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Animals, both domestic and wild, are sentient beings who think, feel, love, and communicate. As such, they are deserving of our love, respect, and protection. Whether a companion animal, a farm animal, or a wild animal, there is much that humans can do to enrich and defend the amazing creatures that we share our lives and planet with.

Animal rights activists play a vital role both in bringing the plight of suffering animals to widespread attention and in changing policies so that the rights of animas are honored. There are top animal rights activists in many fields, including the entertainment industry and the scientific community. We can learn valuable lessons from all of them.

There are many contemporary celebrities using their platforms and money to fight for animal rights. Actress Tippi Hedren established The Shambala Preserve in 1983 as a sanctuary for exotic felines such as lions and servals, and she helped in the passage of The Captive Wildlife Safety Act (2003) which limits private ownership of big cats in the USA.

Talk show host Rachael Ray developed a line of pet food, and she donates a portion of the profits to various animal welfare organizations. Former game show host Bob Barker has donated vast sums of money to animal rights groups, including $5 million to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to stop whaling. He also created a foundation that funds grants for spay and neuter clinics.

Many animal experts exist within the scientific community, and they are staunch defenders of animal rights. Chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall is the founder of a namesake institute that empowers people to make a difference for all living creatures. Cindy Lowry, former Alaska field coordinator for Greenpeace, spearheaded the rescue of three trapped California Gray Whales that brought the USA and USSR together during the Cold War. Ric O’Barry, a former dolphin trainer, became disillusioned with his profession and dedicated his life to saving dolphins. He has fought against dolphin captivity for almost 40 years, and he is leading the mission to end Japan’s savage dolphin slaughter each year.

While most of us are not famous actresses or world-renowned scientists, we can all do our part to support the protection and care of the animals in our world. This includes contributing to organization, or even just calling out mistreatment when we see it.