People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals logo

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is an animal rights organization based in the United States. With a stated 1.6 million members and supporters PETA claims to be the largest animal rights group in the world.[1]

Founded in 1980 and based in Norfolk, Virginia, PETA is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) corporation with 187 employees,[2] and funded almost exclusively by the contributions of its members.[1] Outside the U.S., there are affiliated offices in Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, South Africa, Taiwan, and the UK.[3] There is also the peta2 Street Team for high-school and college-age activists.[4] Ingrid Newkirk is PETA's international president.

PETA's slogan is "animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment."[1] In support of that position, it focuses on four core issues: factory farming,[5] fur farming, animal testing, and animals in entertainment. It also campaigns against fishing, the killing of animals regarded as pests, abuse of backyard dogs, cock fighting, and consumption of meat. It aims to inform the public of its position through advertisements, undercover investigations, animal rescue, and lobbying.

The organization has been criticized for some of its campaigns, for the actions of some of its employees regarding their treatment of animals, [6] and for the number of animals it euthanizes. It was also criticized in 2005 by Senator James M. Inhofe for having acted as a "spokesgroup" for the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front, after activists associated with those groups had committed what Inhofe called "acts of terrorism."[7][8][9] Template:Animal liberation movement


PETA is an animal rights organization, meaning that in addition to focusing on animal welfare and protection issues, it rejects the idea of animals as property, and opposes all forms of speciesism, animal testing, animal product eating, factory farming, and hunting, as well as the use of animals in entertainment or as clothing, furniture, or decoration.[10]

In PETA's 2004 annual review, Newkirk stated:



Template:Rquote Founded in 1980, PETA first came to public attention in 1981 during what became known as the Silver Spring monkeys case.[11] Alex Pacheco, PETA co-founder with Newkirk, conducted an undercover investigation inside a primate research laboratory at the Institute of Behavioral Research in Silver Spring, Maryland. The lead researcher, Dr. Edward Taub, was studying regeneration of severed nerves by cutting nerves in the limbs of 17 monkeys, then applying electric shocks, physical restraint of intact limbs, and withholding food to see what, if anything, would force them to use the damaged limbs.[12] Pacheco visited the institute at night and took photographs that showed the monkeys were living in "filthy conditions," according to the Institute for Animal Research's ILAR Journal.[13] He turned his evidence over to the police, who raided the lab and arrested Taub. Taub was later convicted of six counts of animal cruelty, the first conviction in the U.S. of a research scientist, although it was later overturned on appeal.

The case, which lasted ten years, led to the amendment of the Animal Welfare Act in 1985,[14][15] and became the first animal-testing case to be argued before the United States Supreme Court,[11] which unanimously rejected PETA's application for custody of some of the monkeys. They remained instead with the National Institutes of Health, which had funded Taub's research, until they died or were euthanized.[13][16] Findings were made by the examining veterinarians that "the animals were suffering and in danger of serious life-threatening injuries due to their deteriorating health," and euthanasia was recommended by the primate center's blue ribbon panel of animal care experts and the Louisiana SPCA. PETA and other animal rights groups pleaded for the animals' lives, contending that their condition did not warrant euthanasia and that "they could live safely, humanely, and comfortably if transferred to a suitable facility."[17] The director of the Delta Regional Primate Center said: “They still blocked the euthanasia with court action. They are going to fight very hard for every monkey because the more publicity they get, the more money they bring in.”[18] Ultimately, PETA's efforts to save the animals failed, and they were euthanized when the appeal was denied.[19][20]

The case defined PETA as an activist group that was able and willing to use undercover methods, the courts, and the media to try and achieve its aims.

Philosophy and activismEdit

See also List of notable supporters of PETA and List of notable opponents of PETA
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The organization is known for its undercover investigations and aggressive media campaigns. Newkirk has said of PETA's campaign strategy: "How do we pick our battles? By trying to touch the public imagination, the public heart, and by choosing targets that will result in great change for large numbers of animals and set an example for others to follow when we win our battles with them."[21]

Many of PETA's campaigns have focused on large corporations, such as KFC, McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, PETCO, Procter & Gamble, Covance, and Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS). PETA now focuses on KFC, and has launched the website[22] In 1997, PETA initiated what has become an international, and sometimes violent, campaign against HLS, when video footage shot covertly inside the company by PETA investigator Michele Rokke[8] was aired on British television, showing staff beating the beagles in their care.[23] When HLS threatened legal action, PETA was forced to retreat from the campaign, fearing crippling costs, and Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, a loose affiliation of activists with links to other groups, took its place.[8]


PETA's president and co-founder Ingrid Newkirk.


