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Peta toplogo.png
Founders Ingrid Newkirk and Alex Pacheco
Type 501(c)(3)
Founded 1980
Headquarters Norfolk, Virginia, USA
Staff Ingrid Newkirk
Focus Animal rights
Revenue $34 million in 2008
Employees 187
Members 2,000,000
Motto "Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is an animal rights organization based in Norfolk, Virginia, USA. With two million members and supporters worldwide, it claims the status of the largest animal rights group in the world. Ingrid Newkirk is its international president.[1]

Founded in 1980, the organization is a nonprofit, tax exempt, 501(c)(3) corporation with 187 employees, funded almost entirely by its members. Newkirk has said "our goal is total animal liberation."[2] According to its website, PETA focuses on four core issues: factory farming, fur farming, animal testing, and animals in entertainment. Their website also says of the ownership of pets: "We at PETA very much love the animal companions who share our homes, but we believe that it would have been in the animals' best interests if the institution of 'pet keeping'—i.e., breeding animals to be kept and regarded as 'pets'—never existed", and attributes pet ownership to a "selfish desire to possess animals and receive love from them", while not endorsing "set[ing] them free".[3] PETA also campaigns against the killing of animals regarded as pests, the abuse of backyard dogs, cock fighting, dog fighting, bullfighting, hunting, and fishing. It aims to inform the public through advertisements, undercover investigations, animal rescue, and lobbying. Its slogan is "animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment."[4]

The organization has been criticized for the confrontational style and content of its campaigns, and for the number of animals it euthanizes.[5] It has also been criticized for providing financial support to persons associated with the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front, which were listed in a draft planning document as domestic terrorist threats by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.[6][7]



PETA is an animal rights organization. It rejects speciesism, and the idea that animals may be regarded as property. It therefore opposes the use of animals in any form: in animal testing, as food, entertainment, clothing, furniture, decoration,[8] companionship for people, seeing eye dogs for the blind, or as working in any form such as shepherding sheep.[9] PETA would like for all animals to be completely free from dependency on humans to survive.[10]

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 ... 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."[11] Regarding PETA's controversial campaigns, Newkirk has said: "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."[12]


PETA distributed photographs of the Silver Spring monkeys with the caption, "This is vivisection. Don't let anyone tell you different."[13]

Founded in 1980, PETA first came to public attention in 1981 during what became known as the Silver Spring monkeys case.[14] Alex Pacheco, PETA's co-founder with Ingrid Newkirk, conducted an undercover investigation inside a primate research laboratory at the Institute of Behavioral Research in Silver Spring, Maryland. The researcher, Dr. Edward Taub, had cut sensory ganglia that supplied nerves to the monkeys' fingers, hands, arms, and legs, a process called "deafferentation", so that they could not feel them; with some, he deafferented their entire spinal column.[15] He then used restraint, electric shock, and withholding of food and water to force the monkeys to use the deafferented parts of their bodies.[16] The aim was to determine whether the monkeys could be forced to use the limbs, and whether this had an effect on the structure of their brains. The research led in part to the development of the concept of neuroplasticity and a new physical therapy for stroke victims called constraint-induced movement therapy.[17]

Alec Baldwin with president and co-founder Ingrid Newkirk, at a PETA event for filmmaker Donny Moss in New York City

Pacheco visited the laboratory at night and took photographs that showed the monkeys were living in "filthy conditions", according to the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research's ILAR Journal.[18] He turned his evidence over to the police, who raided the lab and arrested Taub. Taub was convicted of six counts of animal cruelty, the first such conviction in the U.S. of a research scientist, although it was later overturned on appeal. Some scientists, including Nobel Prize winner David Hubel, criticized Pacheco's actions, and accused PETA of fabricating evidence.[19] The ensuing controversy, and the battle over custody of some of the monkeys, lasted ten years and triggered an amendment in 1985 to the Animal Welfare Act to ensure that researchers do not cause unnecessary suffering to laboratory animals.[20][21] It became the first animal-testing case to be argued before the United States Supreme Court, which rejected PETA's application for custody.[14] The case transformed PETA from what Newkirk called "five people in a basement" into a national movement able and willing to use undercover methods, the courts, and the media to achieve its aims.[22]

