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 is PETA?
Ingrid Newkirk: Well we stand for the concept that animals are other individuals like us, like human beings; that they don’t need the same rights as we do. They don’t need to vote or to drive a car; but what they need is the right to be respected and left in peace. They are not cheap handbags, and hamburgers, and burglar alarms, and tools for research.
They’re not test tubes with whiskers. They’re not cuffs, and collars, and glove linings. They’re individuals like us, and they mostly have wonderful, awe inspiring, maternal instincts. They know things about the natural world. They can build their own home without any tools. They can get their own food without a supermarket. We should just be amazed at them, and not see them as sort of a hamburger on the hoof; or something we’ve yet to kill because we haven’t got around to it; or be mean to them with the manner in which we control them, and we kill them, and we confine them, and e own them. We should use them as refugees or treat them as refugees who need sanctuary if we take them into our homes, not as accoutrements to our lifestyle. I’m a big macho man. I want a macho dog, and I’m going to do--Those kinds of things are the wrong way to think about animals. They’re not to be chained up in the circus. They are to be left to live their own lives.
Recorded on: November 12, 2007