Ingrid Newkirk is firm in her support of direct action. Both she and PETA have been criticized for providing financial support to Animal Liberation Front (ALF) activists when they were faced with legal action against them. The Observer noted what it calls a "network of relationships between seemly unconnected animal rights groups on both sides of the Atlantic,"[8] writing that, with assets of $6.5 million, and with the PETA Foundation holding further assets of $15 million, PETA funds individual activists and activist groups, some with "links to extremists."[8] This includes links to the ALF and Earth Liberation Front (ELF), which have been named as terrorist groups by the FBI.[24][25][26][27]

Rod Coronado, a former ALF activist, received $64,000 from the group and 2 months later another $38,240 as a loan which has never been paid back to fund his legal defense when he was convicted of having set fire to a Michigan State University research lab in 1992. PETA claimed a tax refund from the Internal Revenue Service for the donation after the arson took place.[28][8] PETA is also alleged to have donated $1.3 million to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM),[8] an organization that promotes the use of alternatives to animal testing, but which has been criticized for its links with the ALF, and in particular with Dr. Jerry Vlasak, a trauma surgeon who runs the North American Animal Liberation Press Office.[29] PETA also gave $5,000 to the Josh Harper Support Committee, before Harper was convicted of "animal enterprise terrorism" in the U.S. in connection with the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign[30] and, according to the New York Post, gave $1,500 to the ELF in 2001.[31] Newkirk said of the ELF donation that it was a mistake, and that the money was supposed to be used for "public education about destruction of habitat."[31] According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, PETA also provided $7,500 to Fran Trutt, convicted of the attempted murder of Leon Hirsch, the CEO of the United States Surgical Corporation.[32]

In general, Newkirk makes no apology for PETA's support of activists who may break the law, writing that "no movement for social change has ever succeeded without 'the militarism component'." Of the Animal Liberation Front, she writes: "Thinkers may prepare revolutions, but bandits must carry them out." [33]


During an event funded by several animal rights groups, including PETA, PETA's vegan campaigns director Bruce Friedrich said: "If we really believe that animals have the same right to be free from pain and suffering at our hands, then of course we're going to be blowing things up and smashing windows. ... I think it's a great way to bring about animal liberation, considering the level of suffering, the atrocities. I think it would be great if all of the fast-food outlets, slaughterhouses, these laboratories, and the banks that fund them, exploded tomorrow."[34]

PETA members have themselves crossed the line between campaigning and direct action, particularly in their long-standing efforts to halt the fur industry,[35] which has involved disrupting fashion shows and throwing paint at fur coats.[36] In 1996, PETA activists famously threw a dead raccoon onto the table of Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue, who promotes the use of fur in fashion, while she was dining at the Four Seasons in New York, and left bloody paw prints and the words "Fur Hag" on the steps of her home. PETA supporters have also pied Wintour more than once,[37] and a member delivered a package of maggot-infested innards to her office in April 2000, explaining in a press release that "Anna stole this animal’s skin and his life, she might as well have his guts."[38]


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PETA is best known for its highly visible, often controversial campaigns. (See below.) The Lettuce Ladies, young women dressed in bikinis which appear to be made of lettuce, gather in city centers to hand out leaflets about veganism. Every year the "Running of the Nudes" campaign sees PETA activists run naked through Pamplona, Spain in a parody of the annual Running of the Bulls tradition.[40] Supermodels such as Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell have posed naked on billboards with the slogan "I'd Rather Go Naked than Wear Fur" emblazoned across their chests.[41]

PETA's campaigning tactics were described as not "much different than blackmail" in 2005 by Dr Len Stevens, the CEO of Australian Wool Innovations body.[42]. A similar worded accusation in a 60 minutes interview that "They were blackmailed by you" was dismissed by PETA representative Ingrid Newkirk as "It doesn't matter" so long as "They are on board" (referring to PETA achieving its boycott goal).[43]

Other campaigns are hard-hitting and controversial. The 2003 Holocaust on your Plate exhibition,[44] consisted of eight 60-square-foot panels, each juxtaposing images of the Holocaust with images of factory farming. Photographs of concentration camp inmates in wooden bunks were shown next to photographs of caged chickens, and piled bodies of Holocaust victims next to a pile of pig carcasses. Captions alleged that "like the Jews murdered in concentration camps, animals are terrorized when they are housed in huge filthy warehouses and rounded up for shipment to slaughter. The leather sofa and handbag are the moral equivalent of the lampshades made from the skins of people killed in the death camps."[45]


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The creator of the campaign, Matt Prescott, who is Jewish and lost several relatives in the Holocaust, told The Guardian: "The very same mindset that made the Holocaust possible — that we can do anything we want to those we decide are 'different or inferior' — is what allows us to commit atrocities against animals every single day. ... The fact is, all animals feel pain, fear and loneliness. We're asking people to recognise that what Jews and others went through in the Holocaust is what animals go through every day in factory farms."[44] The project's website cited Jewish Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, who wrote of animals: "In relation to them, all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka."[46][47] The Jewish Anti-Defamation League denounced the campaign.[48] The chairman of the ADL, Abraham Foxman said the exhibition, was "outrageous, offensive and takes chutzpah to new heights ... The effort by Peta to compare the deliberate systematic murder of millions of Jews to the issue of animal rights is abhorrent."[44] PETA has since apologized for this campaign. In a statement to the ADL, Ingrid Newkirk said she realized that the campaign had caused pain: "This was never our intention, and we are deeply sorry."[49]

PETA has used Holocaust imagery before. A television public service announcement entitled "They Came for Us at Night," which aired on U.S. cable networks and in Warsaw, Poland, in July 2003, "showed the outside world through the slats of a boxcar and is narrated by a man (with an accent) who describes the plight of being transported with no food and water," according to the Anti-Defamation League, and drew an analogy between the plight of animals being transported to their deaths in cattle cars with Jews in the same situation during the Holocaust.[49] Newkirk has been quoted as saying "Six million Jews died in concentration camps, but six billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughterhouses."[50]

