Ingrid Newkirk is an animal rights activist, an author, and the president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). She is best known for the animal rights awareness campaigns she organizes on behalf of PETA, which she cofounded in 1980. As PETA's president, Ingrid has spoken internationally on animal rights issues—from the steps of the Canadian Parliament to the streets of New Delhi, India, and from the drowning tanks of Taiwan to the halls of the U.S. Congress. Newkirk is the author of several books, including Free the Animals, You Can Save the Animals, and 250 Things You can Do To Make Your Cat Adore You.
Question: What are an animal’s rights?
Ingrid Newkirk: I think that if you ask different people you’ll get different results, different answers. But certainly I think we could all agree that what is important to us as feeling individuals, as emotional creatures, which all the other animals . . . They’re not just animals and humans. We’re all animals in this together.
If we took Biology 101, we remember that. It’s that we should be afforded the right not to be treated miserably; not to be hurt; not to be treated with violence; not to be used and thrown away, discarded as if we are an object. The animals need those things too. So it’s not really about material things. It’s about just respecting them individuals; or other nations, as you will, with their own language, with their own culture, with their own way of doing things. Their appearance, the package they come in, isn’t important. What’s important is here’s another individual in front of me. Could be from another country, could be another religion, another race, could be another species. What am I doing to make sure that I am not harming them needlessly?
Recorded on: November 12, 2007