Friends of Animals Goes Ballistic

Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals, went ballistic over the past couple weeks releasing two open letters on a popular animal rights news list that ended up getting her banned temporarily from the list. Both letters featured Feral charging that other animal rights groups were not abolitionist enough for her taste.

On June 26, 2001, Feral and Great Ape Standing & Personhood co-founder Lee Hall unleashed an letter ripping into In Defense of Animals over a National Institutes of Health contract for taking care of chimpanzees. The IDA put out a press release saying they were disappointed that the NIH had awarded the contract to a company that breeds animals for medical research purposes.

Feral and Hall in turn attack IDA for its implicit concession that it is okay to keep some chimpanzees in captivity. For example, consider this paragraph from Feral and Hall,

Your Release quotes Representative James Greenwood’s statement that the NIH “already has more chimpanzees than necessary.” IDA’s use of this reason to oppose the contract ignores the reality that Chimpanzees should not be owned by exploiters — “necessary or not. The very fact that the law considers research on Chimpanzees “necessary” both justifies and codifies the human right to torture non-human great apes.

In a follow-up press release dated July 3, 2001, Friends of Animals slammed People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals without naming the group specifically. According to FOA’s press release,

During the last several months, one group professing to advocate
animal rights activism — has been promoting McDonald’s. Now this organization is giving the nod to Burger King’s new endorsement of “humane standards” for animal slaughter [a clear reference to PETA]. Not surprisingly, another animal welfare association has jumped on board to laud the fast food establishment’s reform measures. Meanwhile, a coalition of groups is busy advocating a “reform” initiative in Florida to make the farming of pigs more “humane” before they are slaughtered.

Instead of using pressure tactics to force changes in the way animals are slaughtered, FOA is clear that abolition of meat eating is the only acceptable goal,

It is time for all of us who care about animals to accept one clear and simple fact. There is no such thing as humane animal agriculture. The life of a “farmed” animal is hell from the moment of birth to the moment of slaughter. The improvements that are being pushed by such welfare-oriented animal groups will do nothing to prevent animal suffering, or advance the goal of animal rights.

It is a very good day when PETA is attacked for being too soft on animal rights.


Open letter to In Defense of Animals. Priscilla Feral and Lee Hall, June 26, 2001.

Abolition, Not Reform. Priscilla Feral, Press Release, July 3, 2001.

Huntingdon Sues Activists

On April 19, Huntingdon Life Sciences announced that it was joining a lawsuit against “various animal rights organizations and affiliated individuals” who the company argues are involved in an “unlawful campaign of violence, intimidation, and harassment directed at the Company and Stephens Group of Little Rock, Arkansas, one of the Company’s significant shareholders.” Stephens Group had already filed the lawsuit against the activists, which HLS seeks to join.

HLS’s amended complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey and charges Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, Voices for Animals, Animal Defense League, In Defense of Animals, and several individuals with violating state and federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) statutes. According to an HLS press release,

The suit requests injunctive relief to stop the defendants and those acting in concert with them from engaging in acts and threats of force, violence and intimidation directed at the Company, Stephens, and their respective employees, customers, shareholders and investors. It also seeks an award of monetary damages for losses incurred as a result of the defendants’ unlawful conduct.

Huntingdon’s executive chairman Andrew Baker said in the release, “This suit represents a next step in the Company’s initiatives to reign in the company of a small band of animal rights extremists who are seeking to destroy our Company and undermine the fields of scientific discovery which rely on the Company’s crucial work. Unlike the activists, who defy the law to terrorize people and entities to bow to their demands, we will seek proper redress in the US legal system.”


Huntingdon sues animal activists. Huntingdon Life Sciences, Press Release, April 19, 2001.

Quiet facet of drug industry is drawing a loud reaction. Kate Coscarelli and John P. Martin, New Jersey Star-Ledger, Apri 8, 2001.

Procter and Gamble Abandons Animal Testing, But Activists Still Not Satisfied

Procter and Gamble recently announced that it would end all animal tests on
all “current beauty, fabric and home care, and paper products.” That
decision was initially hailed by some animal rights groups such as People for
the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which tried to take credit for P&G’s

In Defense of Animals suggested, however, that the whole thing might be a sham.
In a response to P&G, IDA’s Elliot Katz said,

It has been their [Procter & Gamble’s] competitive nature in the
past that has led to enormous suffering, and it is inherent corporate greed
that is allowing them to continue torturing animals on future products. There
is always apprehension that such grand statements are made for public relations
reasons as opposed to concern and compassion for the animals. Because they
have been disingenuous in the past, there is reason to be leery now.

The sticking point seems to be Procter & Gamble’s apparent intention
to test new ingredients and new products formed from old ingredients on animals.
The proposed solution offered by some animal rights activists is typical of
these groups’ mentality. The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection
suggested in a press release that, “P&G [should] wash their hands of
animal testing for good by using only combinations of the thousands of ingredients
already proven safe, which do not necessitate further animal testing.”