The organization was criticized again in 2003 when Newkirk sent a letter [51] to then-PLO leader Yasser Arafat in response to a Jerusalem bombing attack, in which a donkey was loaded with explosives and blown up.[52] After being "bombarded with calls," according to a PETA spokesperson, Newkirk asked Arafat to appeal to those involved in the attacks to keep animals out of the conflict. When criticized for involving herself on behalf of the non-human victims only, Newkirk told the Washington Post: "It's not my business to inject myself into human wars."[53] Regarding PETA's controversial campaigns, Newkirk has said:


Many of the campaigns bear fruit for PETA. Burger King,[54] McDonalds,[55] Wendy's,[56] Petco,[57] and in 2006, after talks with PETA, Polo Ralph Lauren announced that it would no longer use fur in any of its lines.[58]

Undercover investigationsEdit

One of PETA's primary aims is to document the treatment of animals in research laboratories and other facilities where animals are used. To achieve this, it sends its employees into laboratories, circuses, and onto farms, sometimes requiring them to spend many months undercover, filming and otherwise documenting their experiences.[59]

PETA does not itself engage in raids on facilities to free animals, but it receives and publicizes tapes recorded by the ALF during the latter's raids, arranging to meet with ALF activists to receive video footage and documentation, or having them forward it via a third party.[11] This practise has led to criticism, as the raids are sometimes violent and may involve the destruction of property, and there has been one allegation that PETA may have had advance knowledge of an attack. In 1995, during the trial of ALF activist Rod Coronado for an arson attack on Michigan State University, U.S. Attorney Michael Dettmer alleged in a sentencing memorandum that Ingrid Newkirk had arranged, "days before the MSU arson occurred," to have Coronado send her documents from the lab and a videotape of the raid.[60]


Many of PETA's investigations have led to legal action against the target companies. PETA conducted an undercover investigation of Covance, a drug development services company, from April 2003 until March 2004, obtaining video footage that a British judge called "highly disturbing."[61] The evidence, which PETA submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), appeared to show monkeys being hit, tormented, and humiliated.[62] According to PETA's website, Covance was subsequently fined for violations of the U.S. Animal Welfare Act based on PETA's documentation.[61] However, Covance was cleared of lab maltreatment charges in Germany, where the incident was filmed; Covance maintains that the footage was edited together to exaggerate evidence.[2]

Researchers working for PETA went undercover into Huntingdon Life Sciences, a contract animal-testing facility, in 1997, where they filmed staff beating dogs in the UK[23] and what appears to be abuse of monkeys in the company's Princeton, New Jersey, facility.[63] The employees were fired and HLS's licence in the UK was suspended. After the video footage aired on British television in 1999, a group of activists set up Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty with a view to closing HLS down, a campaign that is still ongoing.

In 1990, a Las Vegas entertainer lost his entertainment licence, as well as a later lawsuit against PETA, after the group filmed him beating orangutans. A North Carolina grand jury handed down indictments against pig-farm workers, the first indictments for animal cruelty within that industry, after they were filmed skinning a sow who was allegedly still conscious.[64] In 1985, the U.S. government suspended funding to the City of Hope biomedical research center in California over its alleged treatment of dogs, and East Carolina University agreed to stop using animals for classroom experiments after a PETA investigation.


In 1984, a 26-minute PETA film,[65] based on 60 hours of researchers' footage obtained by the Animal Liberation Front during a raid on the University of Pennsylvania's Head Injury Clinic, led to the suspension of funds from the university, the closure of the lab, the firing of the university's chief veterinarian, and a period of probation for the university. The footage was made by the researchers as part of a study that involved inflicting brain damage on 150 baboons using a hydraulic device intended to simulate whiplash. An independent investigation by the Office for Protection from Research Risks (OPRR) confirmed that there had been "extraordinarly serious violations" by the lab of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.[66]

PETA was criticized by the OPRR for having edited the film in a misleading way. Twenty-five errors were identified in Newkirk's voiceover, including a scene where she described an accidental liquid spill over a conscious baboon as an acid spill, with no evidence to suggest it was anything but water. The film also gave the impression that a scene involving the hydraulic equipment smashing against a baboon's head represented several baboons being damaged, whereas subsequent examination of the 60 hours of original footage showed that the same scene had been constantly repeated.[13]

PETA was also criticized in 1999 regarding undercover film it took inside the Carolina Biological Supply Company, which appeared to show wriggling cats being embalmed alive. Two veterinarians from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agreed that the cats appeared to have been alive at the time, and the video was introduced as evidence before a departmental hearing. An anatomist called by Carolina Biological's lawyer subsequently demonstrated that the wriggling may have been the effect of formalin on freshly dead muscle tissue, which causes muscle fibers to contract and move, and the case against the company was dismissed.[67]

Community Animal ProjectEdit

PETA has several programs helping cats and dogs in poorer areas of southeastern Virginia and northern North Carolina. It has spayed or neutered over 30,000[citation needed] cats and dogs for reduced price or for free in the last few years. The organization comes to the aid of neglected dogs and cats who are severely ill and injured, and pursues cruelty cases. They offer free humane euthanasia services to counties that kill unwanted animals via gassing or shooting. PETA also offers free euthanasia for severely ill/dying pets when euthanasia at a veterinarian is unaffordable. PETA paid for and built a cat shelter in a North Carolina county. Each year the organization builds and sets up hundreds of sturdy dog houses, with straw bedding, for dogs that are chained outside all winter. PETA also creates and airs numerous public service announcements and billboards urging people to help control the pet overpopulation through spaying/neutering, and adopting animals from shelters instead of purchasing cats and dogs from pet stores or breeders.[68][69]

