PETA’s Council of Animals Takes Washington, DC
“Dear friends, we are gathered here today to discuss the problem of humanity – a problem we, as other-than-human beings, have faced for a long time.”
So begins Coyote’s speech to The Council of Animals: a nearly life-size elephant, rhinoceros, polar bear, and chicken. PETA set out to find a sculptor to help us reach the masses about speciesism and discovered artist Quill Hyde, who created this compelling group. We invited members of the US Congress, the DC City Council, and others to the National Mall to check out the exhibit, and crowds gathered to view it all summer long. One attendee said, “Thank you so much for this warm and challenging exhibit. It is a reminder to people like me to get with life and give it the respect it deserves.”
Coyote, voiced by award-winning actor Edward James Olmos, continues as he addresses humans on behalf of animalkind:
Look around you. Here’s the elephant, with her profound emotional intelligence; the majestic rhinoceros, who communicates with a breathing language; the polar bear, with his resilience to harsh conditions; the chicken, with her superb mothering instincts; and me – the clever coyote.
But our talents, interests, and autonomy are casually overlooked and disregarded because many humans believe other animals simply exist just for them.
This is speciesism, a form of prejudice and bigotry, just like sexism, racism, ageism, or ableism. We must change this rotten belief that, despite our complex feelings, interests, needs, and desires – including the wish to be left in peace – somehow our lives don’t matter.
All living, feeling beings have inherent value and deserve consideration, kindness, understanding, and respect. It’s time human beings recognized this. Will you help them do so?
Do humans know that elephants use their feet to send and pick up low-frequency vibrations through the ground, understanding each other’s messages from dozens of miles away? Grieving elephants shed tears at the loss of a family member and even bury their dead. But despite these remarkable qualities, humans keep elephants in chains and force them to perform stupid tricks in circuses and even kill them to put their heads on the wall.
Do humans know that injured rhinos have come to humans to ask for help after getting caught in barbed wire or being shot? In Africa, birds perch on rhinos’ backs – and whenever they detect danger, they warn them by creating a fuss. Yet rhinos are poached and their homes are destroyed because humans fail to share land with others whose home it has been for millennia.
Do humans know that chickens have a “bravery” gene, which gives them courage? When chicks are still in their shells, their mother clucks softly to them so they can learn to recognize her voice. Chickens recognize human faces – remembering them even after a long time. Yet humans exploit chickens for their flesh and eggs, confining them in cramped, unnatural conditions that cause them suffering, fear, and pain.
And then there’s me. Do humans know that coyotes form lifelong partnerships in which they cuddle, tease each other, build a home, and raise their children together – only parting when one passes away? Yet humans hunt, poison, and trap us, because they fear us, even as we try our best to avoid them.
Despite all our remarkable qualities, humans ignore our cultures and languages and mistreat and exploit us. This. Must. Stop. We’re not “things” to be used and disposed of. We are sentient beings with our own worth.
Let’s imagine a world where our habitats are protected and our right to be ourselves is respected.
This can be our world. But it requires each human to take responsibility for their actions and make choices that respect the well-being of all beings.
Humans, please, listen to us. Stop experimenting on us. Stop eating us. Stop wearing us. Stop forcing us into circuses and loud stadiums full of screaming fans. Stop locking us in cages. Stop putting us in chains. Stop hunting us. Stop murdering us for our body parts.
We are all in this together.
Be Part of It!
Watch a video of Coyote’s speech (link?) and share it with everyone you know. Then please write to us at [email protected] to tell us whether you’ve been inspired to change and, if so, how. Please also sign PETA’s “Declaration of Consciousness.”(link?)