns like those at Sugarcreek Livestock Auction in Ohio, provide a snapshot of what befalls the hapless losers. PETA undercover investigators who were there two weeks ago found lots of discarded horses being sold for slaughter, including a thoroughbred mare named Coming Home. She is the granddaughter of Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled and cousin to Eight Belles, the mare who suffered a catastrophic breakdown during the 2008 Kentucky Derby as the whole world was watching. Despite her pedigree, Coming Home was sold to a meat buyer for just $200. She was only hours away from being trucked to a slaughterhouse when PETA's investigator stepped in and bought her. Coming Home will at last come home to a safe and permanent home, on a PETA member's ranch.
Coming Home is no isolated case, but this mare shows that lineage does not protect a horse from a bad and frightening end. Because horse slaughter is now outlawed in the U.S., thousands of horses will be tucked out of the country, on an often long journey. Some will put out an eye, others will be kicked and bitten, and some will fall and be trampled as they journey to their deaths. Others who are spared that ride may spend the rest of their days neglected, starved and forgotten, as in the case of well-known New York horse breeder Ernie Paragallo, who was convicted of starving nearly 200 horses. Owners who pay exorbitant stud fees turn their backs on horses who are too old or injured to run or who are just not fast enough. There are too many horses and too few retirement options.
While the best bet for the horses would be to stop betting on the Derby and other horse races, and to stop breeding, racing and killing thoroughbreds altogether, who could disagree that at the very least, the racing world, which makes millions upon millions from horses, should provide a decent retirement for the animals it no longer has any use for. It's not enough, but it's a start, and it's not asking much.
PETA has made a proposal to the Jockey Club. The Thoroughbred 360 Life Cycle Retirement Fund would require a mandatory $360 retirement fee for each registration of a foaland for each transfer of ownership.
This modest fee amounts to pocket change for breeders and owners but would generate more than $20 million toward horses' retirement. It wouldn't solve all the problems and would require proper planning and administration. But without it, tens of thousands of thoroughbreds will continue to be shipped to slaughterhouses in Canada, Mexico and even Japan, where Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand ended up on a meat hook.
For the horses, implementing this plan is a matter of life or death. Terry Bradshaw, will you please stand up for them and be counted?
March 22, 2011
I receive new books every day--many wonderful books, such as Jason Hribal's Fear of the Animal Planet and Marc Bekoff's The Animal Manifesto--books that make you think and act, and that are great gifts to pass along. Today, God's Country: The New Zealand Factor launches. In it, authors Michael Tobias and Jane Gray Morrison (two longtime, extraordinarily thoughtful and clever friends of PETA and animals) ask, "What if a relatively small number of human beings decided that they were powerful enough to stop the destruction of the world?"
God's Country is thoughtful, impeccably researched, and deeply moving. In the foreword, I describe it as bursting at its seams "with enough data to fill any reader's head with provocative reflection for years to come, hopefully for life. It should be seen as a lifeline that can be used to pull Earthlings out of the self-destructive waves of a turbulent sea--a sea that we have churned up as a species, but have the power to calm, if only we think clearly, look through a moral glass, and act quickly before we go under for what could be the last time."
In true PETA style, Michael and Jane "make short shrift of the disturbing and macho idea that caring--for others, the Earth, your own health--is a sign of weakness. With plain and honest arguments and stunning clarity, they show ... that to care is a sign of true strength, character, and much more," I wrote. "The authors expose the 'survivalist' approach for the anachronism that it is," and they "lift the lid on what goes on in places most of us will never enter, from the very bowels of slaughterhouses, to those countless factory farms where animals are raised in pitiful conditions to be slaughtered. Their vivid, even clinical descriptions make it clear that Attila the Hun himself might be moved to shame if he were to consider what our species does to the others in this, the 21st century."
You can download the book, and I hope that you will do so and share it widely. This book is a blueprint for action for any person who has ever given even a passing thought to what counts in life, including the Earth we live on. It should be nominated for a Pulitzer!
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September 16, 2010
Dog guardians all know that the most exciting time of the day for Spot is playtime. We all play games such as fetch, but what about some games that are fun for you and your furry friend and have the extra benefit of stimulating your companion's brain? I discussed this topic in my book Let's Have a Dog Party! and thought I would share the following excerpt with you:
Noncompetitive games that you and your dog can play together include basic problem-solving skills and can earn your dog ribbons and trophies.