Policy on euthanasiaEdit

PETA is against the no kill movement and euthanizes the majority of animals that are given to them.[70][71]. It recommends euthanasia for animals, for certain breeds of animals (e.g. pit bull terriers)[72] and in certain situations for unwanted animals in shelters: for example, for those living for long periods in cramped cages.[73][74] Ingrid Newkirk has said: "Our service is to provide a peaceful and painless death to animals who no one wants."[75] PETA recommends the use of an intravenous injection of sodium pentobarbital provided it is administered by a trained professional.[74]

Before founding PETA, Newkirk was chief of animal-disease control and director of the animal shelter in the District of Columbia.[72] During her time working in animal shelters, she said she would "go to work early, before anyone got there, and I would just kill the animals myself. Because I couldn't stand to let them go through ... [other workers abusing the animals]. I must have killed a thousand of them, sometimes dozens every day."[76] The organization says that it takes in feral cat colonies with diseases such as feline AIDS and leukemia, stray dogs, litters of parvo-infected puppies, and backyard dogs, and as such it would be unrealistic and unkind to operate a no-kill policy.[73] Newkirk has said: "It is a totally rotten business, but sometimes the only kind option for some animals is to put them to sleep forever."[77]


According to the Wally Swett, President of Primarily Primates, PETA killed 1,946 pets in its home state of Virginia in 2005, transferring or adopting out 215, and killed 141 wild animals in the same year, transferring or releasing 52.[78] In 2004, PETA killed 2278 animals while finding homes for 368 animals.[79] Columnist Debra J. Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle, quoting the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) data based on PETA's filing with the state of Virginia, has said that PETA killed over 10,000 animals from 1998 to 2003.[80]

In 1999, PETA took in 2,103 animals, of which 798 were either found new homes, were reclaimed by their owners or transferred to other facilities, while those remaining were euthanized.[81] During the years 2004 and 2005, PETA took in 20258 animals, of which 15438 were reclaimed by their owner. 4224 were euthanized, while 507 were adopted.[82][83] The San Francisco Chronicle reported in 1991 that after rescuing 18 rabbits and 14 roosters from a research facility,[80] PETA euthanized them because they didn't have the money to care for them.[84] This was questioned by critics in view of PETA's budget for that year which was over six million dollars.[85] Though PETA denied that such killings violated animal rights, US Congressman Vin Weber — founder of the Congressional Animal Welfare Caucus — doubted PETA's intentions highlighting the double standards employed in Silver Springs monkey case and the Aspin Hill killings.[86]

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 3–4 million dogs and cats are euthanized annually in the U.S. for a lack of homes.[87] PETA and other animal protection groups blame people who don’t spay and neuter their animals, and people who buy animals from breeders instead of adopting from shelters, for causing the animal overpopulation crisis.[88]

Animal euthanasia and criminal chargesEdit

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PETA was criticized in 2005 when police discovered that at least 80 animals had been euthanized and left in area dumpsters over the course of a month. Two PETA employees approached a dumpster in a van registered to PETA and left behind 18 dead animals. Thirteen more were found inside the van. The animals had been euthanized by the PETA employees immediately after taking them from shelters in Northampton and Bertie counties.[89] In a 2005 column in the San Francisco Chronicle, PETA’s director of the Domestic Animals Issues stated that PETA began euthanizing animals in some rural North Carolina shelters via painless injection after it found that the shelters were killing unwanted animals with rifles and dilapidated gas chambers, both of which they claim are inhumane ways to kill animals.[90] Officials from both counties said they were under the impression that the animals would be euthanized only if a home could not be found for them, and after being fully evaluated by a veterinarian. Both counties suspended their agreements with PETA after the incident.[91]

Among the bodies in the dumpster were a cat and two of her kittens, given to PETA by veterinarian Patrick Proctor of Ahoskie Animal Hospital. According to Proctor, the two kittens were very adoptable, and he said the PETA employees claimed they would have no trouble finding homes for them.[92][93][94] In an interview with CNN, Ingrid Newkirk said that Proctor — who himself carries out euthanasia on behalf of PETA — was not present when the kittens were removed and was therefore not in a position to know what PETA's employees had said. Newkirk added that it was unlikely the employees said they could find homes for the animals, given that the veterinarian's assistant handed the animals to PETA precisely because she knew homes could not be found. "If the veterinarian couldn't find homes for a few kittens and a cat, which is surprising, if they have clients coming in, then that's why they called us, because they know we don't have a magic wand either," Newkirk told CNN. [93]

PETA condemned the dumping as against their policy, and suspended one of the employees involved for 90 days. Police charged the two employees with 31 felony counts of animal cruelty and eight misdemeanor counts of illegal disposal of dead animals. [95] In October, these charges were dropped, and replaced with 42 combined counts of animal cruelty, and 3 counts of "obtaining property under false pretense". [96][97] In the trial, which began on January 22, 2007, [98] both workers were acquitted of all charges, including animal cruelty charges, except a misdemeanor count for improper disposing of the euthanized animals. [3]

In May 2007, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) started investigations of how PETA handles euthanasia drugs.[99] According to the DEA, PETA could face fines or sanctions against its license if it finds any wrongdoing, while gross mishandling of drugs could lead to criminal charges.

