Animal Rights:

A History

The Deeper Minds Of All Ages Have Had Pity For Animals
Friedrich Nietzsche"



Related links:
Animal Rights: An Introduction

Animal Rights and Why they Matter

What are Animal Rights

Animal Rights: Factory Farming


About think Differently About Sheep

Sentient Sheep

Sheep in religion and mythology

Sheep in Art

Sheep Breeds

Help Our Sheep


Animal Rights

Factory Farming

Animal Rights and Why they Matter

Sentience in Farm Animals

Farm Animal Facts

Why Animals matter:
A Religious and Philosophical perspective

Vegan Rambles

Photograph Gallery


Animals in art

Art Gallery

Clip art


Graphic Quotations

Portrait Gallery: Animals do Not all Look the Same


Useful Links: Action You Can Take


A Memorial to Sooty

A Memorial to Joey

A Memorial To Patch


Important: Please note this article is included for interest only, it is not suitable for serious study as precise accuracy cannot be guaranteed.  Please keep in mind that information included on this website has been researched to the best of my ability and any misinformation is quite by accident but is of course possible.

Not all the links or ideas and philosophies discussed within this section necessarily reflect our views.

Please note that the links to a website called "Animal Rights a History" do not lead to the original website to which I have referenced quite extensively. It is a vegan website with the same name though definitely not the same website. The links will be removed as soon as possible.

For ease of reading quotations appear in a purple font.

Animal Rights History

So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind
Is all the sad world needs.

I am the voice of the voiceless;
Through me the dumb shall speak,
Till the deaf world's ear be made to hear
The wrongs of the wordless weak.
From street, from cage and from kennel,
From stable and zoo, the wail
Of my tortured kin proclaim the sin
Of the mighty against the frail.

Oh shame on the mothers of mortals,
Who have not stooped to teach
Of the sorrow that lies in dear, dumb eyes,
The sorrow that has no speech.
The same force formed the sparrow
That fashioned man the king;
The God of the whole gave a spark of soul
To furred and feathered thing.

And I am my brother's keeper
And I will fight his fight,
And speak the word for beast and bird,
Till the world shall set things right.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox 1850-1919

What follows is by no means an exhaustive history but rather highlights of some of the main events and persons in the modern animal rights movement and the influence of early history that paved the way to our modern conception of animal rights, an ideology which has evolved continuously over the course of history.

A lot of the the focus during the previous two centuries concerning the history of animal rights centres upon the UK which appears to have taken some lead in the progression of animal rights, however international highlights will be included as far as is possible. This is a vast subject and it would not be practical to include information of a too comprehensive nature. If you require more detailed information I have included links at the end of this webpage.

It is interesting to observe that cave paintings dating 15,000-30,000 years ago rarely show animals being hunted or eaten. Prehistoric man it appears may have revered animals for their many attributes not possessed by man. The idea of the cave man as the hunter is not supported by these ancient artistic depictions.

Cave paintings…are almost entirely of animals and the artists rarely portrayed the animals as being hunted or eaten.
Richard Ryder, Animal Revolution "The Ancient World

The beginnings of a change in attitude by human beings towards their fellow creatures with whom they share the earth began with man's domestication of animals some eight thousand years ago.

According to anthropologists, around 8 to 10 thousand years ago, in what is today Iraq, people for the first time began the practice of herding -- owning and confining animals for food – first it was wild sheep and goats, and around 2,000 years later, cows, and eventually other animals. This was, I believe, the last major revolution that our culture experienced, and it changed our culture, and us who are born into this culture, in a fundamental way. For the first time, beings were reduced to mere property commodities, rather than being mysterious, autonomous, and respected cohabitants of the Earth with us. This changed the essential orientation of the culture, and a wealthy elite emerged that owned livestock as their wealth, the first large-scale wars evolved, and indeed, the first word for war that we know of is the old Sanskrit word “gavyaa,” which means “the desire for more cattle.” Capitalism (from the Latin “capita,” meaning “head” as in head of cattle and sheep) emerged with warfare as profitable for the wealthy livestock-owning elite, along with the ownership of humans as slaves—often people vanquished in war—and the systematic reduction in the status of women, who by the arrival of the historic period, roughly three thousand years ago, were bought and sold as chattel property. The reduction of wild animals to the status of pests because they could threaten the herders’ capital, and the development of science as a method of dominating animals and nature followed, as did the arising of a new and different role model for boys of the macho male herder, tough, disconnected, and capable of extreme violence and cruelty toward both animals and rival herders. This bellicose culture spread gradually and relentlessly throughout the eastern Mediterranean, eventually to Europe, and to the Americas and is still spreading, and we are born into this culture, which has the same basic attitudes, behaviors and practices to this day.

Shortly after the beginning of the historic period, roughly 2,500 years ago, we have the first cases of prominent and respected people urging compassion to animals and what we would call today veganism.

History and Evolution of the Animal Rights Movement: will Tuttle PHD "

The struggle against animal cruelty, the promotion of animal rights and the welfare of animals has taken place to some degree throughout the course of history, below are some of the advocates involved, their actions and words. Some are well known, others less so. Of course animal rights as a concept was not known in times past and many of those who have been influential in the progression towards this ideology may have only supported a limited change in the way animals are perceived and treated. Others may have had only an unintentional influence on the way we treat animals, but the people below most certainly have had an influence on the progressive rise of animal rights.

Lets begin with the influencing effects of religion upon animal rights. After which I have included people of note in a timeline beginning with the ancient world to the present day.

Click on the links after each time period to access more detailed information concerning some of the advocates of the ethical treatments of animals.

If you wish to go straight to  a particular time period click the appropriate link below:

Religion The ancient world - Greece, Rome and India
The Dark and Middle Ages 15th to 17th century
The Eighteenth Century The Nineteenth century
The Present day: The Twenty and Twenty-first Century  
The Future of Animal rights  


Central to most religious faiths is the sanctity of life.

Concern over animal suffering and adopting a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is by no means a modern idea. Ancient Buddhist, Hindu and Jain scriptures advocate the ethics of a vegetarian/vegan diet.

An important belief of the aforementioned religions, all of which originated In India, is the ideal of Ahimsa a Sanskrit term meaning to do no harm, no violence.  Ahimsa is a rule of conduct that prohibits the killing or injuring of all living beings. It is closely connected with the idea that all kinds of violence bring about negative karmic consequences.

Therefore actions which result in the taking of life, directly or indirectly, contradict this basic belief.  Ahimsa of course continues today as a fundamental belief of the above religions, in particular Jainism.

Read more about Buddhism Jainism and Hinduism

It could be said that these religions, based on the ethics of ahimsa were the first advocates of animal rights.

Although some religions may not have an animal rights position as such most religious traditions have some basis for mercy or compassion concerning animals within their ethical teachings to varying degrees, along with an admonition to relieve suffering, which may have had an influence on the way we treat animals.

The ethical treatment of animals has featured also in Islam and Judaism but less directly In Christianity except in the lives, writings and teachings of saints and other prominent figures throughout history, some of whom are included later on in the time line below.

The ancient world - Greece, Rome and India

Philosophers and other Personages of note Concerning Animal Rights

"Slaughter and meat-eating are the most terrible of sins, indeed for him animal slaughter is murder and meat-eating is cannibalism
Empedocles - Greek pre-Socratic philosopher "Fragments: On Purifications".

How we should treat animals and our relationship towards them has been long debated amongst philosophers and ethicists.

Many of the ideas about animal rights can be traced back to the ancient world and Pythagoras may be considered as the first documented Greek philosopher who spoke out about the ethical treatment of animals. He taught that animals should be respected; he opposed the eating of meat and the killing of animals in sacrifices.  Pythagoras believed all beings were kin and that after death souls transmigrated into another body, including a transmigration between man and animals. Therefore to kill an animal may be tantamount to killing an ancestor.

In his biography the Life of Pythagoras, Porphyry writes

...the following is a matter of general information. He taught that the soul was immortal and that after death it transmigrated into other animated bodies. After certain specified periods, the same events occur again; that nothing was entirely new; that all animated beings were kin, and should be considered as belonging to one great family. Pythagoras was the first one to introduce these teachings into Greece.

Ovid, Pythagoras's Teachings: Vegetarianism
"Human beings, stop desecrating your bodies with impious foodstuffs. There are crops; there are apples weighing down the branches; and ripening grapes on the vines; there are flavoursome herbs; and those that can be rendered mild and gentle over the flames; and you do not lack flowing milk; or honey fragrant from the flowering thyme. The earth, prodigal of its wealth, supplies you with gentle sustenance, and offers you food without killing or shedding blood."

Saint Clement of Alexandria, born 150 AD was a Greek Christian theologian and was thought to be the most educated and philosophical of all the Christian fathers said :

"It is far better to be happy than to have your bodies act as graveyards for animals. Accordingly, the apostle Matthew partook of seeds, nuts and vegetables, without flesh".

"The unnatural eating of flesh meats is as polluting as the heathen worship of devils, with its sacrifices and its impure feasts, through participation in it a man becomes a fellow eater with devils".

