PETA's Vital Work
We believe that animals have an intrinsic worth of their own, quite apart from their utility to humans, and should not be treated as commodities. Therefore, PETA’s motto is “Animals are not ours to experiment on, eat, wear, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.”
Not Ours to Experiment on
PETA has halted more animal experiments than all other animal advocacy groups put together.
In 2020, PETA achieved these milestones:
- We persuaded Bayer, Bristol Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer to stop using the meaningless forced swim test, in which terrified animals paddle frantically in inescapable beakers of water to keep from drowning. To date, we’ve persuaded 14 companies—including seven of the top 10 pharmaceutical giants—to ban this test.
- After working with PETA, Avon Products, Inc., stopped all tests on animals everywhere in the world, and Suave, Aussie, and Secret joined our list of companies and brands (now totaling more than 4,800) that don’t test on animals.
- We persuaded major companies—including Dole Food Company, Ball Corporation, Barry Callebaut, Strauss Group, Ingredion Incorporated, and Takasago International Corporation—to stop conducting, funding, or commissioning animal experiments.
- We released the results of an undercover investigation into the Cleveland Clinic, from which we rescued three rat sisters, revealing the plight of mice living with their skulls partially removed and bred to develop prolapsed organs in taxpayer-funded experiments.
- PETA scientists wrote and distributed a detailed report—“The Research Modernization Deal”—to all federal health-research agencies explaining how and why to redirect funds from useless animal experimentation to humane research methods that hold real promise.
- We released “Test Subjects,” a searing documentary that profiles three scientists who learned from experience that animal experimentation impedes good science.
- Our public records lawsuits against the University of Massachusetts–Amherst (UMass) and Oregon Health & Science University resulted in the disclosure of video footage of taxpayer-funded experiments that involve deliberately terrifying monkeys and intentionally driving them insane from confinement. The institutions are squirming under the resulting media spotlight, and the UMass experimenter stopped tormenting monkeys and retired.
- In a pioneering First Amendment lawsuit, we forced Texas A&M University to stop blocking Facebook comments that criticize the school’s cruel, useless muscular dystrophy experiments on dogs. It also had to pay our legal fees.
- After consulting with PETA, Bolivian engineers validated a new type of ventilator for use on COVID-19 patients by using a human simulator instead of testing it on pigs. PETA is the largest member of the PETA International Science Consortium Ltd., which funded research resulting in the creation of an antitoxin produced without using animals that could be commercially developed to treat diphtheria. The Science Consortium also helped fund the development of EpiAlveolar—a first-of-its-kind, human cell–based model of the deepest part of the lungs—and led the development of an international guidance document on using non-animal methods for studying the effects of chemicals without forcing animals to inhale them.
We especially thank Pamela Anderson, James Cromwell, Bill Maher, Anjelica Huston, Kevin Nealon, Evanna Lynch, Will Poulter, and Iggy Pop for helping us draw attention to the cruelty and wastefulness of experiments on animals.
Not Ours to Eat
PETA makes vegan eating easy and popular and is wiping out the market for flesh, eggs, and milk obtained through the control of animals’ bodies, freedom, and reproduction.
In 2020, PETA seized every opportunity to drive home the fact that the ways animals are raised and killed for food can cause the spread of diseases such as SARS, MERS, swine flu, avian flu, HIV, and COVID-19. We publicized the filthy conditions in New York City’s live-animal markets (aka “wet markets”) and released exposés of similar markets in six countries, each like a petri dish in which frightened monkeys, birds, dogs, pigs, cats, and other animals cowered in feces-covered cages and floors were slick with blood, guts, and fetid water. We ran full-page ads in major newspapers about the fact that deadly pathogens flourish everywhere that sick and stressed animals are crowded together and that the next pandemic could arise from U.S. factory farms. We bought billboards around the country; held eye-catching demonstrations at the White House, the World Health Organization, and elsewhere; bought stock in leading meat companies to leverage our request that they switch to vegan meat production; and much more. These actions grabbed international headlines while urging consumers to keep animal-derived products off their plates.