Philosophy and activism


Christy Turlington during PETA's "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" campaign[23]

The organization is known for its unusual mix of celebrity supporters, such as Paul McCartney, Pamela Anderson, and Sarah Jessica Parker, combined with undercover investigations and aggressive media campaigns. Many of these have focused on large corporations, such as KFC, McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, PETCO, Procter & Gamble, Covance, and Huntingdon Life Sciences. Supermodels such as Christy Turlington, Eva Mendes and Naomi Campbell have posed naked on billboards with the slogan "I'd Rather Go Naked than Wear Fur" emblazoned across their chests.[24]

Subsequently, Burger King, McDonald's, and Wendy's have introduced vegetarian options in their menus; Petco dropped the sale of many exotic live pets; and in 2006, after talks with PETA, Polo Ralph Lauren announced that it would no longer use fur in any of its lines.[25] Other campaigns attract criticism. Newkirk was criticized in 2003 when she sent a letter to then-PLO leader Yasser Arafat in response to a Jerusalem bombing attack in which a donkey was loaded with explosives and blown up. Newkirk appealed to Arafat to keep animals out of the conflict. She told the Washington Post: "It's not my business to inject myself into human wars."[26]

Holocaust comparisons

Some of the campaigns have been controversial. The 2003 Holocaust on your Plate exhibition consisted of eight 60-square-foot (5.6 m2) panels, each juxtaposing images of the Holocaust with images of factory farming. The campaign was inspired by the Nobel Prize-winning Jewish author Isaac Bashevis Singer, a vegetarian and animal rights supporter.[27] Singer wrote (as the main character in one of his novels): "In relation to them [animals], all people are Nazis; for them it is an eternal Treblinka."[27] Photographs of concentration camp inmates 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 Nazi death camps."[28][29] The Anti-Defamation League denounced the campaign, its chairman, Abraham Foxman (himself a Holocaust survivor[27]), calling the exhibition "outrageous, offensive and tak[ing] 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."[29][30]

The PETA Holocaust exhibit was created by Matt Prescott, himself a Jew who lost several relatives in the Holocaust.[29] Prescott said: "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 recognize that what Jews and others went through in the Holocaust is what animals go through every day in factory farms."[29] The Guardian subsequently reported, however, that "the appeal has done little to calm the fury of Jewish groups."[29] In May 2005, Newkirk issued a response, in which she apologized for the pain the campaign had caused some people, while defending the goals of the campaign.[31]

Undercover investigations

A monkey in a restraint tube, as filmed by PETA in Covance laboratory in Vienna, Virginia, 2004–2005 [4]. Covance disputed many of PETA's charges, but not this photograph.[32][33]

PETA sends its employees undercover into facilities such as research laboratories to document the treatment of animals, sometimes requiring them to spend months recording their experiences.[34] Some of these investigations have led to legal action. It conducted an undercover investigation of Covance, an animal testing company in the U.S. and Europe, in 2003 and 2004, obtaining video footage that appeared to show monkeys being hit and mistreated, and submitted a formal complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.[35] Covance received 16 sanctions and agreed to a fine of $8,720, but stated that all of the citations were for minor administrative matters unrelated to animal cruelty, and that over 700 of the specific charges made by PETA had been rejected by the government.[32] Covance also claimed that PETA had edited film together in order to exaggerate the evidence.[33] A German state prosecutor determined that Covance's European laboratories had broken no laws.[33] Legal action has also been brought against PETA for invasion of privacy following undercover work, but a federal judge in the U.S. ruled in PETA's favor in April 2007 that undercover investigations often reveal misconduct.[34]

PETA filmed HLS staff in the UK beating dogs. The footage was shown on Britain's Channel 4 television in a documentary called "It's a dog's life."