Sacrifices were invented by men to be a pretext for eating flesh.

King Ashoka of India ca 273-232 BCE taught his people to have compassion for animals and to refrain from harming or killing them.  In one of his famous pillar edits he declares:

"The greatest progress of Righteousness among men comes from the exhortation in favour of non-injury to life and abstention from killing living beings."

Non human animals were included with humans as beneficiaries of his programs for obtaining medicinal plants, planting trees and digging wells.  In his fifth pillar edit King Ashoka decreed protection for young animals and mothers still feeding their young from slaughter, prohibited forests from being burned to protect the creatures living in them along with the banning of a number of hunting practices harmful to animals. He decreed that certain days were "non-killing days," and on these days fish could not be caught, nor any other animals killed. He established wells and watering holes, places of rest and hospitals for humans and animals alike.

Click the links to read more about the following proponents of animal rights, the ethical treatment of non human animals and advocates of a vegetarian or vegan diet from the ancient world.

The Dark and Middle Ages - From the 5th to 15th century

If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who deal likewise with their fellow men.

All creatures have the same source as we have. Like us, they derive the life of thought, love, and will from the Creator. Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them; but to stop there is a complete misapprehension of the intentions of Providence. We have a higher mission. God wishes that we should succour them whenever they require it.
St Francis

During this time period in England a number of prohibitions were introduced against such pass-times as Bear-Baiting, Bull-Baiting, Cock-Fighting, Fishing, Fowling, Hawking, Horse-Racing and Hunting.*1) Although these various enactments were not directly implemented to prevent cruelty to animals, and in some cases were of limited duration, nonetheless these acts - letters, bills and so forth - had a  positive effect on the treatment of animals. Eventually some prohibitions were made permanent by acts of parliament.

However most of the influence in the middle ages concerning the ethical treatment of animals, which may have had a positive effect on our progression towards the modern ideology of animal rights, came mostly from those of a religious persuasion such as those mentioned below.

The patron saint of Wales, St David was a 6th century church official. A native of Wales he founded twelve monastic settlements in Wales, (David's Cathedral now stands on the site of the monastery he founded in the remote and inhospitable valley of 'Glyn Rhosyn' in Pembrokeshire) Cornwall and Brittany and was renowned as a teacher and preacher. He lived a simple ascetic lifestyle, and encouraged his followers to do likewise, and to abstain from eating meat and drinking beer. He is also considered the patron saint of vegetarians probably because of his monastic code of conduct called the rule of Saint David that monks had to pull the plough themselves, drink water only and to abstain from eating meat and instead to eat only bread with salt and herbs.

Perhaps the person of most note concerning the advocacy of ethical treatment towards animals and the evolution of the concept of animal rights and the welfare of animals is Saint Francis. St Francis the patron Saint of animals is remembered for his compassion towards animals and it was said that animals, most particularly a lamb, followed him everywhere. Animals where drawn to him and it is said that his donkey cried when on his deathbed the dying saint thanked him for carrying him around throughout this life. For Saint Francis all creatures were equals not subjects to be dominated, exploited or abused. Saint Francis is considered as a true steward, a caretaker of God's precious creation, a brother to the animals, all animals without discrimination. You can read more about St Francis by clicking the link further down.

Another Christian saint of note for his love and compassion for animals was Saint Martín de Porres.

Born in 1579 at Lima, Peru, he worked on behalf of the poor establishing an orphanage and a children's hospital. St. Martin's love and compassion though encompassed all creatures including animals that many refer to as vermin. It is said that he had a mystical bond with animals. Attributed to him are many miracles including an ability to communicate with all creatures. At the home of his sister he maintained a hospital for cats and dogs, he saw no difference between animals and man and had a deep compassion for both. He treated them with herbs, performed what surgery he could when necessary and  prayed for their well-being. He never passed by any suffering animal who needed his care. For St  Martín de Porres all living beings were sacred

and he loved and ministered to each without discrimination. Like St Francis animals appeared drawn to him by the radiance of his love and he was seen walking through the streets with a following of animals.

Read more about the Christian Saints who had compassion for animals

Saint Kevin of Glendalough St Richard of Chichester St Francis of Assisi

15th to 17th century

Similar to the previous time period a number of indirect prohibitions were introduced that benefited animals. Often these earlier enactments are referenced when newer legislation preventing these and other acts of cruelty towards animals were introduced.

The first legislation directly against animal cruelty in the English speaking world was a bill passed in Ireland in 1635 that prohibited the unimaginable cruelty of pulling wool off sheep and attaching ploughs to horses tails. This bill was the first known animal rights law in history

A little later In North  America in 1641 the first legal code to protect domestic animals in North America was passed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony which stated that: No man shall exercise any Tirranny or Crueltie towards any bruite Creature which are usuallie kept for man’s use.

In 1654 Oliver Cromwell who disliked blood sports such as cockfighting, dog fighting, bull baiting and bull running passed a law which prohibited these acts of cruelty. However in 1659 this law was overturned.

Other Personages of note during this time period concerning changing attitudes regarding the treatment of animals include:

Leonardo Da Vinci 1452-1519   Thomas Wentworth, 1593-1641  

Eighteenth Century

During the eighteenth century Europe saw some of the most shocking and unimaginable cruelty towards animals including the introduction of Bull fighting. It was during the age of enlightenment, as slavery was being challenged, that a comparison between human and animal slavery was being drawn which signalled the beginnings of what may more easily be recognised as the emergence of animal rights. Campaigners for the abolition of slavery and other social injustices including Richard Martin, William Wilberforce and Lord Shaftesbury were also active in the cause of animals. It was during this period that an increase in awareness came about concerning the need for the humane treatment of animals and the recognition of sentience along with the passing of numerous laws. In addition, recourse to a vegetarian diet becomes more prolific. More legislation was introduced against cruel acts to animals. For example:

Penalty of death, or to avoid death, transportation beyond the seas, to any of his Majesty's plantations…for any persons who shall in the night-time maliciously, unlawfully, and willingly burn or destroy any stacks of corn, hay, or grain, barns, or other houses or buildings, kill, or destroy any horses, sheep or other cattle. Prescribed treble damages for any persons who "unlawfully, and willingly maim, wound, or otherwise hurt any horses, sheep, or other cattle…or destroy any plantations of trees.

Burning of Houses Act 1670 *2)

Among the emerging advocates of animals welfare/rights was William Hogarth, credited for the first graphic sequential art which led to present day comics, who used his artistic talent to make a statement concerning the effects of animal cruelly, not only on the unfortunate animals but also to the perpetrator.  A concept that is as applicable today as it was than. This work called The Four Stages of Cruelty, a  series of four printed engravings, depicts the cruel treatment of animals, which he saw with alarming frequency, and what is likely to happen to those who behave in this way.

Hogarth was disturbed by the scenes of cruelty on the streets of London,  and his intention was to correct "that barbarous treatment of animals, the very sight of which renders the streets of our metropolis so distressing to every feeling mind", and his renditions, printed on cheap paper were intended as a form of moral instruction. 

The Four Stages of Cruelty was issued as a warning against immoral behaviour, showing the easy path from childish thug to convicted criminal.

First stage of cruelty: Shows the torture of various animals. The focus of the sequence is Tom  Nero featured in the centre of the plate, assisted by other boys he is shown to insert an arrow into a dog's rectum.

To view a larger size click on the  graphic








Second Stage of cruelty: In the second sequence Nero as an adult who is now a coach driver, is shown ill-treating his horse causing the horse to break his leg. Other acts of cruelty take place in the background including the crushing of a boy playing by a dray as a result of neglect by a drayman who is oblivious to the injury he has caused.

To view a larger size click on the  graphic









Cruelty in perfection: The third stage shows Nero with his victim a women lying on the ground. Now Nero has progressed from animal cruelty to theft and a particularly brutal murder.

To view a larger size click on the  graphic










Reward of Cruelty: In the final sequence Nero is how being dissected after his execution by scientists; this was in keeping with an act of parliament which allowed for those convicted of murder to be dissected. With this final depiction Hogarth warns of the inevitable outcome for those who start down the path of cruelty, beginning with cruelty to animals. Today this sequence is recognised and people who have abused animals in childhood go on to kill humans beings.

To view a larger size click on the  graphic

More more details concerning The Four Stages of Cruelty

John Oswald 1760/1730 - 1793 a Scottish philosopher, writer, poet, social critic and revolutionary argued that modern society was in conflict with man's nature. Oswald stated in The Cry of Nature or an Appeal to Mercy and Justice on Behalf of the Persecuted Animals, that man is naturally equipped with feelings of mercy and compassion. If each man had to personally experience the death of the animals he ate, a vegetarian diet would be far more common. The division of labour, however, allows modern man to eat flesh without experiencing the prompting of man's natural sensitivities, while the brutalization of modern man hardened him to these sensitivities. Oswald was a vegetarian and gave compassion a central place in his philosophy.