A PETA Asia investigation revealed that in Thailand, monkeys—many of whom are illegally abducted from their homes in nature—are forced to pick coconuts. They are kept chained and isolated and are driven insane by captivity and deprivation. PETA and our affiliates have since persuaded Walgreens Boots Alliance to stop selling coconut food and beverage products of Thai origin in its 9,027 Walgreens and 250 Duane Reade stores; Costco and Cost Plus World Market to stop selling Chaokoh products (a brand that uses monkey labor); and Giant Food, Food Lion, Stop & Shop, and Hannaford to avoid knowingly selling any products involving monkey labor.
Among PETA’s other accomplishments in 2020 were helping to get critical provisions of North Carolina’s “ag-gag” law declared unconstitutional; exposing the abuse of hens by a Walmart egg supplier; persuading Dairy Queen, Denny’s, Mooyah, and other restaurant chains to add vegan options; persuading Panera Bread and Pret a Manger to nix their vegan milk surcharge; exposing violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act at dozens of U.S. slaughterhouses; and helping to get the sale of foie gras banned in New York City.
PETA lit up social media and newsfeeds around the world with pro-vegan ads, eye-catching demonstrations, and other creative actions. Among others, we thank Paul McCartney, Joaquin Phoenix, Patricia Manterola, Cam Newton, Alan Cumming, Alba Flores, Alicia Silverstone, Angela Means, Mark Rylance, Edie Falco, Nikkolas Smith, Jermaine Dupri, Pinky Cole, Mayim Bialik, Cory Booker, Tabitha Brown, Mena Massoud, Grey, Ava Duvernay, Belinda Carlisle, and Elizabeth Turner who all helped us draw massive media attention to the suffering of animals used for food.
Not Ours to Wear
We’re pushing society to evolve past the speciesist era of reducing living, feeling beings to sweaters, watchbands, and shoes.
As revealed in a landmark PETA investigation of the alpaca trade in Peru—the world’s top alpaca fleece producer—alpacas screamed and vomited in fear as their legs were nearly wrenched out of their sockets while workers tied them to devices that resemble medieval torture racks and roughly sheared them, leaving many with bloody wounds. We have since persuaded numerous companies—including UNIQLO (the world’s third-largest clothing retailer), Columbia Sportswear Company, Esprit, and Overstock.com—to ban alpaca.
After hearing from PETA, NARS Cosmetics and Kugo— the parent company of RoyalShave, Pomades, and TheStache.com—banned badger hair, joining nearly 100 brands worldwide that have rejected an industry that forces badgers to live in cramped, wire cages until workers finally bludgeon them and slit their throats.
Following discussions with PETA, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Nordstrom, and Jil Sander confirmed that they’ve stopped using exotic skins—sparing countless alligators, crocodiles, ostriches, kangaroos, lizards, and snakes immense suffering. We also helped stop the sale and import of certain exotic skins in California.
Following appeals from PETA, Macy’s, the Karl Lagerfeld brand, Rebecca Minkoff, Global Brands Group, Simons, and Nordstrom announced that they were going fur-free and Sephora, Velour, Dermstore, Fashion Nova, Lurella Cosmetics, Coco Mink Lashes, and GladGirl banned mink-fur eyelashes. A PETA-backed bill was signed into law in California, banning fur sales in that state. As a result of discussions with PETA, Awake Watches confirmed that it had stopped stocking leather watchstraps, the American Red Cross pledged to replace leather gloves in its kits with leather-free ones, and Ford Motor Company launched its first all-vegan SUV model.
With the release of PETA’s exposé of Bare Ranch—a Nevada sheep farm that claims to produce wool using “sustainable” methods with “respect” for animals—millions of consumers learned that these buzzwords don’t protect sheep from incurring bloody wounds and being shoved, hit, jabbed, or kicked. PETA’s 13th wool industry exposé broke with news of a shearer pleading guilty to cruelty-to-animals in Australia (the evidence for which PETA Asia supplied) in the same week that a Scottish farmer was convicted of cruelty for punching sheep—as revealed, again, in a PETA Asia investigation. PETA and our international affiliates have now documented cruelty to sheep at 116 operations on four continents.
