Timeline of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
This is a timeline of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an American animal rights organization. PETA has affiliates in the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, India and the Asia-Pacific Region.
|Time period||Development summary|
|1980s||PETA is created, and emerges as the radical face of animal rights in the United States. Early in the decade, PETA gains public attention with the Silver Spring monkeys case.|
|1990s||In the 1990s, PETA launches an international campaign against cosmetic companies that use animals for cosmetic testing. PETA convinces Benetton to halt their animal testing, and the major cosmetic corporations soon follow. Also, following PETA’s hard-hitting campaign against General Motors, all car-crash tests on animals stop worldwide in the 1990s.|
|2000s||PETA expands into Asia, with the launch of PETA India.|
|Year||Month and date||Event type||Details|
|1975||Publication||Australian moral philosopher Peter Singer publishes Animal Liberation.|
|1980||March 22||Creation||PETA is founded by English-born American animal rights activist Ingrid Newkirk and fellow animal rights activist Alex Pacheco, both influenced by Peter Singer’s book Animal Liberation.|
|1981||Summer||Activism||PETA comes first into public attention during what would become known as the Silver Spring monkeys case, a widely publicized dispute about experiments conducted on 17 macaque monkeys inside the Institute of Behavioral Research in Silver Spring, Maryland. The case would last 10 years, involving the only police raid on an animal laboratory in the United States, triggering an amendment in 1985 to the country's Animal Welfare Act, and establishing PETA as an internationally known organization.|
|1982||Legal||PETA makes legal history by filing the first-ever lawsuit to become the guardian of animals used in experiments.|
|1983||Activism||PETA persuades a United States Department of Defense underground “wound lab” to shut down and permanently ban shooting dogs and cats in military wound laboratories.|
|1983||Publication||PETA President Ingrid Newkirk writes in a Washington Post article: “Six million Jews died in concentration camps, but six billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughterhouses.”|
|1984||Investigation||PETA releases "Unnecessary Fuss," a compilation of 70 hours of video tape taken by vivisectors of their head-injury experiments on baboons at the University of Pennsylvania. The following summer, PETA gathers a hundred activists for a four-day sit-in at the National Institutes of Health office funding these experiments, leading to withdrawal of the funding.|
|1984||Activism||PETA closes down a slaughterhouse operation in Texas in which 30,000 horses were trucked in and left to starve in frozen fields without shelter.|
|1985||Investigation||PETA uncovers gross mistreatment of dogs and other animals at the City of Hope laboratory in California. The government fines the center US$11,000 and suspends more than US$1,000,000 in federal funding to the lab.|
|1986||Investigation||PETA releases eyewitness video footage taken at the SEMA laboratory (later known as BIOQUAL) revealing abysmal conditions for chimpanzees. The video captures chimpanzees exhibiting signs of insanity, including self-mutilation and incessant rocking in dark, cramped cages. Moved by the footage, English primatologist Jane Goodall subsequently supports PETA in closing SEMA and getting chimpanzees out of laboratories.|
|1987||Activism||PETA foils a plan by Cedars-Sinai, California’s largest hospital, to ship stray dogs from Mexico into California for experiments.|
|1988||Investigation||PETA conducts an investigation at biotechnology company Biosearch Technologies, marking the first time it goes inside a cosmetics and household products testing laboratory. PETA uncovers more than 100 violations of federal and state anti-cruelty laws.|
|1989||PETA co-founder Alex Pacheco opines, “Arson, property destruction, burglary, and theft are acceptable crimes when used for the animal cause.”|
|1990||July||Publicity||“Meat Stinks” – filmed with Grammy winner k.d. lang, becomes PETA’s first sensational vegetarian commercial.|
|1990||Activism||PETA goes public with video footage showing Las Vegas “entertainer” Bobby Berosini beating orangutans with a metal rod. As a result, the United States Department of the Interior revokes Berosini’s captive-bred wildlife permit, making it illegal for Berosini to buy or sell orangutans.|
|1991||Activism||Arguing against dolphin captivity, PETA launches a campaign against the new dolphin facility at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Three years later, PETA's executive vice president is arrested at the aquarium during a protest. In June 2016, the aquarium announces that it will release all the captive bottlenose dolphins to a first-of-its-kind sea sanctuary.|