Researchers went undercover in 1997 into Huntingdon Life Sciences, a contract animal-testing company, where they filmed staff in the UK beating dogs,[36] and what appears to be abuse of monkeys in the company's Princeton, New Jersey, facility.[37] 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 1984, a 26-minute PETA film called Unnecessary Fuss,[38] based on 60 hours of researchers' footage obtained by the ALF 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.[18][39] The footage showed brain damage being inflicted on baboons using a hydraulic device intended to simulate whiplash.[18][39]

In 1990, Bobby Berosini, a Las Vegas entertainer, lost his wildlife license, as well as a later lawsuit against PETA, after PETA broadcast an undercover film of him slapping and punching the orangutans he performed with.[40] 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.[41] PETA was criticized in 1999 regarding undercover film it took inside the Carolina Biological Supply Company, which appeared to show wriggling cats being embalmed alive, in the opinion of two veterinarians; an anatomist argued that the wriggling may have been the effect of formalin on freshly dead muscle tissue, which causes muscle fibers to contract, and the case against the company was dismissed.[42]

In 2004, PETA made public the results of an eight-month undercover investigation by an employee in a West Virginia Pilgrim's Pride slaughterhouse that supplied chickens to KFC. PETA provided videos and other evidence of animal cruelty committed by slaughterhouse workers, such as tearing the heads of chickens off to write graffiti.[43] Yum Brands, owner of KFC, threatened to stop purchasing from Pilgrim's Pride if no changes were made; Pilgrim's Pride fired 11 workers and managers and said workers would sign an anti-cruelty pledge.[43]

Support for direct action

Newkirk is outspoken in her support of direct action. PETA has provided financial support to militant activists, and PETA members themselves have been criticized for taking activism too far, particularly in their long-standing efforts to halt the fur industry, which has involved disrupting fashion shows and throwing red paint on the runway.[44][45] In 1996, PETA activists famously threw a dead raccoon onto the restaurant table of Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue, who promotes the use of fur, and left bloody paw prints and the words "Fur Hag" on the steps of her home.[46] In January 2010, a member of the Canadian parliament described the throwing of a pie at the Fisheries Minister by a PETA member as "acting as a terrorist organization".[47]

Support for the ALF

Not until black demonstrators resorted to violence did the national government work seriously for civil rights legislation ... In 1850 white abolitionists, having given up on peaceful means, began to encourage and engage in actions that disrupted plantation operations and liberated slaves. Was that all wrong?[48]

The group has also 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," 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 militant groups, including the ALF, which the FBI has named as a domestic terrorist threat.[49][50]

Ingrid Newkirk to David Shankbone on the Animal Liberation Front.ogg
Ingrid Newkirk on clashes with other animal rights organizations and her feelings about the Animal Liberation Front.

Rod Coronado, a former ALF activist, received $64,000 from PETA, and two months later another $38,240, as a loan 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.[6] PETA is also alleged to have donated $1.3 million to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), 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.[51] 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 SHAC campaign.[52] According to the New York Post, it gave $1,500 to the Earth Liberation Front in 2001. 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."[53] It also provided $7,500 to Fran Trutt, convicted of the attempted murder of Leon Hirsch, the CEO of the United States Surgical Corporation.[54]

Newkirk has also been criticized for having cooperated with ALF raids. In 1995, during Coronado's trial for an arson attack on Michigan State University, U.S. Attorney Michael Dettmer said Newkirk had arranged, before the fact, to have Coronado send her documents from the lab and a videotape of the raid.[55] 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."[48]

Community Animal Project

PETA provides dog houses and straw bedding for chained, backyard dogs.

PETA has several programs helping cats and dogs in poorer areas of southeastern Virginia and northern North Carolina. In 2008, PETA neutered 7,485 cats, dogs, and rabbits in that area, including 165 pit bulls and 715 feral cats at a discounted rate or free of charge. 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 or 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. In 2008, this amounted to over 300 dog houses and 1,200 bales of straw.[56] PETA also finances public service announcements and billboards urging people to control the pet overpopulation through neutering and adopting animals from shelters.[57][58]

Policy on euthanasia

PETA is against the no kill movement and euthanizes most of the animals surrendered to them.[59] In 2005, PETA euthanized 1,946 companion animals in Virginia, out of 2,138 animals (or 91%) surrendered to them or picked up as strays.[60] During the same year, 126,797 animals, out of 228,376 animals (or 55%) surrendered or picked up as strays, were euthanized at animal shelters in Virginia. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 3–4 million dogs and cats are euthanized annually in the U.S. for lack of homes (HSUS Pet Overpopulation Estimates, Humane Society of the United States).

