This year marks 25 years of PETA’s special brand of colorful, innovative, and influential activism. 

Back in 1980, the year that PETA was founded, our “office” consisted of a phone and a typewriter in a basement apartment. PETA’s first case was against a chicken slaughterhouse. Then came the groundbreaking and successful prosecution of Silver Spring monkeys experimenter Edward Taub.

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Two and a half decades and 850,000 members and supporters later, the name “PETA” is synonymous with “animal rights.” PETA’s street-theater style demonstrations, bold ads, and hard-hitting undercover investigations have grabbed the public’s attention and started people thinking about the cruelty that animals endure on factory farms and fur farms, in laboratories and circuses. We are revolutionizing the way that the world views and treats animals.


Animal rights is the philosophy according to which some, or all, animals are entitled to the possession of their own existence and that their most basic interests—such as the need to avoid suffering—should be afforded the same consideration as similar interests of human beings.That is, some species of animals have the right to be treated as individuals, with their own desires and needs, rather than as unfeeling property.

Advocates for animal rights oppose the assignment of moral value and fundamental protections on the basis of species membership alone—an idea known as speciesism since 1970, when Richard D. Ryder adopted the term arguing that it is a prejudice as irrational as any other. They maintain that animals should no longer be viewed as property or used as food, clothing, research subjects, entertainment, or beasts of burden. Multiple cultural traditions around the world such as JainismTaoismHinduismNulled, Buddhism, Shintoism and Animism also espouse some forms of animal rights.

In parallel to the debate about moral rights, law schools in North America now often teach animal law ,and several legal scholars, such as Steven M. Wise and Gary L. Francione, support the extension of basic legal rights and personhood to non-human animals. The animals most often considered in arguments for personhood are hominids. Some animal-rights academics support this because it would break through the species barrier, but others oppose it because it predicates moral value on mental complexity, rather than on sentience alone. As of November  2019, 29 countries had enacted bans on hominoid experimentation; Argentina has granted a captive orangutan basic human rights since 2014

Outside the order of primates, animal-rights discussions most often address the status of mammals (compare charismatic megafauna). Other animals (considered less sentient) have gained less attention; insects relatively little (outside Jainism), and animal-like bacteria (despite their overwhelming numbers) hardly any.