A free e-copy of The cry of nature is available  at :

Frontispiece of The Cry of Nature, London, 1791. Caption reads: "The butcher's knife hath laid low the delight of a fond dam, & the darling of Nature is now stretched in gore upon the ground

To read about other advocates of note and their words and actions during this time period visit the web pages below:

Samuel Johnson  Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jeremy Bentham  

The Nineteenth Century

The nineteenth century saw a dramatic increase in social reforms as the educated  became more concerned about attitudes towards and treatment of, the poor, the old, children, and the insane. This concern was extended to
non-human animals.

During this time more significant progress was made concerning animal rights.


From the early 1800s various Acts of parliament, which were once only introduced from the perspective of damage to property rather than animal welfare,  were now introduced to prevent cruelty to animals, beginning with a bill in 1800 against bull baiting, than another 1802 by William Wilberforce, mentioned earlier in the above section, than again In 1809, Lord Erskine introduced a bill to protect cattle and horses from malicious wounding, wanton cruelty, and beating. These bills unfortunately failed to pass into law. 

It was not until the passing of the Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act 1822 to Prevent Cruel and Improper Treatment of Cattle that it became unlawful to mistreat certain animals. The bill which was introduced by Richard Martin would protect sheep, cattle and horses from abuse and made it an offence, punishable by fines of up to five pounds or two months imprisonment, to "beat, abuse, or ill-treat any horse, mare, gelding, mule, ass, ox, cow, heifer, steer, sheep or other cattle."    Any citizen was entitled to bring charges under the Act. This act became the world's first major piece of animal protection legislation.

Most notable of subsequent acts was the cruelty to Animals Act of 1835, which was intended to protect animals from mistreatment. Although the bill did not extend protection to include wild animals the 1835 Act amended the existing legislation of 1822 to include (as 'cattle') bulls, dogs, bears and sheep and to prohibit bear-baiting and cockfighting. This legislation helped to make possible further legislation to protect animals, create shelters, veterinary hospitals and more humane transportation and slaughter.

The animal act of 1835, the result of lobbying by the RSPCA, the establishment of which is discussed later, was repealed and replaced by the Cruelty to Animals Act 1849 with the long title: An Act for the More Effectual Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and reiterated the offences of beating, ill-treating, over-driving, abusing and torturing animals with a maximum penalty of £5 and compensation of up to £10. The Act was amended and expanded to include Vivisection and was renamed The Cruelty to Animals Act 1876. The Cruelty to Animals Act 1835, expanded to include Vivisection and was renamed, The Cruelty to Animals Act 1876. The Act was replaced 110 years later by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

Other countries followed suit passing legislation that protected or favoured animals including, the courts in New York which in in 1822, ruled that wanton cruelty to animals was a misdemeanour at common law. In France cruelty towards domestic animals was outlawed in 1850 when Jacques Philippe Delmas de Grammont was successful in having the Loi Grammont, an act  outlawing cruelty against domestic animals, passed. The state of Washington followed in 1859, New York in 1866, California in 1868, Florida in 1889.

Animal protection and welfare Organisations

In the UK The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) was founded in 1824 by a group of twenty-two reformers led by Richard Martin MP (who earned the nickname Humanity Dick), William Wilberforce MP and the Reverend Arthur Broome in a London coffee shop. It is the first, the oldest and  largest welfare organisation in the world. The work of the RSPCA inspired the emergence of similar animal protection groups beginning with the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Northern Ireland; the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA or SSPCA); Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Australia; the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RNZSPCA); and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

As mentioned above the RSPCA was instrumental concerning the introduction of a number of legislations including the aforementioned 1835 Cruelty to Animals Act and the 1876 Cruelty to Animals Act.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ASPCA , was Founded in 1866 by Henry Bergh. It was the first animal protection group formed in the United States. During his time as a diplomatic in Russia Bergh had become disturbed by the cruel treatment of animals there. After consulting with Earl of Harrowby, the president of the RSPCA, he returned to the united states where he spoke out against cruel practices of bull and cockfights and horse beating. He created the "Declaration of the Rights of Animals," and in 1866, persuaded the New York state legislature to pass anti-cruelty legislation and to grant the newly formed  ASPCA the authority to enforce it.

In 1875 Frances Power Cobbe, writer and social reformer who published articles and leaflets opposing animal experiments founded the Society for the Protection of Animals Liable to Vivisection which later became the Victoria Street Society (VSS) and then the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS), which continues today. This was the world's first organization campaigning against animal experiments. A dispute occurred between Frances Cobbe and Stephen Coleridge, who was than Honorary secretary, concerning his proposal that rather than complete abolition a restriction on vivisection should be advocated, the success of which he hoped would eventually lead to total abolition. Coleridge's argument was that the results of over twenty years of campaigning for total abolition had made no progress.  Frances Cobbe was outraged and as a consequence in 1898 she and other older members left the NAVS and founded the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection BUAV, both groups remain active today.

In 1883 encouraged by events in the England Caroline Earle White founded the first ant-vivisection society in American which is still today in existence.

Other organisations arose in America including the New England
Anti-Vivisection Society founded by Joseph Greene 1895.

For more historical information concerning the founding of NEAVS :

Main website

The American Humane Association AHA was formed in 1877 when delegates from twenty-seven humane societies from ten states joined together in the first forum to unite their missions and combine their efforts. The AHA is an organisation dedicated to the welfare of both animals and children. One of its first tasks was to end the inhumane treatment of farm animals.

Their work continues today

More information

Main website:

This time period saw an increase in concern over wild life, most particularly birds. In 1889 The Royal Society for the protection of birds was founded by Emily Williamson in her own home in Didsbury, Manchester. The charity began as a protest group campaigning against the use of great crested grebe and kittiwake skins and feathers in fur clothing and was originally know as "the Plumage League". The group gained popularity and amalgamated with the ‘Fur and Feather League’ eventually becoming the RSPB the charity continues its work today

Originally the membership consisted entirely of women who campaigned against the fashion of the time for women to wear exotic feathers in their hats. There had previously been some concern about the destruction of native birds such as great crested grebes and kittiwakes which lead to legislation called the Sea Birds Preservation Act of 1869 and the Wild Birds Protection Act of 1880. It was the continued wearing of increasingly more exotic plumes that lead to the founding of the society.

Also during the Victorian era children's societies were founded for the purpose of educating children about wildlife and teaching them to be kind to wild creatures. This was of concern to the newly formed RSPCA which produced a large amount of literature on the matter. Two societies, the Band of Mercy and the Dickie Bird society, were formed which recruited children and required them to take the pledge to be kind to birds and other animals. The Band of Mercy which came under the remit of the RSPCA was formed in 1875. The Dickie Bird Society was founded in 1876 by William Adams the editor of the Newcastle weekly Chronicle. Members were also recruited internationally and all members were required to take the Following Pledge:

I hereby promise to be kind to all living this, to protect them to the utmost of my power, to feed the birds in the winter time, and never to take or destroy a nest. I also promise to get as many boys and girls as possible to join the Dicky Bird Society *4

In England in 1893 Henry Salt, about whom you can read more by clicking the link further down, formed the Humanitarian league, the aims of which were to promote the principle that it was immoral to inflict suffering on any sentient creature. The League opposed both capital and corporal punishment and sought to ban hunting as a sport and strongly opposed vivisection. Included amongst its supporters were Keir Hardie, Thomas Hardy, George Bernard Shaw, Bertram Lloyd and Christabel Pankhurst

Vegetarian Societies

“It is necessary to correct the error that vegetarianism has made us weak in mind, or passive or inert in action. I do not regard flesh-food as necessary at any stage”
Mahatma Gandhi

A mention should be made concerning the rise of societies promoting vegetarianism. Although perhaps less involved in more direct work towards the cause of animal rights or animal welfare such organisations played a role and continue to play an ever increasingly important role in promoting alternative meat free life styles, which would of course have an effect on the progress towards the cessation of the use of animals for food, clothing and other commodities.

This time period saw the emergence of perhaps the oldest organised society in the world promoting vegetarianism: The vegetarian society. The first recorded meeting of the Vegetarian Society was held at Northwood Villa, a vegetarian hospital in Ramsgate, Kent in 1847.  Its first full public meeting was held in Manchester the following year. The societies first issue of its magazine, The Vegetarian, was published in 1848. The aim of the vegetarian society is the promotion, understanding and respect for vegetarian lifestyles.

One of its most influential members was Mahatma Gandhi the pre-eminent political and spiritual leader during the Indian independence movement. Gandhi is perhaps most famous for his non violent protests against British rule In India. Gandhi though is considered by many as more of a philosopher than a statesmen. Often overlooked however is that Gandhi's commitment to peace also included non human animals and Gandhi was one of this eras great advocates of vegetarianism, during his time in London he joined and was a member of the executive committee of the vegetarian society. Another member of note was George Bernard Shaw. The vegetarian society has continued into the twenty-first century

For a more detailed history:

Main website:

Other vegetarian societies emerged that included also abstention from alcohol and tobacco, amongst which in 1875 was the Dietetic Reform Society followed by the London Food Reform Society in 1877. The latter eventually dropped the word "London" from its title to become the the National Food Reform Society before finally amalgamating with the vegetarian society in 1885 after which it became the London branch of the Vegetarian Society.