PETA's policies and positions on euthanasia have been controversial.[5] PETA recommends euthanasia for certain breeds of animals, such as pit bull terriers, and in certain situations for unwanted animals in shelters: for example, for those living for long periods in cramped cages.[61][62][63] 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 to operate a no-kill policy.[64] Before founding PETA, Newkirk was chief of animal-disease control and director of the animal shelter in the District of Columbia.[65] She has said that she was shocked by the way the animals were treated in the shelter, and by the methods used to euthanize them.[66] 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."[67]

Criminal proceedings

PETA was criticized in 2005 when police discovered that over the course of a month, at least 80 animals had been euthanized and left in area dumpsters. Two PETA employees were seen approaching a dumpster in a van registered to PETA and leaving behind 18 dead animals; 13 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.[68] The group said it began euthanizing animals in some rural North Carolina shelters after it found the shelters were killing animals in ways PETA considered inhumane.[69] Police charged the two employees with 31 felony counts of animal cruelty and eight misdemeanor counts of illegal disposal of dead animals.[70] They were acquitted of all charges by April 2008.[71]

Position on animal testing

Even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS, we'd be against it.

Ingrid Newkirk, PETA President, [72]

PETA believes that animal testing, whether toxicity testing, basic or applied research, or for education and training, is wasteful and unreliable.[73] The group believes that animal research conducted for medical purposes "tends to be irrelevant to human health," both because artificially induced diseases in animals are not identical to human diseases, and because humans and animals differ in biologically significant ways. They say that animal experiments are frequently redundant and lack accountability, oversight, and regulation. PETA promotes and supports alternatives to the use of animals in testing, including embryonic stem cell research and in vitro cell research.

PETA staff members have reportedly volunteered for human testing of vaccines; Scott Van Valkenburg, PETA’s Director of Major Gifts, acknowledged in a letter to a newspaper in 1999 that he had been a volunteer in human testing of HIV vaccines.[74] However, PETA's director of Investigations and Research at the time of Newkirk's AIDS-research quote, MaryBeth Sweetland, is an insulin-dependent diabetic.[75] Sweetland, who would not have had treatment available for her disease had insulin not been developed using animal products and testing, has defended her actions, stating "I don't see myself as a hypocrite. I need my life to fight for the rights of animals."[76]

Position on pet ownership

According to PETA's website, "We at PETA very much love the animal companions who share our homes, but we believe that it would have been in the animals' best interests if the institution of 'pet keeping'—i.e., breeding animals to be kept and regarded as 'pets'—never existed... This selfish desire to possess animals and receive love from them causes immeasurable suffering, which results from manipulating their breeding, selling or giving them away casually, and depriving them of the opportunity to engage in their natural behavior."[3] However, they also say, "Contrary to myth, PETA does not want to confiscate animals who are well cared for and 'set them free.' What we want is for the population of dogs and cats to be reduced through spaying and neutering and for people to adopt animals (preferably two so that they can keep each other company when their human companions aren't home) from pounds or shelters—never from pet shops or breeders—thereby reducing suffering in the world."[3]

Conflicts with other activists

With animal rights advocates

PETA has been the target of criticism from other animal rights advocates, some of whom believe the group is too soft on the issue of animal rights, or who have attacked PETA for targeting women in its ads. John "J.P." Goodwin, founder of the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade, said, "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."[77]

PETA's "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" campaign generated criticism from feminists for objectifying women, as did their campaign poster showing a woman's pair of legs, wearing black stockings and high heels, in which the woman is dragging a fur coat dripping with blood: "It takes up to 40 dumb animals to make a fur coat. But only one to wear it."[78] In response to an ad in which Patti Davis posed naked with Hugh Hefner's dog, Batya Bauman, director of Feminists for Animal Rights (FAR), said that, "as dedicated as we are to stopping the abuse of animals ... we cannot condone a method that objectifies women in this way," adding that FAR felt compelled to distance itself and speak out.[79][80]

"New welfarism" criticism

Gary Francione argues that PETA are "new welfarists," not animal rights supporters.