|1991||Activism||PETA launches the “Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” campaign with the help of the popular rock band The Go-Go’s, to raise awareness of the millions of animals who are trapped, drowned, beaten, and electrocuted for their fur.|
|1992||February 18)||Demonstration||PETA’s “Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” campaign is launched in Tokyo outside a Japanese fur expo. Led by PETA staff member Dan Mathews and Julia Sloane, the protest makes headlines around the world and leads to PETA’s iconic naked celebrity ad series.|
|1992||Demonstration||PETA and hundreds of other activists stay up against the largest pigeon slaughter in the United States in Hegins, Pennsylvania. The action lands PETA President Ingrid Newkirk and later PETA Senior Vice President of Communications Lisa Lange in jail for 12 days.|
|1993||Activism||PETA persuades General Motors to become the first company to stop using animals in automobile crash tests. Other companies soon follow.|
|1994||Activism||PETA supporters occupy Calvin Klein‘s office in New York. The action leads to a meeting between the designer and a PETA representative. Short after, Klein announces that he will no longer design with fur, the first major fashion designer to do so.|
|1995||Legal|| People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals v. Doughney case: Michael Doughney registers the domain name |
|1995||Activism||PETA persuades oil companies such as Mobil, Texaco, Pennzoil, Shell, and other oil companies to cover their exhaust stacks after showing how millions of birds and bats have become trapped in them and been burned to death.|
|1995||Legal||PETA’s efforts leads to the first-ever cruelty charges filed against a factory farmer for cruelty to chickens for allowing tens of thousands of chickens to starve to death. The president of the company ultimately pleads guilty.|
|1996||Facility||PETA moves base from Rockville, Maryland to Norfolk, Virginia.|
|1996||Activism||Following PETA’s campaign, NASA cancels a joint U.S., French, and Russian experiment in which monkeys wearing straitjackets are to have electrodes implanted in their bodies and be launched into space.|
|1997||Activism||Following the McLibel verdict, PETA writes to American fast food company McDonald's, asking the company to take steps to alleviate the suffering of animals killed for its restaurants.|
|1997||Investigation||A fur farmer in Illinois pleads guilty to cruelty to animals after a PETA investigator documents foxes with painful, untreated injuries by anal electrocution.|
|1998||Policy||PETA succeeds in getting Taiwan to pass its first-ever law against cruelty to animals after the group rescues countless dogs from being beaten, starved, electrocuted, and drowned in Taiwan’s pounds.|
|1998 – 2004||PETA reportedly euthanizes more than 12,400 dogs, cats, and other animals at its headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia in that period.|
|1999||Campaign||PETA launches the “McCruelty” campaign, in alusion to McDonald's. Aiming to inform consumers about the rampant abuse of animals in the meat industry, the campaign would result in hundreds of protests at McDonald's restaurants across the United States.|
|1999||Campaign||PETA reaches the attention of The White House and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the launch of the International Grassroots Campaign (IGC). “PETA’s grassroots campaign, Congressional testimony, and scientific documentation drive the White House and the EPA to spare 800,000 animals from chemical toxicity testing in the high production volume chemical-testing program.”|
|1999||Investigation||PETA releases hours of undercover footage showing systematic cruelty at Belcross Farm, a pig-breeding factory farm in North Carolina. The Camden County Superior Court later delivers the first-ever felony indictments for animal cruelty by farm workers.|
|2000||January||Branch||PETA India is launched. It is based in Mumbai.|
|2000||Activism||As a result of PETA’s campaign against Indian leather, American retailer Gap Inc., and other large clothing retailers, agree to stop using leather from India.|
|2001||September||Following the September 11 attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., PETA issues a press release stating the following: “Due to the tremendous loss of human lives, there will undoubtedly be many animals left orphaned. Other animals are trapped in buildings that have been evacuated and to which people have learned they are unable to return. PETA's headquarters is receiving calls from desperate New York City residents whose companion animals are trapped inside now vacated apartments, some so close to the World Trade Center that the animals inside can only be highly traumatized by the explosions, the sirens, the noise, the shaking ground, the smoke, and now the unexplained absence of their families.”|