Not Ours to Use for Entertainment
In 2020, PETA achieved these stunning victories for animals used for entertainment:
- We released an investigation revealing that the South African Million Dollar Pigeon Race causes so much suffering that more than 4,200 of the 5,000 pigeon entered in the 2020 race died or were lost before finishing.
- After years of work by PETA, a Virginia roadside zoo owner was charged with 46 counts of cruelty to animals after officials seized more than 100 animals who were denied appropriate care, including water and shelter.
- We helped get the exhibitor license of Hugo Liebel—abuser of ailing elephant Nosey— terminated, got Nosey confiscated from him and sent to a sanctuary, and made sure that he lost all his appeals to get her back.
- Following PETA’s vigorous actions, young Thoroughbreds at major U.S. racetracks raced without the controversial drug Lasix for the first time ever.
- Following pressure from PETA, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission implemented rules to prevent horses from running while injured.
- As a result of our pressure, SeaWorld will no longer make trainers surf on dolphins’ backs and stand on their faces.
- As a result of a PETA lawsuit, Dade City’s Wild Things (DCWT)—a seedy Florida roadside zoo—was permanently banned from possessing endangered tigers. It subsequently shut down. The court’s ruling affirms that prematurely separating tiger cubs from their mothers and forcing them into public encounters are violations of the Endangered Species Act.
- We got the Tri-State Zoological Park of Western Maryland (Tri- State Zoo) banned from possessing endangered or threatened species.
- To date, PETA has freed 75 big cats and 73 bears from desolate roadside zoos or decrepit backyard cages. This year’s rescues include an ailing Asiatic black bear saved from life in a cramped cage at a Pennsylvania shooting range, a lion and two tigers from the Tri-State Zoo, and all the tigers remaining at DCWT. All are thriving at accredited, bucolic sanctuaries.
- In victories against two notorious big-cat exploiters, a PETA Foundation attorney helped get “Tiger King” Joe Exotic sentenced to 22 years in prison in part for killing five tigers, and we won our lawsuit against Tim Stark, which may sound the death knell for the cub-petting industry. As a result of the lawsuit, 25 big cats were rescued. His federal exhibitor’s license was also permanently revoked.
- After decades of work by PETA, no more chimpanzees are being used in Hollywood films or television.
- We published a follow-up exposé showing that despite supposed reforms, donkeys and mules continue to suffer from wounds and severe thirst in the burning sun while hauling tourists on the Greek island of Santorini.
We thank Alec Baldwin, Tommy Lee, Minka Kelly, Dulce María, Miguel Bernardeau, Cassie Randolph, Joanna Krupa, and Fiona Oakes, among others, for supporting our campaigns against the exploitation of animals for entertainment.
Not Ours to Abuse in Any Other Way
Our Emergency Response Team received more than 240 reports of cruelty every week in 2020 from all over the U.S. and abroad. We ensured that animals in danger were rushed to safety, harmful policies were changed, and abusers faced legal consequences. Cases included getting emaciated dogs confiscated from a Pennsylvania breeder who kept them housed in filth, forcing a Florida construction company to relocate gopher tortoises before destroying their habitat, ending the sale of live frogs at a Colorado supermarket, and providing forensic research that helped lead to charges against a British Columbia man who filmed himself torturing and drowning hamsters.
PETA spearheaded the passage of a Virginia law that bans the tethering of dogs outside in severe weather. We also helped pass ordinances that ban unattended tethering altogether in Newport News, Virginia, and Halifax County, North Carolina. PETA’s fieldworkers are out every day, despite the coronavirus pandemic, in impoverished regions where animal protection services are scarce or non-existent. Here are just three of the many animals we rescued in 2020:
- Bea, a miniature horse, hadn’t received hoof, dental, or veterinary care for at least six years. We persuaded her owner to part with her, found her a fantastic home in New Mexico, and transported her there (which was no small feat during the pandemic).
