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Monuments of Compassion: Honoring Animal Advocates in the United States

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As a history enthusiast and passionate animal advocate, I firmly believe in acknowledging the pioneers whose efforts shaped the modern animal protection movement in the United States. In my podcast episode, Animal Advocate Monuments and Memorials (Part One), I explore the lives and legacies of four remarkable individuals who dedicated their lives to fighting for animals: Henry Bergh, George Thorndike Angell, Caroline Earle White, and Jack London. Join me I reveal the memorials and monuments that honor their invaluable contributions to a more compassionate world.

Henry Bergh: A Trailblazer for Animal Rights

Henry Bergh, a visionary and tireless animal advocate, founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in 1866. His mission was to protect animals from abuse, cruelty, and neglect. Bergh’s groundbreaking work led to the passing of the first anti-cruelty law in the United States.

To enforce the newly established animal cruelty laws, Bergh pioneered the idea of humane officers. These officers were appointed by the ASPCA and empowered with the authority to investigate reports of animal abuse, cruelty, and neglect. They had the legal right to enter properties, seize mistreated animals, and arrest individuals responsible for harming animals. This was a groundbreaking and innovative concept at the time, as it marked the first instance of law enforcement officers being specifically designated for animal protection purposes.

Today, he is remembered as the “Father of the Animal Rights Movement” and honored with memorials that celebrate his pioneering efforts.

Henry Bergh Monument, Bridgeport Connecticut

P.T. Barnum, the famous showman, circus owner, and unlikely friend of Henry Bergh paid for Henry Bergh’s memorial in Bridgeport as a tribute to the visionary animal advocate’s significant contributions to the welfare and protection of animals.

Water Trough for Horses in Honor of Henry Bergh and the ASPCA in Central Park

The bathtub-shaped granite trough at Central Park’s Sixth Avenue entrance commemorates Henry Bergh, the ASPCA founder, and provides fresh water to animals, known as the “mute servants of mankind.” Donated by Mrs. Henry C. Russell in 1908, its original location is unclear, but later found at Kennedy Airport’s “animal shelter” and then brought to City Hall Park.

Mausoleum and Sculpture Honoring Henry Bergh in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn

The beautiful bas relief sculpture honoring Henry Bergh in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, was thoughtfully installed as a permanent loan below his grave, coinciding with the anniversary of the founding of the ASPCA, a testament to his enduring legacy in championing animal welfare and protection.

George Thorndike Angell: Champion of Animal Welfare and Humane Education

George Thorndike Angell was a prominent lawyer and animal lover who established the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) in 1868. His advocacy extended beyond legal protection, as he also focused on education and awareness to promote humane treatment of animals. Angell’s legacy lives on through his organization’s continued efforts and the monuments that pay tribute to his invaluable work.

Monument to George Thorndike Angell in Boston, Massachusetts

George Thorndike Angell’s monument in Boston, Massachusetts, is a poignant tribute, commemorating his significant contributions as the founder of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) and his unwavering dedication to improving the lives of animals.

George Thorndike Angell Grave, Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts

George Thorndike Angell’s grave stands as a tribute to his tireless advocacy and pioneering work for animal welfare, leaving a lasting legacy in his efforts to protect and care for animals, as the founder of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Band of Mercy.

Caroline Earle White: A Visionary Advocate for All Beings

Caroline Earle White was a dedicated animal activist and the founder of the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) in 1883. She passionately campaigned against animal experimentation and cruelty, advocating for the abolition of vivisection (the use of living animals) in medical research. White’s commitment to the cause and her organization’s achievements have been commemorated through various memorials that highlight her unwavering dedication to animal welfare.

Caroline Earle White Memorials

While there are no physical monuments dedicated to Caroline Earle White that I am aware of, her legacy lives on through the numerous animal drinking fountains built in Philadelphia, inspired by her advocacy. Additionally, her enduring impact is evident in the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS), which continues to champion animal rights and the abolition of animal testing. Stay tuned for more on fountains and Caroline’s remarkable contributions in Part Two of our “Monuments to Animal Advocates” podcast episode. (Listen to Part One here.)

Caroline Earle White is buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Jack London: An Outspoken Voice for Performing Animals

Jack London, the renowned American author and social activist, displayed an unwavering determination to end animal performances in circuses during the early 20th century. Recognizing the cruelty and exploitation faced by animals forced to perform tricks for public entertainment, London used his influential platform to speak out against such practices. Through his powerful writings and advocacy, he raised public awareness about the plight of circus animals, urging for the abolishment of their use in shows. Listen to this episode (and read this blog post) about how London successfully inspired Ringling to remove animal acts in the early 1920s — and how his hometown of Oakland inspired the closing of the largest traveling animal circus 100 years later.

Jack London Square in Oakland, California

The most notable example of a remembrance of Jack London is Jack London Square located in Oakland, California. This waterfront district was named in his honor and features a life-size bronze statue of the author, commemorating his literary achievements and contributions to social activism. There’s also a statue of a wolf (in honor of Call of the Wild and White Fang, the still-open saloon he used to write in called Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon, and a replica of his cabin in Alaska. There’s also Jack London State Park in Sonoma County and the remains of the home he built that was destroyed in a fire.

As I mention in Part One of Animal Advocate Monuments and Memorials, there is so much to say about the memorials and monuments to the people who dedicated their lives to animals, and I’ll be sharing more in Part Two!

In the meantime, please enjoy listening to Part One, and I hope you enjoyed this walk down history lane. For the animals, until next time.

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