Further History of the London Vegetarian Society is included in the International Vegetarian Union's article, London Vegetarian Society 1888-1969 :

More in-depth information concerning some of the people who influenced the progression of animal rights during this time period: 

Percy Bysshe Shelley J. Howard  Moore
Charles Darwin Leo Tolstoy
Mark Twain  

The Present day: The Twenty and Twenty-first Century

There is nothing to indicate that an animal values its life any less than a human being values his.
Rosalind Godlovitch, Animals, Men and Morals: an Enquiry into the Maltreatment of Non-humans

The twentieth and twenty first century has seen a great increase not only in the exploitation of animals but also in the growth of animal rights, vegetarianism and veganism.

Such a lot has happened during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, I will therefore only include key events and the persons involved. If you require more comprehensive information there is a huge amount already available on the internet, I have included links to some of the most informative at the end of this page.

What follows are highlights concerning the development of animal rights and animal welfare from the early twentieth century to the present day:

1900 In Britain the Wild Animals in Captivity Protection Act 1900 was passed by parliament, as the name suggests it was an Act for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Captivity. The penalties for infringement included a  prison sentence not exceeding three months with or without hard labour or a fine not exceeding  five pounds.

1. [Definition of "animal" 12 & 13 Vict. c. 92. 17 & 18 Vict. c. 39.] The word "animal" in this Act means any bird, beast, fish, or reptile which is not included in the Cruelty to Animals Acts, 1849 and 1854.r

2. [Cruelty to captive animals.] Any person shall be guilty of an offence who, whilst an animal is in captivity or close confinement, or is maimed, pinioned, or subjected to any appliance or contrivance for the purpose of hindering or preventing its escape from such captivity or confinement, shall, by wantonly or unreasonably doing or omitting any act,… cause or permit to be caused any unnecessary suffering to such animal; or cruelly abuse, infuriate, tease, or terrify it, or permit it to be so treated

To read the entire act :

1906 In addition to highlighting the plight of immigrants to America Upton Sinclair's book, The Jungle, published in 1906, exposed the brutal conditions for both animals and humans in Chicago's slaughter plants.  He likened the slaughterhouse to a dungeon where horrible crimes were committed, "all unseen and unheeded."

Click the link below for a free e-book copy of The Jungle

Founded in 1908 The International Vegetarian union IVU is a union of vegetarian societies from around the world. The IVU succeeded the Vegetarian Federal Union which was established in 1889. The IVU today continues to encourage international co-operation amongst vegetarian societies to promote worldwide vegetarianism.

More detailed information may be found on the IVU's website:

Main Website:

Stephen Coleridge a UK author, barrister, opponent of vivisection and
co-founder of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children wrote, Vivisection:  A heartless science, from which the following quotations were taken

It is manifest that the whole question of man’s rights over and duties towards animals is a moral one which has no special relation to Science; and therefore distinguished men of Science have no more qualification to claim authority to dictate to us about it than have distinguished musicians, painters, or lawyers.
Stephen Coleridge, 1854-1936, Vivisection: A Heartless Science

The knowledge that horrible mutilations may be daily and hourly executed upon the bodies of living creatures with no adequate security for their insensibility, makes very many humane people profoundly miserable; it rises day and night between them and their peace of mind; it haunts their lives waking and asleep; it deprives them of joy in this world which might otherwise be theirs.
Vivisection: A Heartless Science

For free e-book of Coleridge's Vivisection: A Heartless Science click the link below:

Most famous of Coleridge's antivivisection activities was the Brown Dog affair, a controversy which lasted from 1903 until 1910 and centred around vivisection and a stature erected in memory of a little brown dog who had been experimented upon and killed for medical research. This controversy provoked serious riots the like of which was not seen again in the UK until the poll tax riot to March 1990

Read more about Coleridge and the issue of the  Brown dog, a key in the first undercover investigation of animal experiments by anti-vivisectionists, and the subject of the 1903 Bayliss-Coleridge libel case - Dr Bayliss of London University versus the Honorary Secretary of the National Anti-Vivisection Society.

On the 1st November 1944 the Vegan Society was founded by Donald Watson and Elsie Shrigley despite opposition from prominent vegetarians. This day is now celebrated as world vegan day. This was the world's first society promoting veganism,  although since 1909 the ethics of consuming dairy products had been debated within vegetarian circles. Veganism is basically the abstinence from dairy, eggs, honey and the use of any animal deprived products. However Veganism extends further than dietary considerations and involves abstinence from any product of animal origin. The word Vegan, coined by Donald Watson is derived from the Word  VEGetariAN by taking the first three letters (veg) and the last two letters (an) because, as Donald Watson explained, "veganism starts with vegetarianism and carries it through to its logical conclusion."

For more details including a pdf file of the first "Vegan News" click the link below:

Vegan Society main website:

In 1948 a similar society was founded in the USA in California by Dr. Catherine Nimmo and Rubin Abramowitz. In 1960 this would eventually become incorporated in into the American Vegan Society founded by Jay Dinshah.

Other vegan societies were established throughout the world including in 1984, a "breakaway" group from the Vegan Society: the Movement for Compassionate Living, was founded by former Vegan Society secretary Kathleen Jannaway to promote sustainable living and self-sufficiency in addition to veganism.

For a more detailed explanation of what it means to be vegan:

Post 1945

Despite the dramatic increase in animal protection legislation in the nineteenth century, animals still had no rights as such and existing legislation continued to be aimed at human interests rather than those of animals, although animals indirectly received benefit, for instance outlawing cruelty was more about protecting property, the animal being the property of the owner of course. For example laws against pouching were more to do with protecting the land owners financial concerns.

With the dramatic rise of vivisection and the introduction of factory farming in the middle part of the twenty-first century the situation for animals deteriorated notwithstanding the increase in concern over animal welfare during the previous century. For example the number of animals used in research grew rapidly :300 in the UK in 1875, 19,084 in 1903, and 2.8 million in 2005 (50–100 million worldwide), and a modern annual estimated range of 10 million to upwards of 100 million in the U.S.*3 Though the largest influence on the increase in animal abuse resulted from the industrialization of farming, factory farming, where billions of animals are bred and slaughtered for food on a scale not possible before World War Two.

However groups of concerned people arose to counteract the appalling increase in animal exploitation. One of these was the Oxford group, formed in the 1960s by a group of intellectuals who viewed the use of animals as unacceptable exploitation. Psychologist Richard D. Ryder, who was to become an influential proponent in the cause of animal rights was a member of the Oxford Group. Ryder coined the term "speciesism" in a privately printed pamphlet to describe the assignment of value to the interests of beings on the basis of their membership of a particular species. The term speciesism  became the basis of the animal rights movement and in 1989 became an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary. Ryder considered Speciesism as on a par with racism and wrote extensively on the issue. "I use the word 'speciesism'," Ryder wrote in 1975, "to describe the widespread discrimination that is practised by man against other species ... Speciesism is racism, and both overlook or underestimate the similarities between the discriminator and those discriminated against."

In 1964 Ruth Harrison published her seminal book Animal Machines, a critique of factory farming which describes intensive poultry and livestock farming. The book exposed the whole reality of intensive farming and revealed the suffering inflicted on animals as a consequence.

Britain's first farm animal welfare legislation, the 1968 Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act and also the European Convention for the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes was motivated by her descriptions of factory farming methods such as battery hens, veal crates and tether stalls for sows.  In 1986 she was awarded an OBE.

In 1965 an article "The rights of Animals" by novelist Brigid Brophy was published by the Sunday Times. It was this article that encouraged Richard Ryder's own interest, in his subsequent book "Animal Revolution: Changing Attitudes Towards Speciesism" he writes that it was the first time a major newspaper had devoted so much space to the issue. Robert Garner, author of a number of books on the subject of animal rights and professor of political theory at the University of Leicester specialising in animal rights, writes that Ruth Harrison's and Brigid Brophy's articles led to an explosion of interest in the relationship between humans and non-humans, or what Garner calls the "new morality".

The relationship of homo sapiens to the other animals is one of unremitting exploitation. We employ their work; we eat and wear them. We exploit them to serve our superstitions: whereas we used to sacrifice them to our gods and tear out their entrails in order to foresee the future, we now sacrifice them to science, and experiment on their entrail in the hope—or on the mere offchance—that we might thereby see a little more clearly into the present ... To us it seems incredible that the Greek philosophers should have scanned so deeply into right and wrong and yet never noticed the immorality of slavery. Perhaps 3000 years from now it will seem equally incredible that we do not notice the immorality of our own oppression of animals.