- Ziggy, a poodle mix, had lived his whole life in solitary confinement outdoors chained to a cinder block. We rescued him, and now his new family calls him “the best boy in the world” and lets him claim all the furniture in their house as a “Ziggy bed.”
- Capone, a miniature pinscher, was alternately caged or tethered on a deck surrounded by his own waste, living outdoors 24/7 with almost no shelter. With much persistence, we were able to rescue him and place him with a family who adores him.
We provided families whose incomes were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with basic companion animal necessities and gave away hundreds of bags of dog and cat food. With immediate adoption of coronavirus safety measures, our mobile spay/neuter clinics never stopped their crucial work.
Following pressure from PETA, an illegal turtle dealer’s operation in Virginia was shut down and he was convicted for crimes against wildlife and an Ohio chinchilla farm where chinchillas’ eyes were crusted shut and they had embedded collars and open wounds was permanently shuttered.
Other victories include persuading Walmart to stop selling live fish and Publishers Clearing House to stop selling vile glue traps.
We enlisted the help of Ariadne Díaz, Ozzy Osbourne, Raúl de Molina, Carol Burnett, Ana María Polo, Tyrann Mathieu, Jencarlos Canela, Brian Cox, Nicole Williams-English, Tinsley Mortimer, and Clarissa Molina in our anti-cruelty campaigns.
The Next Generation
Our youth division is the number one force galvanizing young people to reject the speciesist status quo and change the future for animals.
In 2020, we launched Students Opposing Speciesism (SOS)—a PETA-backed revolt led by high school and college students who are challenging human-supremacist norms. SOS mentors young activists and supplies them with kits to compel action for animals in the most effective ways possible. Students are now leading more than 100 SOS hubs composed of nearly 1,000 members throughout the U.S. and Canada, and new members are joining every week.
Thousands of students from preschool through high school devoured PETA’s message, including through vegan cooking demonstrations for health and culinary arts classes, classroom presentations (both in person and via webcam) on ending speciesism, and donations of children’s books to schools, libraries, and low-income families served by our mobile veterinary clinics. PETA leveraged the massively popular social media influencer convention Playlist Live to spread the animal rights message. Thousands of attendees took our literature and posted photos and videos of themselves escaping our blow-up “fishbowl” prop to support our campaign urging SeaWorld to free the animals imprisoned in its tanks.
PETA’s Campus Rep network—the largest student leadership program of any animal protection organization—had a huge impact, with powerful actions taken at 89 colleges from coast to coast. Students hosted vegan food giveaways on campus and in areas affected by natural disasters, protested the use of fur and down by Canada Goose, drew school administrators’ attention to the link between animal agriculture and climate change, got vegan options (even an entirely vegan café) added to campus dining facilities, stopped schools from hosting animal circuses, organized animal rights demonstrations in their communities, helped get student legislation passed restricting animal exhibits on campus, and campaigned to end Starbucks’ vegan milk surcharge.
More than 18,000 elementary school students were riveted by stories presented (both in person and via the internet) by our animatronic ambassadors, Ellie the elephant and Carly the cow, about the ways circuses and the dairy industry harm animals.
TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—provided more than 89,000 teachers with guidance and resources to help students develop empathy for all beings, gave awards to outstanding educators who excel in this regard, presented online lessons for homebound students during the pandemic lockdown, and launched “Challenging Assumptions”—a social justice curriculum kit designed to inspire high school students to recognize and question the systemic “othering” of individuals whose species, race, gender, sexual identity, age, or ability is different from their own. We also worked with leading surgical training model manufacturer SynDaver to help fund and develop a hyper-realistic, dissectible synthetic frog, SynFrog™. This will prevent students from being desensitized to animal exploitation and frogs from being killed.