|2001||Activism||PETA launches the Kentucky Fried Cruelty campaign.|
|2002||Activism||PETA’s efforts leads to the confiscation of six polar bears from a tropical circus, in which they were underfed, whipped, and forced to perform in hot temperatures.|
|2005||Activism||PETA launches campaign “Are Animals the New Slaves?”, seeking to compare animals to slaves. The campaign features an exhibit in Montgomery, Alabama, the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement, which draws analogies between the past enslavement of African Americans and present-day cruelty to animals.|
|2005||Policy||Following PETA’s campaign, companies such as Honda, PUMA, Keds, and other companies pull their commercials featuring great apes. Several corporations pledge never to use great apes in advertising in the future.|
|2006||Branch||PETA opens an office in Los Angeles.|
|2006||Notable death||When Australian zookeeper Steve Irwin dies, PETA's vice-president Dan Mathews says Irwin has made a career out of antagonizing frightened wild animals.|
|2007||December||Product||PETA releases browser game Super Chick Sisters, parodying Super Mario Bros, in order to spread its idea of Kentucky Fried Cruelty. Within the game, KFC and especially Colonel Sanders is portrayed as evil and self-serving.|
|2009||Policy||After receiving the video of PETA’s exposé of extreme suffering in the trade in exotic-animal skins, Swedish multinational clothing-retail company H&M becomes the first retailer to adopt a policy banning products made from exotic skins in all of its 1,800 stores worldwide.|
|2009||December||Product||PETA releases browser game New Super Chick Sisters, featuring McDonald's and Ronald McDonald as the villain, in criticism of how McDonald's McNuggets are made. PETA claims that McDonald's chickens have been treated poorly and says, "There is a less cruel method of slaughter available today that would eliminate these abuses, yet McDonald's refuses to require its U.S. and Canadian suppliers to switch to it."|
|2011||Collaboration||PETA works with Panamanian actress Patricia de Leon to reduce support for bullfighting among Hispanic people.|
|2014||Activism||PETA sterilizes 10,950 cats and dogs, including 851 pit bulls and 584 feral cats, at a discounted rate or free of charge.|
|2016||Early||Investigation||PETA investigators travel to South Africa to get never-before-seen access to the largest ostrich slaughter companies in the world, including the exclusive supplier of ostrich skins for Hermès birkin bags. These slaughterhouses also supply ostrich skins to Prada, Louis Vuitton, and other top European fashion houses.|
|2016||February||Program||PETA’s fleet of mobile clinics perform a record-breaking 1,304 spay and neuter surgeries in just 29 days.|
|2016||December||Investigation||PETA releases a video showing chickens suffering on farms in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, England, which supply Marks & Spencer.|
|2017||May||Investigation||PETA releases photos of horrific conditions on a “broiler” chicken farm in Suffolk, England, showing birds who have lost their feathers because of stress and ammonia burns and dead chickens thrown into a bin to rot.|
|2017||July||Investigation||PETA publishes footage of the conditions on a “free-range” egg farm in Cambridgeshire, England, showing sick and dying birds crammed into a dark shed. The footage proves that while “free-range” labels might deceive consumers into feeling better about purchasing eggs, they do little to protect chickens.|
|2017||October||Activism||Nearly 20,000 PETA supporters contact Kettering Borough Council in England, urging it to reject plans for a cruel pig farm which would send over 3,500 pigs a year to slaughter.|
|2017||December||Activism||A petition is submitted to South Staffordshire Council. Nearly 7,000 PETA supporters' signatures, it urges the Council to reject plans for an intensive turkey farm that would condemn 60,000 gentle birds a year to a miserable life and terrifying death.|
|2017||December||Following nearly 5,000 emails from PETA supporters, Huntingdonshire District Council in England announces that it has rejected plans for a "cruel chicken farm" and abattoir near Peterborough.|
|2018||January||Activism||Over 5,000 PETA supporters sign a petition to Argyll and Bute Council in Scotland, urging it to reject plans for an intensive caviar farm that would keep sturgeons confined in stressful, unnatural conditions before subjecting them to a cruel, bloody death.|
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