The Buster Fun Bone Treat is an extremely hard game in which a dog has to try to extract differently colored bones from a container in order to win an award. This game requires an investment of your time, but the delight of seeing your dog learn more and more is worth every second.
The I-Cube Puzzle is a plush cube containing squeaking balls that dogs can retrieve from inside it. The Hide-a-Bee Puzzle and Hide-a-Squirrel Puzzle stimulate dogs' minds and play on their curiosity. Available [online at Tail Waggers].
If you learn how to get your dog to use your (or anyone's) scent as a clue to which object to select from a group of objects, you can even amaze your friends by having your dog pick out the card you selected and then put back in the pack. Roy Hunter's amazing book Fun Nose Work will show you how. This book ... is full of interesting interactive games that engage a dog's nose and his brain and allow you to play with your dog as you both learn. In this book, Mr. Hunter, who spent twenty-five years working in the dog's section of the Metropolitan Police force of London, England, describes how dogs can be trained to find anything and everything including, in the case of a dog in New Zealand, six-inch nails under six inches of water! He takes guardian and dog through their paces, starting with easy-as-pie lessons to mind-boggling feats of tracking. Everything is done by understanding a dog's natural ability and rewarding progress.
How about you? Have you made up any games-or come across any-that seem to stimulate Fido's mind and senses?
September 15, 2010
First, there was the jaw-dropping story of a British woman who was caught on camera tossing an affectionate cat into an outdoor trash bin. Then, it was an Eastern European girl who slung crying puppies into a fast-moving stream. Now, right here in America, some people have imprisoned a dog inside a box barely bigger than his own body. The box has solid sides, and the dog can only see out if he jumps up and peers over them. He has been locked in the box for months. To add to the mental torment, the dog has worn his teeth down to nubs from biting at his prison, so his owners occasionally take him out of the box to painfully drill holes vertically into his teeth in order to irrigate them. And right there by the side of the box, the dog's keepers also manually extract sperm from him and use it to breed other dogs to sell. There's more, but the abuse that I've already described should be enough to make any decent person sick.
Take a look at Google Maps, and you can look down into the container and see the dog lying there.
Why, you may ask, aren't these people in jail? How is it that the local humane society has not swooped in and seized the dog?
Oh, I'm sorry. Did I write ''dog''? I meant to write ''orca.'' And the people perpetrating this horror are SeaWorld executives. So why exactly does swapping one intelligent animal for another or swapping an average Joe for rich business executives lessen the horror of this orca's ordeal or the injustice of the situation? Answer: It doesn't.
Tilikum is the orca. He killed a human being--for the third time--earlier this year. Perhaps there's a reason why killer whales are called ''killer'' whales. Tilikum didn't give his keeper, Dawn Brancheau, a little playful toss or misjudge and hold her under water just a second too long for her to survive. He shook her like a rag doll, slammed her into the side of the pool, stopped her from surfacing, and tore her body apart. My bet is that he knew exactly what he was doing. Having seen how he is kept and knowing where he came from, it's not hard to comprehend the depth of his anger and frustration.
milan.boers / CC by 2.0
Tilikum is 32 years old. When he was just 2 years old, he was caught by marine "cowboys" who kidnap dolphins and orcas to sell to amusement parks. He was taken from his family--his pod--in the open waters off Iceland, and he's lived in a cement pool ever since, unable to use his echolocation, to swim away, to travel the oceans, or to hear or see his relatives. He is ''trained'' to eat what he's given and do what he's told. He is also trained to roll over, which allows trainers to masturbate him with a gloved hand and collect his semen in a container. His semen is frozen for later use or used immediately to inseminate female orcas at one of SeaWorld's parks so as to provide additional animals to use in shows.
Life in a tiny concrete tank is no life at all for these animals, as evidenced by the death this week of Tilikum's 12-year-old son at SeaWorld San Diego. Twelve! This orca would likely have lived to be 50 or 60 in the open sea, his rightful home.
After the third human being lost her life to Tilikum, SeaWorld reduced his meager ''world'' even further. Tilly is now relegated mostly, if not solely, to the ''F pool,'' a solid-sided concrete pool that measures just 36 feet long and 25 feet wide. Tilikum is 22 1/2 feet long with a wide girth. He weighs more than 12,000 pounds. So he has to scrunch just to turn around. And once turned, there he is again, nose against the other wall. He has been condemned to hang in place in the water indefinitely.
PETA is calling on the local humane society and the state's attorney to free Tilly. After all, cruelty to animals, whether to a dog or to an orca, is illegal in all states.
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