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People for the ethical treatment of animals. With 1.6 million members they are the largest animal rights group in the world. The organization is very controversial.



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 1.6 million members and supporters, PETA claims to be the largest animal rights group in the world.

Founded in 1980 and based in Norfolk, Virginia, PETA is a nonprofit, tax exempt corporation with 187 employees, and funded almost exclusively by the contributions of its members.

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


RESEARCH extra head grafted on dog.
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Stray dog being beaten to death in China.
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Profile

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 animal testing, animal product eating, factory farming, hunting, and fishing, as well as the use of animals in entertainment or as clothing, furniture, or decoration.

In PETA's 2004 annual review, Newkirk stated:

Everyone eats, so we have done our best not only to reform the worst abuses in factory farming and slaughterhouses, but to promote a compassionate vegan diet, providing all the resources, from recipes to health tips, that a person could ever need. We have also revolutionized the way some companies do business, getting them to stop selling fur, boycott Australian merino wool, and abandon painful animal-poisoning tests in favor of sophisticated non-animal methods. We have shown how to prevent flooding without destroying beavers' homes and how to prevent birds from entering "big box" stores without using cruel glue traps. In the past year alone, former circus and zoo elephants were sent to sanctuaries, hog-dog rodeos were banned, and cruel companies were fined. We also educated millions of kids about animal rights through our teacher network and education programs.


Dog torched alive, USA PETA.
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These puppies had been locked in the box since birth.
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History

PETA believes that ... like you ... [animals] are capable of suffering and have an interest in leading their own lives; therefore, they are not ours to use - for food, clothing, entertainment, experimentation, or any other reason. - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Founded in 1980, PETA first came to public attention in 1981 during what became known as the Silver Spring monkeys case. 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. 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. 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.

PETA members have themselves crossed the line between campaigning and direct action, particularly in their long-standing efforts to halt the fur industry, which has involved disrupting fashion shows and throwing paint at fur coats. 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, 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."


Dogs killed in USA at CBSC labs, PETA.
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Dogs going to market in Phillipines.
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Campaigning

The fact is we are the biggest group because we succeed in getting attention. ... The fact is we may be doing all sorts of things on a campaign but the one thing that gets attention is the outrageous thing. It simply goes to prove to us each time, that that is the thing that's going to work; and so we won't shirk from doing that facet - in addition to all the other things we do that you never hear about because no one cares.


Dog killed in Spain left to rot.
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Dogs killed in USA at CBSC labs, PETA.
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Undercover investigations

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.


A monkey in a restraint tube filmed by PETA in Covance laboratory in Vienna, Virginia, 2004-2005

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