Conservation Influencers

Animal Legal Defense Fund

Cotati, CA, USA

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) was founded in 1979 by the U.S. attorney Joyce Tischler, whose supporters like to call the ‘mother of animal law’. Tischler was among the first lawyers to support the animal rights movement in the 1970s. It was her thinking that articulated the notion that legal rights should be extended to ‘natural objects’. For example in 1976 – 1977, Tischler published what was then considered to be a ‘groundbreaking’ article in an academic journal, Rights for Nonhuman Animals: A Guardianship Model for Dogs and Cats

Another key figure in the ALDF’s rise to prominence was Roger Galvin. His appointment in the mid-1980s caused a stir because he was already a famous Assistant State Attorney.  In that function he had accepted the findings of undercover work at the Institute for Behavioral Research in Maryland, USA, carried out by Alex Pacheco, co-founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Persuaded by flimsy evidence from a biased source, Galvin initiated a fiercely contested prosecution known as the Silver Spring, MD, monkey case. This controversial prosecution captured mass media attention around the world. The ensuing publicity transformed PETA from being a relatively unknown entity into a global brand. 

Pursuing the prosecution with uncalled for enthusiasm, Galvin filed a 17-count ‘information’ action (an indictment without a grand jury). In all, 11 counts were dismissed at trial and 5 ended in acquittal. The single remaining charge, which was failure to provide adequate veterinary care for six of the animals, secured a conviction that was overturned and dismissed upon appeal. 


Since 2006, CEO and Executive Director is Stephen Wells.


Board of Directors and an Advisory Council.


According to its 2020 audited accounts, ALDF’s total revenue and support amounted to USD 28,228, 490, of which USD21, 530, 136 was used for expenses. ALDF has net assets of USD18.6 million. 

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.


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.