Conflicts with other activistsEdit


PETA has been the target of criticism by other animal rights advocates.

John "J.P." Goodwin, founder of the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade, argues that some of PETA's campaigns are detrimental to the credibility of the animal rights movement: "some people have positioned the movement as flaky, based on silly claims and goofy stunts. It's time to say no to pie throwing, manure dumping, and naked models, and get back to talking about animals."[100]

PETA's "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" campaign has generated criticism from feminists for objectifying the female body. In response to an ad campaign in which Patti Davis posed naked with Hugh Hefner's dog, Batya Bauman, director of Feminists for Animal Rights, asserts that "PETA has now escalated the tactic into pornography and got themselves into bed with Hugh Hefner and Playboy magazine." She added that PETA "severely overstepped the boundaries of respect toward women."[101] Carol J. Adams, a prominent feminist and animal rights advocate, objected to PETA's campaign saying "I don't liberate animals over the bodies of women" and "I think the further insult was the celebration of PETA's alliance with Playboy by having a jointly sponsored event last summer, at which Patti Davis was featured. I'm glad she gave some of her money to PETA. But like Catharine MacKinnon, I'm not sure reparations money is the way we go about changing the status of women. I abhor the alliance of any animal advocacy with pornography."[102]

Conflicts with wildlife conservation personalitiesEdit

PETA is critical of those they call "self-professed wildlife warriors", television personalities such as Jack Hanna, Jim Fowler and Steve Irwin, who worked with animals on television. They argue that while those "wildlife exhibitors" express a conservationist message that is often right on target, some of their actions, such as invading animals' homes, netting them, subjecting them to stressful environments, and sometimes wrestling with them and provoking them are harmful to the animals they claim to protect. Those actions often involve babies which they say should be with their mothers.[103] The conflict between PETA and those personalities came to a head in 2006, when PETA's vice-president Dan Mathews stated that Steve Irwin, had "made a career out of antagonizing frightened wild animals, which is a very dangerous message to send to kids," adding "If you compare him with a responsible conservationist like Jacques Cousteau, he looks like a cheap reality TV star."[104] This prompted criticism from Australian Member of Parliament Bruce Scott who told his federal parliament that PETA should apologise to Steve Irwin's family and the rest of Australia.[105]

Position on animal testingEdit

Template:Rquote In 2005, a coalition of advocates for AIDS patients launched a campaign assailing PETA for its opposition to using animals to test possible AIDS drugs and calling on PETA's celebrity supporters to account for their high-profile role in what they described as "hindering the search for a cure to AIDS."[106] PETA vice-president Dan Mathews responded that: "AIDS is an easy disease to avoid, but our government squanders millions on duplicative animal tests, rather than issue frank warnings, especially to young people." Dr. Genevieve Clavreul, the coalition's organizer, expressed concern that in order to find an AIDS vaccine "We are going to have to go to an animal model to do it and I don’t want to have to be fighting every five minutes against PETA."[107] In a letter, the Patient Advocates Against PETA, observed that PETA President Ingrid Newkirk made a statement that even if animal research produced a cure for AIDS, "we'd be against it."[106] PETA's support for embryonic stem cell research primarily because has "the potential to end the vast majority of animal testing" has come under attack as being self-contradictory to its position, that all species are equal, since it puts one animal species (humans) to be "preferentially sacrificed to save another" and that PETA exhalts "animal life in trivial ways, while simultaneously devaluing human life to the point where it’s worthless."[108]


PETA received donations from the public of over $25 million for the year ending July 31, 2005, according to the group's audited financial statement. Nearly 85 percent of its operating budget was spent directly on its programs; 10.83 percent on fundraising efforts; and 4.18 percent on management and general operations. Regarding its employees, 53 percent earned between $14,560 and $27,999; 32 percent between $28,000 and $38,499; and 15 percent over $38,500. Ingrid Newkirk earned $32,000 from her PETA position during that year.[109] Charity Navigator notes that others holding Vice President of Campaigns posts like Dan Matthews et al. were drawing remunerations up to $72,488.[110]

There have also been criticism over PETA's finances, with many questioning its nonprofit, tax exempt status, because its "leaders and personnel have been involved in criminal activities", according to the foundation Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise (CDFE).[111] The United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has also pointed to these terrorist links by showing tax return claims for funding terrorist organizations.[112] Steven P Kendall, Vice President, Animal Husbandry Society, also corraborates this, stating that the majority of the donations are spent on fundraising, administrative costs and salaries[113] The BBB Wise Giving Alliance in its evaluation of PETA observed that it does not meet a couple of Charity Accountability standards.[114]

Other campaignsEdit

Anti-fur campaignsEdit

Two long-running campaigns are "Here's the rest of your fur coat,"[4] and "I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur," in which supermodels appeared nude to express their opposition to wearing fur.[41] Singers Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Shirley Manson have posed for this cause. In May 2006, they held a naked protest near St Paul's Cathedral in London to highlight the use of real bear fur in the Bearskins used by the Foot Guards.[5]

