Conservation Influencers

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

USA

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is an extremist US-based animal rights group that was founded in 1980 by the British-born Ingrid Ward and American-born Alexander Pacheco. PETA opposes, what it calls, ‘speciesism’. That’s an ideology premised on the concept of ‘human supremacism’, which views humanity’s rights as being more important or superior to those of animals.

Heavily influenced by the thinking of the Australian ethicist Peter Singer’s book Animal Liberation (1975), PETA opposes all forms of humanity’s exploitation of animals. This means, for example, that it opposes domestic control measures that involve the eradication of pests, including rats, mice, cockroaches and all other forms of bugs. According to PETA’s worldview, even ‘shearing sheep equates to stealing’, and anyone who buys products with wool in them ‘supports a cruel and bloody industry’. 

But PETA is not a marginal outlier in the realm of animal welfare and animal rights NGOs. It is in fact, as it claims on its website, ‘the largest animal rights organization in the world’, with more than 6.5 million members and supporters. It regularly leads or supports the work of other animal rights and welfare NGOs. For example, PETA supports Humane Society International’s relatively moderate manifesto for animals in the UK, which is backed by 40 leading animal rights NGOs, including IFAW, Environmental Investigation Agency, Born Free and the RSPCA. 

PETA claims to be opposed to violence. But it maintains close links with the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front (ELF), including by providing financial donations. (See: Eco-terrorism specifically examining the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front. Committee on Environment and Public Works, United States Senate, One Hundred Ninth Congress.)

Leaders

Ingrid Newkirk, President.

Governance

Executive Board, led by Ingrid Newkirk, President.

Finance

According to PETA’s website, its revenues in 2019 were $50,871,312 and its operating expenditure was $55,974,945.

About the directory

Conservation Influencers is a searchable directory of the animal activist, environmental and ecological lobby. It examines the history, mission, methodology and reputation of NGOs to assess their impact on the global conservation cause.

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Wildlife Conservation Society

In 1906, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) put an African man on display in Bronx Zoo’s Monkey House. In 1918, one of WCS’s founding fathers, Madison Grant, published Passing of the Great Race, which Adolf Hitler referred to as his ‘Bible’. Another leading creator and early leader of WCS, Henry Fairfield Osborn Sr, was also a founder of the American Eugenics Society. His son headed WCS from 1940 to 1968, overseeing a series of major initiatives in Africa. There, WCS became one of the architects of the prohibition movement, which put wildlife for consumptive use and vast regions of land out of bounds to humanity. In 2020, WCS distanced itself in public from the racist views of Grant and Henry Fairfield Osborn Sr. But it has yet to issue a critical account of the legacy of Fairfield Osborn Jr, even though he led WCS into the modern era while sharing similar politically-inspired ecological goals to his father and Grant. WCS devotes considerable financial resources to influencing outcomes at CITES. WCS’s CEO reportedly earns USD$1,320,978.

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