Brigid Brophy,  The Sunday Times, October 10, 1965,

More quotes from the article : The Rights of Animals

The bull-fighter who torments a bull to death and then castrates it of an ear has neither proved nor increased his own virility; he has merely demonstrated that he is a butcher with balletic tendencies.
Brigid Brophy, ‘The Rights of Animals’, Sunday Times, 10 October 1965.

Were it announced tomorrow that anyone who fancied it might, without risk of reprisals or recriminations, stand at a fourth-storey window, dangle out of it a length of string with a meal (labelled ‘Free’) on the end, wait till a chance passer-by took a bite and then, having entangled his cheek or gullet on a hook hidden in the food, haul him up to the fourth floor and there batter him to death with a knobkerrie, I do not think there would be many takers.

Opening Paragraph The Rights of Animals’, Sunday Times, 10 October 1965.

The following was originally given as a paper at the RSPCA symposium held at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1977,and published in Paterson & Ryder 1979. The extraction below appears in the Critical Society, Issue 1, Winter 2009/10

The Darwinists Dilemma
by Brigid Brophy

Long, long ago, in 1965, the Sunday Times invited me to write a full-page article on a subject of my own choice. I did so and I gave the article a title, ‘The Rights of Animals’, which I now see, with pleasure, has been attached to this symposium.2

For my part, I picked the title by deliberate analogy with – or, more precisely and more pointedly, by deliberate extrapolation from – the title of Thomas Paine’s book (of 1791 and 1792) The Rights of Man.

In other words, yes, I was deliberately associating the case for non-human animals with that clutch of egalitarian or libertarian ideas which have sporadically, though quite often with impressively actual political results, come to the rescue of other oppressed classes, such as slaves or homosexuals or women. I implied that the high barrier we have put up between the human species and all the rest of the animal species, the barrier to which Richard Ryder presently gave the very useful name of ‘speciesism’, was essentially a class barrier, unjustified by reason and kept in place by the superstition and self-interest of those who were on the privileged side of it.

Continue reading:'s%20Dilemma.pdf


Previously as a researcher in animal laboratories in both the UK and the USA Richard Rydar had been disturbed by what he had witnessed. Consequently in what he refers to as a "spontaneous eruption of thought and indignation," he wrote letters to the editor of the Daily telegraph which were published on on April 7, May 3, and May 20, 1969. Brigid Brophy read them and subsequently put him in touch with with Oxford philosophers Stanley and Roslind Godlovitch, and John Harris, who were working on a book of moral philosophy about the treatment of animals. Along with Harrison and Brophy he became a contributor to the influential Animals, Men and Morals: An Inquiry into the Maltreatment of Non-humans published 1971 a collection of essays concerning our treatment of animals restating the case for animal rights in a powerful and philosophically sophisticated way. This work was said to reinvigorate and inspire subsequent philosophers to develop their ideas.  Also of influence was  Rosalind Godlovitch's essay "Animal and Morals" was published In the same year.

1975 saw the publication of Animal Liberation by Australian Philosopher Peter singer which is regarded as the founding philosophical work of the animal rights movement. After a conversation with fellow Oxford Student and vegetarian Richard Keshen, Singer came to believe that by eating animals he was contributing to the oppression of other species. Singer was introduced to the Godlovitches by Keshen. Singers review of the Godlovitches book The New York Review of Books in 1973 evolved into his first book on animal rights: Animal Liberation published in 1973 . Singer based his arguments on the principle of utilitarianism, the view, broadly speaking, that an act is right if it leads to the "greatest happiness of the greatest number," a phrase first used in 1776 by Jeremy Bentham. Animal Liberation is a powerfully influential and comprehensive account of the conditions in factory farms and research laboratories and is a persuasive argument to stop eating meat. It was whist reviewing the beforementioned book  'Animals, Men and Morals' that singer first coined the term Animal liberation. The publication of animal liberation precipitated a surge of scholarly interest in animal rights.

It is as a result of the infuence of Peter Singer, Richard Rydar and others mentioned above that there has been more controversy and discussion about animal rights in more recent times than the whole of history. The twenty and twenty-first centuries have indeed seen an explosion in animal rights activity and increases in awareness of animal sentience, intelligence and other animal related issues

Animal rights, welfare and activist  groups of the previous centuries have continued to flourish and many more have been established throughout the world.

In 1975 The Animal liberation front was formed in the UK

The people who run this country, they have shares, they have investments in pharmaceutical companies ... who are experimenting on animals, so to think that you can write to these people, and say "we don't like what you're doing, we want you to change," and expect them to do so, it's not going to happen.
Keith Mann, ALF

Shortly after the formation of the Oxford group other groups of animal rights proponents and activists came into being . One such group was an anti-hunting activist group in Luton in 1971 formed by Ronnie Lee a law student, this group became the Band of Mercy, so named after the 19th-century RSPCA youth group mentioned previously. Referring to their actions as "active compassion." the group broke windows and slashed the tires of the vehicles of humter's. The band of Mercy engaged in the first arson attack on November 1973 when they set fire to a Hoechst Pharmaceuticals research laboratory near Milton Keynes. The group claimed responsibility identifying themselves to the press as a: "nonviolent guerrilla organization dedicated to the liberation of animals from all forms of cruelty and persecution at the hands of mankind."

After spending one year in prison, part of a three year sentence, in 1976 Lee  and the remaining band of mercy along with some new members formed a new movement "The Animal Liberation Front" (ALF)

Active in thirty eight countries the ALF operates as a leaderless resistance.

The ALF perceive themselves as a modern Underground Railroad - the informal 19th century network that helped slaves escape from the U.S. to Canada - passing animals, who have been removed from farms and laboratories by ALF cells to sympathetic veterinarians, to safe houses and finally to sanctuaries. Some activists are more militant in their approach which has lost the group some sympathy in mainstream public opinion. The tactics of some ALF activists are against the ideals of the many animal rights advocates who generally wish to tackle the problem from a more peaceful non militant approach. 

In the United states in 1980: Henry Spira became the most prominent of the new animal activists and did much to stop animal testing for cosmetics industry and is widely regarded as one of the most effective animal rights activists of the twentieth century. He was an advocate of gradual change and introduced the concept of "reintegrative shaming," which involves encouraging opponents to change by working with them, often privately rather than publically vilifying them only as a last resort. In 1974 Spira founded  Animal Rights International after he attended a course on "Animal Liberation" given by Peter Singer at New York University. His first campaign against animal testing, for which he is particularly remembered, opposed experiments conducted by the American Museum of Natural History in 1978 where cats were being experimented on for sex research, he was successful in persuading them to stop.

His greatest achievement came in 1980 when he convinced the cosmetics company Revlon to stop the use of a painful tests for toxicity, the Draize test, which involved ingredients being dripped into the eyes of rabbits. He took out full-page advertising in a number of newspapers including the New York times. The advertisement showed a rabbit with sticking plaster over his eyes with the caption: "How many rabbits does Revlon blind  for beauty's sake?"

A rabbit after undergoing the Draize test

The result was that Revlon stopped animal testing and donated money to set up a Center for Alternatives to Animal testing which has worked with scientists since 1981 to find new methods to replace the use of laboratory animals in experiments, reduce the number of animals tested, and refine necessary tests to eliminate pain and distress. Other cosmetic companies followed suit donating money to finding alternative methods.

Many animal rights groups have since adopted Spira's approach, such as  PETA People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The abolitionists though maintain that this approach to animal rights aligns them more to animal welfarists rather than animal rights groups. Abolitionists maintain that such an approach takes the movement back to its roots in animal welfare, rather than moving toward the paradigm shift the abolitionists want to see, whereby humans stop seeing animals as property, rather than as property to be treated kindly.

In 1992 Switzerland passed an amendment recognising animals as beings rather than as things. Although, in 1999 the Swiss constitution was completely rewritten.  

In 1994 the Great Ape Project GAP, an international movement, was created.

The Great Ape Project GAP

A chimpanzee is not a pet and can not be used as an object for fun or scientific experiment. He or she thinks, develops affection, hates, suffers, learns and even transmits knowledge. To sum it up, they are just like us. The only diffrerence is that they don’t speak, but they communicate through gestures, sounds and facial expressions. We need to garantee their rights to life and to liberty.
Dr. Pedro A. Ynterian, the founder of GAP Brazil and Director of GAP International since 2006.

Founded in 1994 as a result of ideas developed in a book of the same name, written by philosophers Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singe, GAP is an international organization based in Brazil of primatologists, anthropologists, ethicists, and other experts who advocate a United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Great Apes that would confer basic legal rights on non-human great apes: chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans. The rights suggested are the right to life, the protection of individual liberty, and the prohibition of torture.

Once rights for apes are established GAP would demand the release of all great apes from any form of captivity including medical research

The project is supported by Jane Goodall and Richard Dawkins whose articles are included in the book, Great Ape Project, wherein the authors argue that if Great Apes display similar intelligence, social emotional and cognitive skills as human beings then they deserve the same rights  and considerations. To support this the book focuses on findings that  corroborate the capacity of great apes for intelligence and rationality, as creatures who are self-conscious, aware of themselves as distinct beings with a past and a future. At the basis of these findings are conversations with great apes in sign language.