PETA severed its relationship with some of the models when they continued to wear fur. In 1997, Naomi Campbell wore a fur coat during a Milan fashion show after appearing in a 'Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur' advertisement.[115] Other models PETA has ended its relationship with are Kate Moss and Cindy Crawford.[116]

PETA has held notable public protests in London and Hong Kong against Burberry's use of fur in some of its products.[117]

Lettuce LadiesEdit

The 'Lettuce Ladies' are women, some of them Playboy models, who appear publicly in bikinis made to look like lettuce leaves, and distribute information about the vegan diet. [6] There is a lesser-known male counterpart to the Lettuce Ladies, called the Broccoli Boys. [7]

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)Edit

Template:See also PETA has a major campaign targeting Kentucky Fried Chicken that has included more than 10,000 demonstrations worldwide and claimed support from the Dalai Lama (although the Dalai Lama later declared he was misrepresented by PETA because he did not intend to specifically address Richard Novak). [8]), Al Sharpton, Paul McCartney, Dick Gregory, Tommy Lee, and Bring Me The Horizon among others. PETA has requested that KFC require that its suppliers adopt the welfare recommendations of KFC's own animal welfare committee, including stopping the breaking of birds' limbs and drowning conscious birds in tanks of scalding water. [9] PETA shot video footage at a slaughterhouse in Moorefield, West Virginia, and posted the footage on PETA's website. KFC is PETA's fourth fast food target for alleged animal cruelty, after campaigns against McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's.



The group regularly protests circuses that use animals. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is a frequent target of PETA's allegations of abuse. PETA asked a number of mayors to pass legislation banning items used to train elephants from cities the circus was due to visit. In one specific case, PETA asked that "bullhooks, electric prods and other devices that inflict pain on, or cause injury to, elephants" be banned, after the animal care director of the Carson & Barnes Circus, Tim Frisco, was filmed allegedly attacking elephants with bullhooks and electric prods.[10][118] PETA's videotape of one of Frisco's training sessions allegedly shows him attacking elephants with steel-tipped bullhooks, shocking them with electric prods, and shouting "Make 'em scream!"[118] The elephants are shown screaming and recoiling in pain, according to PETA.[119]

Comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory recorded a public service announcement, urging people to boycott circuses that use animals in what he calls "modern-day slavery."[120]

In response to PETA's request, Mayor Rod DesJardins of Munising, Michigan, called the organization "radical extremists with a bizarre philosophy that considers the life of an insect equal to the life of a human being." [11]. One of these ad campaigns was promoted by Indian actress Shilpa Shetty (pictured).

Religious compassionEdit

In its Web site, PETA makes an argument that Christian values of compassion extend to all living creatures and are inconsistent with cruelty to animals. It then promotes vegetarianism based on that argument.[121] It has a Muslim counterpart as well,, using Sunni hadith to justify veganism.

Name changes of citiesEdit

PETA regularly asks towns and cities whose names in its view are suggestive of animal exploitation to change their names. In April 2003, they offered free veggie burgers to the city of Hamburg, New York, in exchange for changing its name to Veggieburg; the town declined the offer. PETA also campaigned in 1996 to have the town of Fishkill, New York, change its name, claiming the name suggests cruelty to fish. (The root "kill", found in many New York town names, is Dutch for "creek".) In October 2003, the group urged the town of Rodeo, California, to change its name because it invokes images of the sport of rodeo, which they claim is harmful to animals. As a replacement name, they suggested Unity, an acknowledgment of Union Oil's role in saving the area economically in the late 19th century. PETA offered to donate $20,000 worth of veggie burgers to local schools if the name was changed. The town declined.

Youth OutreachEdit


The group runs a website geared towards children at[122] with contests, online games, online videos, comics, songs that are supportive of PETA's causes, and a free subscription to Grrr! Magazine, over 500,000 copies of which were distributed in 2005.[123] The website also provides an e-News list.[124]

PETA teamed up with bands such as Deftones, STUN, and Further Seems Forever to record commercials on a variety of topics, including reporting animal abuse. The youth-oriented web site featured over 50 interviews from bands such as Yellowcard, The Shins, The Used, and Good Charlotte. PETA’s efforts were covered by MTV, Rolling Stone, AP, and Revolver.

PETA2 dispatched supporters on 61 summer concert and skateboard tours including the Warped, Phish, Taste of Chaos, and Morrissey tours. At these events, PETA screened the Meet Your Meat video and disseminated information.

Animal Liberation ProjectEdit

The 2005 "Are Animals the New Slaves?" campaign [125] featured a display in which images of oppressed minorities, including black slaves, Indians, child laborers, and women, were juxtaposed with those of chained elephants and slaughtered cows. [126] The campaign was criticized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, [12] and PETA agreed to suspend it. [13]

Your Daddy Kills AnimalsEdit

File:Your Daddy Kills Animals.png

The organization has been criticized for distributing graphic pamphlets to children. According to PETA's website,[127] the pamphlets are geared toward making parents aware of how their actions affect their children. One pamphlet, addressing the wearing of fur, was headlined "Your Mommy Kills Animals"[128], and featured a cartoon of a mother slicing a knife into a rabbit's stomach. Another pamphlet, "Your Daddy Kills Animals!"[129] showed a cartoon father gutting a fish, and stated: "Since your daddy is teaching you the wrong lessons about right and wrong, you should teach him fishing is killing. Until your daddy learns it's not fun to kill, keep your doggies and kitties away from him. He's so hooked on killing defenseless animals, they could be next."