Gary Francione, professor of law at Rutgers School of Law-Newark, has criticized PETA for having become an animal welfare organization, rather than one committed to animal rights. PETA is an example of what Francione calls the "new welfarists," because, even though their long-term goal is the abolition of animal use, they are willing to work with industries that use animals, in order to effect incremental change. Francione, a proponent of abolitionism, argues that this is the approach of traditional animal welfare groups, which he says is detrimental to the cause of animal rights, by making the public believe that progress is underway, when the changes are only cosmetic.[81] Francione has also criticized PETA for having closed down grassroots animal rights organizations, which he argues were essential for the movement's survival. One aspect of the modern animal rights movement, as opposed to the traditional animal welfare movement, is that the former rejects the centrality of corporate animal charities. Francione writes that PETA initially set up independent chapters around the country, but closed them in the mid-1980s in favor of a top-down, centralized organization, which not only consolidated decision-making power, but centralized donations too, so that animal rights donations in a particular state now go to PETA, rather than to a group that is active locally.[81]

With wildlife conservation personalities

PETA criticizes conservation personalities such as Steve Irwin for placing animals under stress.

PETA is critical of those they call "self-professed wildlife warriors", television personalities such as Jack Hanna, Jim Fowler and Steve Irwin. PETA argues that while they 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 wrestling with them, are harmful to the animals they say to protect. Those actions often involve juvenile animals which the group says should be with their mothers.[82] The conflict between PETA and those personalities came to public attention in 2006, when, just after Irwin's death, PETA's vice-president Dan Mathews stated that Irwin, had "made a career out of antagonizing frightened wild animals, which is a very dangerous message to send to kids."[83] Australian Member of Parliament Bruce Scott said PETA should apologize to Irwin's family and the rest of Australia.[84]


PETA received donations from the public of over $25 million for the year ending July 31, 2005, according to its audited financial statement. Nearly 85 percent of its operating budget was spent on its programs; 10.83 percent on fundraising efforts; and 4.18 percent on management and general operations. Fifty-three percent of its staff earned between $14,560 and $27,999; 32 percent between $28,000 and $38,499; and 15 percent over $38,500. Newkirk earned $32,000.[85] Some of its staff drew remunerations of up to $72,488.[86]

There has been criticism of PETA's finances. The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has pointed to tax-return claims for funding organizations, such as the ALF, later designated as domestic terrorist threats in that country.[87] The BBB Wise Giving Alliance said in 2008 that PETA does not meet three of its accountability standards.[88]

Other campaigns

Two of PETA's Lettuce Ladies in Columbus, Ohio


Two long-running campaigns are "Here's the rest of your fur coat,"[89] and "I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur," in which supermodels appeared nude to express their opposition to wearing fur.[24] In May 2006, PETA 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.[90] In 2009, PETA called for a boycott of Canadian maple syrup[91] and the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver[92] to protest the Canadian fur seal hunt.

Animals as food

PETA promotes vegetarian and vegan diets through celebrity ads,[93] a vegetarian-specific website,[94] a vegetarian cooking blog[95] and website,[96] by offering free Vegetarian Starter Kits,[97] explicit videos of meat production,[98] and appearances by the "Lettuce Ladies". PETA claims that meat is harmful to human health and the environment. PETA has also criticized kosher methods of animal slaughter for food as being inhumane.[99]

A parody logo created during PETA's 2001 campaign against Burger King

KFC is PETA's fourth fast food target for alleged animal cruelty, after campaigns against McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's. The KFC campaign has included more than 10,000 demonstrations worldwide and claimed support from a number of celebrities, including Al Sharpton, Dick Gregory, and Tommy Lee. 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. PETA shot video footage at a slaughterhouse in Moorefield, West Virginia, and posted the footage on its website. According to news reports, PETA as a shareholder in YUM! Brands submitted a shareholders' resolution asking KFC to kill chickens in a more humane manner.[100]


Shilpa Shetty in a Boycott the circus advertisement

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.[101][102] 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!"[102] The elephants are shown screaming and recoiling in pain, according to PETA.[103]