Primate Freedom Tour

The Primate Freedom Tour is
rolling through the United States, spreading misinformation about medical
research involving primates and generating a fair amount of controversy
even within the animal rights movement.

The tour travels across the
United States stopping at primate research facilities long enough to protest
and grab a bit of media attention. In large measure, however, the tour
has backfired on its sponsors due to the tactics they have adopted.

Along with the typical animal
rights tactics — one protester locked himself in a cage for three days
outside of a Coulston facility — members of the Primate Freedom Tour
have protested outside the homes of researchers working at primate facilities
and released the home addresses of their targets in press releases. In
several cases police have come close to arresting primate tour members
and a University of California of Davis researcher was arrested recently
for allegedly assaulting protesters outside his home.

Such tactics have garnered
the tour a wave of negative publicity, helped out by press releases form
the tour itself that emphasize the group’s militant stand and tactics.
By July 1, Suzanne Roy and Eric Kleiman, program director and research
director respectively at In Defense of Animals, had enough and issued
a “Personal statement against certain tactics of Primate Freedom Tour”
attacking the militant tactics which, Roy and Kleiman correctly perceive,
only work against the animal rights movement.

As Roy and Kleiman write,

A number of years ago, the A[merican] M[edical] A[ssociation]
developed an action plan for neutralizing the animal rights movement.
Its strategy was to portray animal rights advocates as extremists and
terrorists … We believe the Tour is certainly making the jobs of A[mericans
for] M[edical] P[rogress] and other similar groups easier. Their attempts
to portray all animal advocates as extremist fanatics, engaged in a terroristic
‘jihad’ that must be constrained by the police … are certainly being facilitated
by the Tour’s organizers.

Roy and Kleiman are certainly
right about the ethics and media effect of home protests, but their own
statement itself belies the claim that animal rights activists are being
falsely painted as extremists and terrorists by the AMP and AMA. The fact
is that most animal rights activists and organizations are extremists
as evidenced by the fact that Roy and Kleiman had to release their comments
as a “personal statement” and make very explicit that their views don’t
reflect that of In Defense of Animals, which is one of the sponsors of
the Primate Freedom Tour. Since the Tour began, Roy and Kleiman are the
only two individuals to my knowledge to issue such a statement and no
animal rights organization has come out with any statement containing
anything but praise for the Primate Freedom Tour.

This silence is deafening
and yet Roy and Kleiman would have us believe that the extremists who
would protest at a researchers home represent a small minority of animal
rights activists and the rest of the movement is unfairly associated with
this tiny fringe of the movement. Please, give it a rest already. This
is as believable as the constant refrain that the Animal Liberation Front‘s
acts of destruction don’t represent the animal rights movement, even though
all but a handful of animal rights groups refuse to condemn such actions
and most express their sympathy with the terrorists.

Animal Rights Awareness Week and Attitudes Toward Animal Experiments

In Defense of Animals has declared
June 21-26 Animal Rights Awareness Week, urging activists to “educat[e]
… the public about the way in which businesses that sell animals, particularly
‘pet stores,’ perpetuate a vicious cycle of cruelty, suffering and death.”

An Animal Rights Awareness Week
is a great idea — the more accurate information people have about the
animal rights movement and about the use of animals, the better. This
point was highlighted in a recent survey commissioned by the New Scientist
to gauge people’s attitudes toward animal experimentation.

The poll of British citizens
found 64 percent of respondents disagreed with the view that scientists
should be allowed to conduct any experiment on animals, while only 24 percent
agreed. When told that such experiments might lead to the development
of important medical treatments, however, 45 percent of respondents agreed
that scientists could perform any experiment in animals, while only 41
percent were opposed.

The most amazing result of the
study, however, was the widespread ignorance of the role of animal testing
in drug development. Of those people who themselves had taken or had a
close family member who had taken a prescription drug for a serious illness
in the previous two years, only 1 in 6 realized such drugs had been tested
on animals.

Although surveys of Americans
generally find a lot more support for animal research than in Great Britain
(where animal rights activists have much more support), I wouldn’t be
surprised if the general level of ignorance about animal testing wasn’t
similar in the United States.

The clear message of the survey
is that government, industry and others need to do more to educate the
public about the continuing need for animal experimentation to further
development of important medical technologies. Animal rights activists
have become rather adept at exploiting people’s general ignorance of science
and their specific ignorance of the role animals play in medical research.
Educating the public and correcting the myths and lies spread by animal
rights activists should be a top priority.


Explanations shift attitudes to animal experiments. Richard Woodman, British Medical Journal 1999;381:1438 (29 May).

Animal Rights Awareness Week June 21-26, 1999. In Defense of Animals press release, May 19, 1999.