Dairy campaignsEdit

As part of an effort to reduce milk consumption, PETA created the "Got Beer?" campaign, a parody of the Got Milk? campaign. The advertisements urged college students to "wipe off those milk moustaches and replace them with. . . foam." Mothers Against Drunk Driving and college officials of campuses targeted by the campaign complained that the campaign encouraged underage drinking. As a result of the criticism, PETA halted the campaign in March 2000.[130] In 2002, the effort to promote beer over milk was revived by PETA after a two year hiatus.[131]


Following the removal of the beer campaign, PETA launched a new effort aimed at teenagers. The new campaign attempted to place advertisements in highschool newspapers and printed trading cards claiming that dairy products caused acne, obesity, heart disease, cancer, and strokes.[132] A similar campaign in the UK was ordered by the Advertising Standards Authority to discontinue claims it made about milk consumption in a campaign aimed at school children, concluding that the campaign "played on children's anxieties and were likely to cause some children undue fear and distress."[133] Following the injunction, PETA revamped their trading cards in order to continue the effort.[134] Their website though, still makes the same claims regarding adverse health effects.

Running of the NudesEdit

Every year, naked PETA activists, wearing red scarves and bull horns, take to the streets of Pamplona two days before the city's annual "Running of the Bulls" in protest at the tradition, which sees bulls goaded by the crowd. Over 1,000 activists took part in 2006.[135]


Many videos have been made by PETA about animal cruelty, among these the most famous is "Meet your meat" which is a documentary showing video footage of animal abuse and graphic scenes of animals being slaughtered. Their productions have no copyright agreement, leading to the videos being made available freely online on a number of video download sites.

Domain name disputesEdit

In February 1996 a parody website calling itself "People Eating Tasty Animals" registered the domain name The site contained links to other sites advocating the consumption of meat, the use of leather and animal furs, and promoting the benefits of animal experimentation in medical research.[136] In response to the site, PETA filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the website creator and Network Solutions, the company that issued the domain name, that resulted in PETA gaining control of the domain name.[137] A PETA spokesperson said that "the people who are doing this are the lowest of the low. We can't help but be amused that we are so threatening to people like this that they would go to so much trouble as to steal away our name."[138]

While still in the legal proceedings over "," PETA registered the domains and, using the sites to highlight the cruelty that they say Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Vogue were guilty of. PETA later surrendered the domains under threat of legal action over trademark infringement.[139][140]


Template:POV-section Actions and events in PETA's history include:[141][142][143][144]

