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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Alternate meaning: peta (metric prefix)

The neutrality of this article is disputed.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is an international non-profit organization dedicated to animal rights. It was founded in 1980, and its current president is Ingrid Newkirk. With more than 750,000 members, PETA is the largest animal rights organization in the world.

Table of contents
1 Media campaigns and public demonstrations
2 The "Animal Holocaust" controversy
3 Suicide Bombing
4 Domain dispute over
5 Famous members and supporters
6 External Links
7 References

Media campaigns and public demonstrations

Most recently (in 2003), PETA has received media attention for its boycott of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).

PETA is well known for aggressive media campaigns and public demonstrations for animal rights. Reception of the group's actions is sharply polarized.

PETA is also famous for its attacks on large corporations for their mistreatment of animals. PetCo and Procter & Gamble are examples of companies which PETA claims are exploiting animals for profit. According to PETA, PetCo confines animals in filthy enclosures, where they are commonly left to die, and P&G tests its many products unnecessarily on animals.

PETA supporters say that the organization has been able to protect the lives of many animals, including closing the largest horse slaughterhouse in the nation and stopping the use of cats and dogs in wound laboratories. They believe the group's often radical actions to be justified to combat what they see as avoidable cruelty. They also claim that critics fail to address their fundamental belief that animals deserve some kind of moral consideration.

While most critics of PETA would probably not indentify as animal rights supporters many vegans, vegetarians, and other animals rights supporters object, if not to PETA's goals and successes, at least to many of their messages and tactics. For example, Feminists for Animal Rights (FAR) have published articles critisizing PETA for its sexism and exploitation of women.

Some critics claim that PETA is deceptive and uses immoral means to achieve its ends. Adrian R. Morrison of the University of Pennsylvania, for example, claims that the group has "cleverly edited" 60 hours of video tape stolen from his laboratory by the Animal Liberation Front into a damning 30-minute segment, that it cooperated with radical groups, and that it used questionable tactics to silence, discredit and smear their opponents. He writes:

Two of the attempts to ruin my reputation were particularly despicable, but, fortunately, they were unsuccessful. PETA sent a letter with a copy of The Village Voice article to my neighbors, informing them that I was an animal abuser. My neighbors ignored or openly rejected the letter: one builds up credibility as the local Scoutmaster. A series of scurrilous articles on my contributions to science that were commissioned by the American Anti-Vivisection Society were laughed at by my colleagues. That society later protested publicly when the American Association for the Advancement of Science awarded me their Academic Freedom and Responsibility Award just a year after the raid.

A campaign was launched in the late 1990s to have the cities of Hamburg and Frankfurt, Germany to change their names, since the names are associated with hamburgers and hot dogs. The cities were offered free veggieburgers for all of their residents for life if they agreed to the change. Both cities refused.

Opponents of PETA see them as extremists; many take offense at the statements by Bruce Friedrich, a PETA executive. "If we really believe animals have the same right to be free from pain and suffering at our hands, then of course we're going to be blowing things up and smashing windows. I think it would be great if all of the fast-food outlets, slaughterhouses, these laboratories, and the banks that fund them, exploded tomorrow." (Source: Southern Poverty Law Center article.)

The "Animal Holocaust" controversy

PETA has run advertisements of chickens in coops next to photographs of Jews in concentration camps, and its website has photos of Holocaust billboards used to promote vegetarianism. This ad campaign is called "the Holocaust on Your Plate", and its comparisons between Holocaust victims being sent to death camps and farm animals being raised for food has aroused controversy. For example, its website "" states:

''Nobel Prize-winning author Isaac Bashevis Singer first noted the disturbing similarity between the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust and that of animals raised for food when he noticed that the techniques of mass slaughter developed for use on animals had also been used on human beings. [...] If we are revolted by comparisons between the plight of animals and the plight of human victims of oppression, it can only be because we are not yet prepared to accept our own role in the animals' fate. It is easy to condemn barbarity when it is separated from us by distance and time. But what about violence that we are a part of, that we support financially every time we sit down to eat? [...]

''Decades from now, what will you tell your grandchildren when they ask you whose side you were on during the "animals' holocaust"? Will you be able to say that you stood up against oppression, even when doing so was considered "radical" or "unpopular"? Will you be able to say that you could visualize a world without violence and realized that it began at breakfast? [...] PETA's thought-provoking display "Holocaust on Your Plate" spotlights this disturbing parallel by juxtaposing on freestanding 8-foot panels stomach-churning images of the torturous experiences of both Jews and animals.

Many Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), have attacked this moral equivalency between eating meat and the Holocaust of the Jewish people in Europe under Nazi Germany. A recent press release from the ADL states that:

PETA's effort to seek approval for their Holocaust on Your Plate campaign is outrageous, offensive and takes chutzpah to new heights. Rather than deepen our revulsion against what the Nazis did to the Jews, the project will undermine the struggle to understand the Holocaust and to find ways to make sure such catastrophes never happen again.

Suicide Bombing

Jewish groups have expressed outrage at PETA for taking what they claim to be an ambiguous moral stance on suicide bombings against Jews in the State of Israel. Specifically, in response to a news report in January of 2003 that a donkey was laden with explosives and intentionally blown up in a failed attack on a busload of Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk sent then Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat a request that he "appeal to all those who listen to [him] to leave the animals out of this conflict." However, Newkirk intentionally stopped short of asking Arafat to try to stop suicide bombings that kill people, later telling the Washington Post, "It is not my business to inject myself into human wars."

Domain dispute over

In June 2000, a federal judge ordered the owner of, a parody web site called "People Eating Tasty Animals", to give up its domain name to PETA for trademark reasons. This web address is now PETA's main web site.

Famous members and supporters

PETA has many famous members and supporters, including Pamela Anderson and Paul McCartney.

See also: animal rights, animal rights group

External Links