Below you can read the essays of two of the contributors to the book: 

Gaps in the Mind
by Richard Dawkins
In PAOLA CAVALIERI & PETER SINGER (eds.), The Great Ape Project
New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1993, pp. 81-87

You appeal for money to save the gorillas. Very laudable, no doubt. But it doesn't seem to have occurred to you that there are thousands of human children suffering on the very same continent of Africa. There'll be time enough to worry about gorillas when we've taken care of every last one of the kiddies. Let's get our priorities right, please!

This hypothetical letter could have been written by almost any well-meaning person today. In lampooning it, I don't mean to imply that a good case could not be made for giving human children priority. I expect it could, and also that a good case could be made the other way. I'm only trying to point the finger at the automatic, unthinking nature of the speciesist double standard. To many people it is simply self-evident, without any discussion, that humans are entitled to special treatment. To see this, consider the following variant on the same letter:

You appeal for money to save the gorillas. Very laudable, no doubt. But it doesn't seem to have occurred to you that there are thousands of aardvarks suffering on the very same continent of Africa. There'll be time enough to worry about gorillas when we've saved every last one of the aardvarks. Let's get our priorities right, please!

This second letter could not fail to provoke the question: What's so special about aardvarks? A good question, and one to which we should require a satisfactory answer before we took the letter seriously. Yet the first letter, I suggest, would not for most people provoke the equivalent question: What's so special about humans? As I said, I don't deny that this question, unlike the aardvark question, very probably has a powerful answer. All that I am criticising is an unthinking failure to realise in the case of humans that the question even arises.

The speciesist assumption that lurks here is very simple. Humans are humans and gorillas are animals. There is an unquestioned yawning gulf between them such that the life of a single human child is worth more than the lives of all the gorillas in the world. The 'worth' of an animal's life is just its replacement cost to its owner — or, in the case of a rare species, to humanity. But tie the label Homo sapiens even to a tiny piece of insensible, embryonic tissue, and its life suddenly leaps to infinite, uncomputable value.

This way of thinking characterises what I want to call the discontinuous mind

Continue reading

by Richard Ryder

In PAOLA CAVALIERI & PETER SINGER (eds.), The Great Ape Project
New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1993, pp. 220-222

Chimpanzees make love rather like humans do, but they do not usually run the risk of contracting syphilis. Not unless they are in a laboratory. An image that ever haunts me is the photograph reproduced in a Danish medical journal of the 1950s of a pathetic little chimpanzee dying of experimental syphilis, covered in skin lesions. I used it in my first two animal rights leaflets of 1970.[1]

Precisely because our chimpanzee cousins overlap more than 98 per cent of their genes with us they have been, and continue to be, mercilessly exploited in science. Their only protection has been their cost.

Chimpanzees share with us tool-making and tool-using capacities, the faculty for (non-verbal) language,[2] a hatred of boredom, an intelligent curiosity towards their environment, love for their children, intense fear of attack, deep friendships, a horror of dismemberment, a repertoire of emotions and even the same capacity for exploitative violence that we ourselves so often show towards them. Above all, of course, they show basically the same neural, behavioural and biochemical indicators of pain and distress.

Genetic engineering involving the production of new species of animals (sometimes containing human genes, as in the case of the Beltsville pigs and some cancer-prone mice) is making a nonsense of our traditional morality, based as it is upon speciesism. For centuries, and even today, the lay person has attached far too much importance to species differences, unaware that the boundaries between species are far from impermeable. Lions and tigers can interbreed and produce hybrids which are themselves fertile. Species of the Primate order (of which the human is a member) can also interbreed, although I know of no attested case, yet, of human interbreeding with any of the other apes: sexual attraction across species does not seem strong and mating could, at least in its natural form, prove highly dangerous for the physically weaker human partner!

Chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans, more than any other species, are intuitively recognised as our kin. Yet the implications of Darwinism - that biological kinship could entail moral kinship - are still resisted by vested interests and commercially motivated speciesism. It is interesting that in some instances, trading in chimpanzees for laboratory use has been an activity selected by people with an alleged Nazi background - speciesism, as it affects chimpanzees, appears psychologically close to racism.
Continue reading:

"GAP is an international movement that aims to defend the rights of the non-human great primates - chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and bonobos, our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. The main rights are: the right to life, the protection of individual liberty and the prohibition of torture. GAP Project Brazil began its activities on 2000 and nowadays has four chimpanzees sanctuaries affiliated to it. The majority of the chimps kept in the sanctuaries were rescued after years of mistreating and low quality life caused by humans in circus, zoos or entertainment activities. Nowadays GAP Project Brazil is the headquarters of GAP Project International."

From the home page of the Gap's website In English

The project has tasted success when in 1999 New Zealand banned most experimentation on "non-human hominids." There are however loopholes that allow for testing if it is "in the best interests of the non-human hominid." Peter Singer said that the New Zealand Law "may be a small step forward for great apes, but it is nevertheless historic. It's the first time that a parliament has voted in favor of changing the status of a group of animals so dramatically that the animal cannot be treated as a research tool."

It was hailed as a significant victory by the The National Anti-Vivisection Society NAVS and other animal protection groups when the testing of cosmetics on finished products was banned in the UK In 1998 after years of campaigning. There were however some exceptions to the ban including compounds that have both cosmetic and medical uses, such as those in the "anti-wrinkle" preparations Zyderm, Restylane and Botox, were still bound by the regulations requiring animal testing.

In addition to the before mentioned other contemporary names of importance in the animal rights movements are Tom Regan whose writings include A case for Animal Rights and James Rachels who wrote the thought provoking book: Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism. You may read more in depth information about Tom Regan  and James Rachels by clicking the links further down.

Twenty first century

In 2000, the High Court of Kerala in India handed down an opinion that states, "It is not only our fundamental duty to show compassion to our animal friends, but also to recognize and protect their rights. ... If humans are entitled to fundamental rights, why not animals?"

In 2002 Germany become the first European Union country to guarantee animal rights in its constitution, a move which could result in the cessation of animal experimentation by the cosmetics and pharmaceuticals industries.

Legislation banning fox hunting may be considered as significant progress in ending the barbaric practice of hunting and a contribution to the cause of animal rights. In 2004 the hunting act was passed. The act outlaws hunting with hounds, although mostly associated with fox hunting the act also includes the hunting of deer, hares and mink. Hunting foxes with hounds however had been banned in Scotland two years earlier by the Scottish parliament.  Unfortunately there is still a very strong pro-hunt lobby which seeks to have the Hunting Act repealed: hunting

Inception of European Union Cosmetics testing ban

With the potential to save the lives and prevent the terrible suffering of thousands of animals every year the progressive ban on cosmetics testing on animals within the European Union commenced in 2004.The ban is in three phases beginning with a ban on the testing of finished cosmetics which has been in place since 11th  September 2004 than from 11th March 2009 a ban on the testing of the ingredients or combinations of ingredients, with some exceptions until alternatives can be found with a cut off deadline of 11th March 2013, regardless as to whether or not such alternatives have been developed.

The Cosmetics Directive foresees a regulatory framework with the aim of phasing out animal testing. It establishes a prohibition to test finished cosmetic products and cosmetic ingredients on animals (testing ban), and a prohibition to market in the European Community, finished cosmetic products and ingredients included in cosmetic products which were tested on animals (marketing ban).

The testing ban on finished cosmetic products applies since 11 September 2004; the testing ban on ingredients or combination of ingredients applies since 11 March 2009.

The marketing ban applies since 11 March 2009 for all human health effects with the exception of repeated-dose toxicity, reproductive toxicity and toxicokinetics. For these specific health effects the marketing ban will apply step by step as soon as alternative methods are validated and adopted in EU legislation with due regard to the OECD validation process, but with a maximum cut-off date of 10 years after entry into force of the Directive, i.e., 11 March 2013, irrespective of the availability of alternative non-animal tests.

More information including a phasing out time table:

Also see

Today sees historic ban on animal testing for cosmetics in the European Union

The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) welcomes this week, the historic ban on testing of cosmetics products on animals.

Although many UK shoppers think that animal testing for cosmetics is already banned, the truth is: animal-tested cosmetics from Europe and elsewhere are still for sale in our major High Street shops.

From March 11th, thousands of animals could be spared suffering, as it will be illegal to:

1. TEST ingredients for cosmetics on animals anywhere in the European Union, regardless of whether or not there is a non-animal alternative method available (testing on the finished products is already banned, but many products contain ingredients that have still been tested on animals)

2. SELL cosmetics in the European Union which have been tested on animals after this new cut-off date of 11 March 2009 (except for certain types of test which will also be banned on 11 March 2013)

Cosmetics testing has been banned in the UK since 1998, which the NAVS hailed as a massive victory after a long campaign. Since 2004, it has been illegal for finished cosmetics products to be tested on animals in the EU when there is a validated alternative available.