  • organized a march on the capitol building in Washington D.C. to mark World Day for Animals in Laboratories.
  • PETA's undercover investigation of a primate laboratory in Silver Spring, Maryland, resulted in the first suspension of federal research funds for alleged cruelty, and the first animal-rights related case to be heard by the United States Supreme Court. (See Silver Spring monkeys.)
  • released video footage shot at the University of Pennsylvania head-injury laboratory, showing the alleged treatment of primates there. The Secretary of Health and Human Services subsequently cut off all funding to the laboratory and the experiments were stopped.
  • a Texas slaughterhouse to which 30,000 horses were taken each year from all over the United States, then allegedly left to starve outside without shelter, was closed after a PETA campaign.
  • revealed details of the treatment of dogs at the City of Hope laboratory in California. The government fined the center $11,000 and suspended more than $1,000,000 in federal funding.
  • stopped the total-isolation confinement of chimpanzees at a Maryland research laboratory called SEMA.
  • stopped a plan by Cedars-Sinai, California's largest hospital, to ship stray dogs from Mexico into California for experiments.
  • launched the Compassion Campaign to fight cosmetics and personal-care product testing on animals. By 1989, PETA had persuaded nearly 500 companies to abandon such practices.
  • video shot inside East Carolina University and distributed by PETA showed an allegedly inadequately anesthetized dog undergoing surgery during a classroom exercise. The university subsequently declared a moratorium on the use of live animals.
  • exposed the beating of orangutans by Las Vegas entertainer Bobby Berosini, who used the primates in a nightclub act. His captive-bred wildlife permit was suspended by the U.S. Department of the Interior, and his show closed. Four years later, the Nevada Supreme Court unanimously ruled in PETA’s favor and overturned a Las Vegas jury’s $3.2 million defamation award to Berosini.
  • PETA made a $2,000 contribution to the defense of David Wilson , and $5,000 contribution to the "Josh Harper Support Committee." Both these individuals were on trial for eco-terrorist activities.
  • succeeded in persuading Estée Lauder and 40 other companies to halt animal testing with its Caring Consumer Campaign.
  • U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected PETA's petition for custody of Titus and Allen, two of the monkeys in the Silver Spring monkeys case. The pair were killed within hours of the ruling by Tulane University's Delta Regional Primate Center.[145]
  • called attention to the details of U.S. foie gras production, documenting the gavage (force-feeding) of geese. Police subsequently conducted the first raid on a factory farm in the United States.
  • testified at the first U.S. congressional hearing on the use of animals in circuses, rodeos, films, and other types of entertainment.
  • General Motors gave PETA a statement of assurance that it had ended the use of live pigs and baboons in crash tests after a PETA campaign.
  • L'Oréal, the world’s largest cosmetics company, signed a worldwide ban on animal testing, following a PETA campaign.
  • PETA revealed details of scabies experiments using dogs and rabbits at Wright State University. The university was subsequently charged with violating the Animal Welfare Act, and the experiments ended.
  • PETA gave over $70,000 toward the failed legal defense of ALFer Rodney Coronado, who was sentenced to 57 months in prison for torching a Michigan State University research facility
  • Buckshire Corporation, a laboratory animal breeding facility, was charged with violations of the Animal Welfare Act after a 38-page complaint was submitted by PETA.
  • A furrier was charged with cruelty to animals following the release of PETA videotapes showing a California fur rancher allegedly electrocuting a chinchilla by clipping wires to the animal’s genitals. It was the first time in U.S. history that a furrier was charged with cruelty, although charges were later dropped.
  • a North Carolina grand jury handed down the first-ever felony cruelty indictments against pig-farm workers after an undercover PETA investigator videotaped workers beating lame pigs with wrenches, and skinning and dismembering a conscious pig.
  • successfully campaigned for 11 months against McDonalds to implement more stringent welfare standards.
  • launched a campaign against Burger King. After months of vocal public pressure, the fast-food giant agreed to implement the welfare standards demanded by PETA. These standards increased the amount of cage space given to laying hens and promised unannounced inspections of slaughterhouses, among other things. [14] [15]
  • launched an unsuccessful campaign to have the University of South Carolina change its mascot from the Gamecock. The group contended that the name promoted cock fighting, but the school stood firm and kept the mascot name, saying that cock fighting had not been legal in South Carolina for more than a century, and the mascot was a representation of the fighting power of a gamecock, not indicative of any promotion of cockfighting.
  • released video of shechita (kosher slaughter) at the AgriProcessors slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, showing cattle surviving for minutes after slaughter with their tracheae and esophagi dangling from their throats and some of them even standing up with their throats slit. [16] A subsequent USDA investigation found that AgriProcessors had "engaged in acts of inhumane slaughter", and that "FSIS (Food Safety Inspection Service) employees observed the acts of inhumane slaughter and did nothing to stop the practice".[146]
  • two PETA workers each charged with 31 counts of animal cruelty an 8 counts of illegal disposal of dead animals.[147]
  • sued Feld Entertainment (producer of Ringling circus and Disney on ice) saying Feld ran a spying operation on the PETA organization run by an ex-CIA employee with the intent to harm or destroy PETA. [17] After nine hours of deliberation on March 15, 2006, a Fairfax County, Virginia, jury found that Ringling Bros. did not harm or conspire against PETA, and the case was dismissed. [18]
  • persuaded J. Crew[148] and Polo Ralph Lauren[149] not to sell fur. They also persuaded Welch's to end animal testing.[150]
  • placed the winning bid for an eBay auction that offered fans a chance to dine with singer Beyoncé Knowles. PETA members posing as fans confronted her about the use of fur in her clothing line.[151]
  • persuaded Ocean Spray and Tahitan Noni to drop animal tests.
  • wrote to Merriam-Webster, asking them to change the definition of "circus" that they publish in their dictionary. "PETA’s proposal defines a circus as a 'spectacle that relies on captive animals' who are 'forced to perform tricks under the constant threat of punishment.' It also wants the definition to say that 'modern circuses include only willing human performers.'"[152] Merriam-Webster has not edited its definition.
  • bought shares in Wal-Mart, Safeway, Kroger, Tyson Foods, Costco, and several others, in an effort to use its shareholder position to force animal-welfare reform on the companies. [19]
  • began a campaign against Six Flags Great America to stop a contest where guests eat a live cockroach for a "Flash Pass" during the park's Fright Fest event.
  • claimed to persuade Raley's grocery stores to end the selling of live lobsters. Raley's denied PETA's claim and stated the action "was a business decision to not repeat" a holiday promotion.[153]
  • claimed to persuade POM Wonderful to stop funding animal tests after a few months of campaigning. During PETA's boycott of POM products another animal rights group threatened to tamper with 487 bottles of POM juice, prompting POM products to be pulled from store shelves. POM has refused to sign a PETA petition to not perform animal testing in the future and PETA has not called off the boycott.[154]
  • claimed to persuade Giant Eagle grocery stores to end the selling of foie gras. Giant Eagle denied the action was due to PETA's actions and instead claimed the decision was due to concerns about shelf space, sales trends, and seasonal availability.[155]

Cultural influencesEdit

  • South Park lampooned PETA in its episode Douche and Turd in which a local activist group protests the use of a cow as a school mascot. Later in the episode a protester throws blood on a 3rd grader. The episode makes claims that PETA does not care about humans, only animals, and that PETA members interbreed and intermarry with animals to produce human-animal hybrid offspring. Mr. Garrison complains about the school being "attacked by eco-terrorists for the forty-seventh time."
  • An episode of Penn & Teller's television show, Bullshit! (Episode: Season 2, 2004, 20-1, "PETA.", April 1, 2004, Focus: PETA. and the Animal Liberation Front), was devoted to criticism of PETA.
  • The Simpsons shows Lisa Simpson joining PETA in the episode, G.I. (Annoyed Grunt).

See also Edit




External linksEdit



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