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 complained that the campaign encouraged underage drinking. As a result of the criticism, PETA halted the campaign in March 2000.[104] In 2002, the effort to promote beer over milk was revived by PETA after a two year hiatus.[105]

A 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.[106] 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" and that the claims about health risks "were unacceptable", and not directly supported by the cited articles.[107] Following the injunction, PETA revamped its trading cards in order to continue the effort.[108] Their website makes the same claims regarding adverse health effects. PETA continued its campaign against dairy in 2008, by suggesting that Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc. create an ice cream product made from human milk, after a Swiss restaurant began using human milk in some of its menu items.[109]

Are Animals the New Slaves?

The 2005 "Are Animals the New Slaves?" campaign[110] featured a display in which images of oppressed groups, including black slaves, Native Americans, child laborers, and women, were juxtaposed with those of chained elephants and slaughtered cows.[111] The comparison of black people to these animals was criticized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,[112] and PETA agreed to suspend it.[113]

Requests for name changes

PETA regularly asks towns and cities 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. It 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.")[114] In October 2003, the group urged the town of Rodeo, California call itself 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.[115] In 2007, the group asked Commerce City, Colorado to change its name to[116] In October 2008, PETA launched the "Save the Sea Kittens" campaign, calling fish "sea kittens" in an attempt to give them a positive image.[117] In April 2009, PETA asked the Pet Shop Boys to change their name to Rescue Shelter Boys. The musicians said that while they were unable to agree to the request, it "raises an issue worth thinking about."[118]

Graphic promotions

The organization has been criticized for distributing graphic pamphlets to children. According to PETA's website,[119] the pamphlets are geared toward making parents aware of how their actions affect their children. One pamphlet, "Your Daddy Kills Animals!"[120] 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." Another pamphlet, addressing the wearing of fur, was headlined "Your Mommy Kills Animals",[121] and featured a cartoon of a mother slicing a knife into a rabbit's stomach. This comic was the inspiration for the naming of a 2007 documentary film about PETA entitled Your Mommy Kills Animals. In February 2010, the British Advertising Standards Authority ruled against the use of a PETA poster featuring one of the people jailed for the death of Baby P, with the text "Steven Barker: Animal Abuser, Baby Abuser, Rapist. People who are violent towards animals rarely stop there."[122][123][124]

U.S. military

In October 2007, PETA asked the United States Army to reconsider its use of live animals to simulate battlefield injuries during medical education and training. In February 2008, PETA sent a letter to Assessment and Training Solutions, a contractor which offers the training to the military, asking the company to change its methods. In late 2008, the United States Department of Defense (DoD) formed an analysis team to reevaluate the use of live animals for training. The DoD said that the decision to conduct the review was unrelated to external activities or organizations. PETA spokesman Shalin Gala, however, said of the development, "They wouldn't be reviewing this unless pressure was brought to bear on the situation."[125]

Competition for in-vitro meat creation

In April 2008, PETA announced a US$1m prize for the creation of a method to produce "commercially viable quantities of in vitro meat at competitive prices by 2012." The announcement caused what Newkirk called a "near civil war" in their office, since many of PETA's members are repulsed by the thought of eating animal tissue even if no animals are killed in its creation.[126]

See also


  1. ^ PETA letter to the Sarasota County Commission, accessed May 23, 2008; "About Peta", accessed July 10, 2006.
  2. ^ Penn & Teller: Bullshit! Episode 201: P.E.T.A., Original Airdate Apr 1, 2004, 2:37
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Further reading

Peta can refer to:

  • peta-, an SI prefix denoting a factor of 1015
  • Peta, Greece, a town in Greece
  • Peta, the Pāli word for a Preta, or hungry ghost in Buddhism
  • Peta Hall, a well known Rhodesian-Canadian potter
  • Peta Wilson, an Australian actress and model
  • Peta (MÄR), a fictional character in the manga and anime series MÄR
  • Peta (cat), former resident Downing Street cat and holder of the post of Chief mouser to the cabinet office 1964-78

PETA is an acronym that can refer to:

See also


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




  1. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
  2. People Eating Tasty Animals


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