However, it has still been possible to buy cosmetics where the ingredients have involved animal testing. Companies could legally put 'not tested on animals' on the packaging as they are referring to the finished product, not the individual ingredients.

Continue Reading

This is a  momentous and significant step in the progress towards the consideration of animals and their right not to be used in experiments. However there is concern that the 2013 cut off deadline will not be met.

A ‘marketing’ ban that will ensure no animal tested cosmetics are sold in the EU is in jeopardy.

This marketing ban allows three types of animal tests to be carried out outside the EU for cosmetics sold within the EU until March 2013. The reason is to allow non-animal alternative tests to be developed and approved (‘validated’).

Now European Commission officials are considering whether non-animal alternatives will be ready in time for March 2013. Already, a report by scientists is recommending that the ban be delayed even longer – for up to 10 years in some cases.

Read more and sign the petition to prevent the possibility of a five year postponement:

Information about cruelty free products


February 2007 A great leap forward in the cause of animal rights occurred in February 2007 when the Balearic Islands, an autonomous province of Spain, passed the world's first legislation that would effectively grant legal rights to all great apes; chimpanzees orangutans, bonobos and gorillas. In June 2008 Spanish parliamentary committee gave its support to a resolution to grant apes certain rights; the rights to life, liberty and freedom from torture, abuse and death. The passing of this resolution will make it illegal to conduct harmful experiments on apes, using them in circuses or for TV advertising or filming.

Great apes should have the right to life and freedom, according to a resolution passed in the Spanish parliament, in what could become landmark legislation to enshrine human rights for chimpanzees, gorillas, orang-utans and bonobos.

The environmental committee in the Spanish parliament has approved resolutions urging the country to comply with the Great Apes Project, founded in 1993, which argues that "non-human hominids" should enjoy the right to life, freedom and not to be tortured.

The project was started by the philosophers Peter Singer and Paola Cavalieri, who argued that the ape is the closest genetic relative to humans – that it displays emotions such as love, fear, anxiety and jealousy – and should be protected by similar laws.

Read More:

See also:

Unfortunately In January 2008 Austria's Supreme Court ruled that Matthew Hiasl Pan, a chimpanzee, was not a person, after the Association Against Animal Factories sought personhood status for him because his custodians went bankrupt. The Association has appealed the ruling to the European Court of Human Rights. The lawyer proposing his personhood, Eberhart Theuer, has asked the court to appoint a legal guardian for Matthew and to grant him four rights: the right to life, limited freedom of movement, personal safety, and the right to claim property.

Read more: scroll down to 21st century: Developments

During the last century many animal rights organisations have sprung up all over the world as the struggle to recognise the rights of animals continues into the twenty-first century. These groups in include activists campaigning against factory farming, vivisection, hunting and other cruel sports, the use of animals in entertainment and other abuses along with groups that promote a change of diet and also farm sanctuaries.

Modern day organisations concerned with animal rights issues

Below is a selection of the many animal rights organisations, sanctuaries, vegetarian and vegan societies and other organisations concerned with the humane treatment of animals throughout the world founded during the last two centuries.

Animal Aid

Animal Aid is a UK animal rights organisation founded in 1977 which campaigns peacefully against all forms of animal abuse, investigates and exposes animal cruelty and promotes a cruelty free lifestyle

Vegetarians' International Voice for Animals

Vegetarians' International Voice for Animals (Viva!) is a UK animal rights group founded in 1994 by Juliet Gellatle. The group promotes vegetarianism and veganism, provides information on how to become vegetarian and vegan and carries out undercover investigations to expose the abuse of factory farmed and other forms of animal cruelty and exploitation.

The Vegan Society

The Vegan Society founded in 1944 by Donald Watson as its name implies promotes veganism. The Vegan Society defines veganism as "...a way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing and any other purpose."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is an American animal rights organisation founded in 1980 by Ingrid Newkirk and Alex Pacheco, it claims to be the largest animal rights organisation in the world, Its slogan is "animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment."

The League Against Cruel Sports

Founded in 1923 by Henry B Amos and Ernest Bell in Godalming UK.

The League Against Cruel Sports campaigns against all blood sports including bull fighting, fox hunting and hare coursing. It also campaigns to ban the manufacture, sale and use of snares, for the regulation of greyhound racing and for an end to commercial game shooting and trophy hunting.


Established in 1993 by Angela Roberts and Lynn Williamson Uncaged  are a peaceful international animal protection group. Their main campaigns are against animal experiments; against xenotransplantation; the global boycott of Procter & Gamble; positive promotion of animal rights and for democratic action on animal issues through the political system.

Farm Sanctuary

Anyone dedicated to the cause of animal rights has most surely stumbled upon Farm Sanctuary's website. Founded in 1986 by Gene Baur and Lorri Houston, Farm Sanctuary is an advocacy for animals promoting laws and polices supporting animal welfare protection and vegetarian and veganism through rescue, education and advocacy. Farm Sanctuary houses over 800 cows, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, pigs, sheep, rabbits, and goats at a 175-acre (0.71 km2) animal sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York. They also house over 400 farm animals at a 300-acre (1.2 km2) sanctuary in Orland, California which, unlike the New York shelter, also houses burros.

In Defense of Animals

IDA INDIA is a non profit grass roots level animal protection organisation, dedicated towards establishing and defending the rights of all non - human living creatures.

Brief History Of IDA

In Defense of Animals, India was born on 31st October 1996. Immediately the project of neutering of street dogs was taken up. A small beginning was made in March 1997 in two garages of a residential colony in a suburb of Mumbai. For three years IDA INDIA worked in small make shift camps. With the intervention of the Mumbai High Court, the Corporation handed over the premises at Deonar to IDA INDIA on 22nd December 1999.

Continue reading a brief history of IDA

Main webpage

Animal Welfare Network Nepal

The Animal Welfare Network Nepal was established in 2008 to increase the effectiveness of animal welfare organisations in Nepal. Its vision: A cruelty free society in which all creatures can live in peace.

Animal Nepal (AN), is an innovative NGO based in Lalitpur District, Kathmandu Valley, and run by an enthusiastic team of volunteers, who are both local and overseas animal welfare campaigners and educators. AN was established as a non-profit company in 2004 and was registered as an NGO in 2009.

For a comprehensive list of similar organisations as those above:

Animal rights has come along way but there is still so very much to be done, the progress sadly is slow. As more progress is made and more items of interest become available concerning the struggle to secure rights for our fellow creatures I will include them here.

Influential figures in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries include:

Henry Salt Romain Rolland Mohandas Gandhi
Albert Schweitzer George Bernard Shaw Tom Regan
Richard Ryder Peter Singer  
James Rachels Isaac Bashevis Singer  

Animal Rights: The Future
Non-human animals today are slaves. Tomorrow they should no longer be slaves.
David Olivier

What is the future of animal rights, will we one day see the end of exploitation, slavery and other abuses towards other species. Will humanity finally wake up to the fact that all creatures wish to live regardless of what species to which they belong, degree of intelligence or sentience. One day will we finally come to realise the interconnectedness of all beings and the moral implication of evolutionary kinship that binds us to all creatures. I hope the time comes when finally human beings will take the last ethical step and grant rights to all animals without discrimination.

Below are the expressed hopes for the future of a number of advocates concerning the liberation of animals and the granting of animal rights and its implications.

Animal Rights and the New Enlightenment

Human beings have made moral progress, but slowly. In Western culture, it took over two thousand years to dismantle the ignorance, prejudice, and biases informing the myths that legitimated inequality, hierarchy, and inferiority as rooted somehow in human nature or the natural scheme of things.

Western society has made rapid moral progress since the 1960s. The student, black, brown, feminist, and gay and lesbian movements advanced the universalization of rights process, overcame major barriers of prejudice, and deepened human freedom.

During this turbulent period of social strife, riots, mass demonstrations against the U.S. war in Vietnam, and worsening problems with poverty, homelessness, and class inequality, Martin Luther King formulated a vision of a “world house.” In this cosmopolitan utopia, all peoples around the globe would live in peace and harmony, with both their spiritual and material needs met by the fecundity of the modern world.

But to whatever degree this dream might be realized, King’s world house is still a damn slaughterhouse, because humanism doesn’t challenge the needless confinement, torture, and killing of billions of animals. The humanist non-violent utopia will always remain a hypocritical lie until so-called “enlightened” and “progressive” human beings extend nonviolence, equality, and rights to the animals with whom we share this planet.

The next logical step in human moral evolution is to embrace animal rights and accept its profound implications. Animal rights builds on the most progressive ethical and political advances human beings have made in the last two hundred years. Simply put, the argument for animal rights states that if humans have rights, animals have rights for the same reasons. Moral significance lies not in our differences as species but rather our commonalities as subjects of a life.

Doctor Stephen Best philosopher writer and activist

Read the complete essay:


Animal Rights: The Future

So, although there are more people concerned about animals and the environment, little progress has been made because those who profit from animal exploitation and the government that exists to serve their interests have a lot to lose and are not budging--not an inch.

But there are signs that the pendulum may, as a general matter, be swinging back. People are starting to realize that democracy has been hijacked by corporate special interests. People are getting tired of the resurgence of racism and anti-semitism. People are getting tired of the rampant and disempowering sexism that has pervades our culture. People are becoming increasingly aware that our "representatives" in Congress are nothing but pawns of the highest bidder, and are so devoid of integrity that they will attack "welfare mothers" as a financial drain on an economy that spends more money on a few new war toys than it spends on the entire system of welfare on a yearly basis. People want change. More and more people are becoming concerned about matters of social justice and nonviolence generally. Many people opposed the Gulf War; we just were not told about them by media that just happened to be controlled by the same corporations that make the bombs that we dropped on a lot of people and animals.

Change will come, sooner or later. We can only hope that it will be sooner rather than later. We can only hope that it will be nonviolent. We must ask ourselves, however, whether that hope is itself morally justifiable in light of the violence that we have caused and tolerated to be caused by others who claim to act on our behalf.

If the animal rights movement is to survive the backlash of animal exploiters, and if the movement is going to harness both its own internal energy and the general level of political dissatisfaction, the movement needs to re-strategize and re-organize in light of the New World Order. Now is the time to develop a radical--nonviolent but radical--approach to animal rights as part of an overall program of social justice.

The solution will not be simple, but we must make a start. Consider the following suggestions:

 Extract from Animal Rights: The Future by Professor Gary L. Francione

Continue reading

The Future of the Animal Rights Movement

Trying to predict the future of the animal rights movement involves seeing what changes have occurred in public opinion or action thus far regarding the moral status of animals in society. Encouragingly, a 1994 article in the Los Angeles Times observed that "In a century and a half of activism, the animal protection movement has transformed the national consciousness, altering how mainstream Americans regard other creatures" (Balzar 1993, A1). A new Los Angeles Times poll showed that half or more Americans surveyed oppose sport hunting and the wearing of fur, and that scientists and protectionists have become joined "in questioning humanity's most deeply embedded relationship with animals--as a source of food" (Balzar, A30).

A good sign coming from the media was the 1994 radio commentary by "20/20's" Hugh Downs, in which he compared the growing realization that other animals "share an inner world as reasonable and as sensible as ours" to the realization which led European Whites finally to become "morally obligated to grant manumission to Black slaves," after centuries of justifying human slavery with the same arguments that are applied today to nonhuman animals. Such thoughts give hope to those who must contend with the flood of animal abuse reports pouring into their offices every day

The Future of the Animal Rights Movement
By Karen Davis, PhD

Please read the complete article:

The Future of Animal rights

Those of us who are of a certain age, like me, are concerned not only with the work to save animals right now but also with what the future holds for the animal rights movement. And thanks to PETA's one-of-a-kind youth outreach program, the younger generation is adopting a compassionate lifestyle like no other before them.

peta2 is the rockin', hip arm of PETA that reaches out to those in the 13 to 21 age bracket to deliver serious animal rights messages in a way that appeals to today's youth. And it is now the largest youth movement of any social change organization in the world. There's always something new and fresh going on over there. PETA makes sure that it's fun to be a part of this group and that members will be inclined to spread the word to other people in school and social gatherings, including Internet contact groups.
There's hope for the future:

The Future of Animal rights
by Steve Martindale  Continue reading the article

Richard Dawkins: a mass consciousness raising

I think what I'd really like to see would be a mass consciousness raising movement, so that we all become vegetarian, and then I mean it would be so much easier for those us who find it difficult to go along with that.

Richard Dawkins

From a Transcript of a conversation between Peter Singer and Richard Dawkins:  

"Peter Singer: Richard you, perhaps you've been set up a little in this, but in discussing things, I wanted to try and link what I said in my session, which I know you and I had a discussion about earlier today, with what you've been saying, because we share a Darwinian view of the world, and one of the claims I made in my session is that the Darwinian view undermines the basis for some of the distinctions we draw between ourselves and animals, undermines the idea that we're special because we were made in the image of God, or that God gave us dominion over the animals. And that if we get rid of these preconceptions, we would take a different view of the moral status of animals. That it would require us to treat them in very different ways from the idea that they're simply things for us to use as we see fit. So I wondered if I could ask you as a Darwinian, whether you share that view?

Richard Dawkins: Yes, let's not say animals, let's say non-human animals.

Peter Singer: Okay, I'd be very happy to do that.

Richard Dawkins: That's consciousness raising, by the way. That's a good example, it's just like what the feminists did with consciousness raising about sex-biased language. It is a logical implication of the Darwinian view that there is continuity between all species, at least theoretically continuity. I am very fond of pointing out that it's an accident of history that the evolutionary intermediates between ourselves, and for example chimpanzees, or actually between any species and any other species, it's an accident that they happen to be extinct. If they were not extinct, and thought experiment would be, suppose we discovered relic populations of Australopithecus, Lucy, in the jungles of Africa. And relic populations of a continuous series of intermediates from ourselves back to the common ancestor with chimpanzees, and a continuous series from that from chimpanzees to the common ancestor with chimpanzees. And let's say that the series is sufficiently continuous, so there's no reason why it shouldn't be, that we could actually mate and reproduce all the way along the chain. So I could mate with a female in the jungle, who could mate with a male, who could mate with another one and we could link all the way in a chain, all the way to chimpanzees.

Now, it is pure historic accident that we actually can't do that. If only all the intermediates had survived we could literally do that. And if that were the case, then the only way we could maintain our present speciesist morality, which draws an absolute wall around homo sapiens, and distinguishes us from every other species on the planet, the only way we could maintain that, under the conditions of the thought experiment that I've I have advanced, would be to have courts exactly like the apartheid courts in South Africa which decided whether so-and-so would pass for white. And when you put it like that, we all of course shrink back in horror from such a prospect, and yet most of us accept without question the presumption that we are a completely unique species. Well in many ways we are a completely unique species, but lots of other species are that. The point I'm making with the thought experiment is that there is a continuum. I've thought about it, and I mentioned this to you this morning about possibly writing a science fiction novel in which this thought experiment is realized, or another way to do it would be to hybridize humans and chimpanzees to produce a natural hybrid. And the point of the novel would be to explore the implications.

What effect would that have on society? What effect would that have on moral philosophy? What effect would that have on religion? It would be dynamite. And I would love, in some ways, not in all ways, but in some ways I would love to see that actually done. It shouldn't be necessary to do it in actuality, because the thought experiment is clear. I mean, nobody could possibly deny, unless they deny evolution of course, but as long as we're evolutionists, as long as we're Darwinians, nobody could possibly deny that. Which means that all of us, who are meat eaters, including me, are in a very difficult moral position. We are, at least speaking for myself, what I'm doing, is going along with the fact that I live in a society where meat eating is accepted as the norm. And it requires a level of sort of a social courage, which I haven't yet produced, to break out of that. It's a little bit like the position which anybody, not everybody, but many people would have been, a couple of hundreds of years ago, over slavery, where lots of people felt kind of morally uneasy about slavery, but went along with it, because, I don't know, the whole economy of the South depended upon slavery. "Of course, none of us like the idea of slavery, but you can't seriously contemplate doing away with it, I mean, you know, the economy would collapse."

So, I find myself in something like that situation. I think what I'd really like to see would be a mass consciousness raising movement, so that we all become vegetarian, and then I mean it would be so much easier for those us who find it difficult to go along with that. And quite apart from that, you'd then have brilliant chefs making wonderful recipes and you wouldn't have to …

Peter Singer: Thank you very much for that.

Source of the

Links of Interest

A. U.S. History
An article containing history of animal rights mostly USA

One Hundred Years of the BUAV
Article about the history of The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection

Animal Rights History

"A wonderful resource for all of us interested in learning more about those who have spoken for the voiceless in the past."
Tom Regan, author of The Case for Animal Rights

A website with a huge amount of information concerning the history of animal rights, from which some of the information included in this section of my website was sourced. A valuable and authoritative resource of information for anyone seriously studying or researching the subject.

Animal Rights: A test of Civilisation by Francisco Martin

A well written article which was a paper presented at the World Vegetarian Congress in Edinburgh in July, 2002

This site is dedicated to aiding the ongoing awareness of the public as to why and how animals in circuses suffer. We believe that by increasing the awareness of the plight of the animals used, it will help lead to the end of their use.





4) Taking the Pledge: A Study of Children’s Nature Conservation Movements in Britain


Lives of the Irish Saints, by the Rev. John Canon O' hann:

Richard of Wyche, labourer, scholar, Bishop and Saint by Sister Mary Reginald Capes:

Thomas Wentworth Act Against Cruelty to Horses-Sheep (Ireland), 1635


  Important please note:

I am not an animal expert of any kind just your average person who loves animals, all animals, and feels deeply about the plight of many of our fellow creatures. Neither am I a writer, or any other expert. Therefore please keep in mind that the information included in this website has been researched to the best of my ability and any misinformation is quite by accident but of course possible.

Copyright, accreditations and other matters, please read