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.
Our use and abuse of farmed animals is universal — wherever you are, whatever country you visit.
pigs, turkeys, chickens, and cattle brought into this world only to be raised to be killed for human consumption
goats and cows bred to be milk machines, only to be killed when they’re no longer productive
donkeys and horses bred for use — often sold to be slaughtered for human consumption
Such were the stories of the animals we met in Italy.
BUT as much as cruelty and desensitization is universal, so is COMPASSION AND ADVOCACY.
We include visits to animal sanctuaries on all of our Joyful Vegan Trips (where possible) because not only is it meaningful to connect with animals, it’s also so meaningful to meet good people around the world doing vital work to protect animals:
Depending on what you focus on, you can find reasons for despair or reasons for hope, and this episode is all about giving you reason for some optimism. Listen to the episode Good News for Animals: 10 Reasons for Hope, and for a full account of these 10 good-news stories, along with links and photos, visit the blog post called Good News for Animals and Nature (2022).
As another year comes to a close, I wanted to give you 10 reasons to be hopeful for animals and nature by focusing on some good news from 2022. Depending on what you focus on, you can find many reasons for despair or many reasons for hope, and I’m here to you some of the latter. (You can also listen to the Food for Thought podcast on the same topic.)
Make no mistake, however: optimism is not complacency.
Acknowledging victories provides an opportunity not only for well-deserved celebrations, but also for examining what tactics are working and what projects we may want to get involved in or support.
My hope is not complacent; it’s provisional. It’s the difference between wanting things to change and taking action to facilitate that change.
And so, here are 10 Reasons to be hopeful for animals and nature — just from 2022 alone!
1. Companion animals are no longer considered inanimate objects under Spanish law.
While it might be obvious to you and me that animals are sentient beings, this is not reflected in civil or criminal law in most places. While “livestock” animals are still considered property in many cities and countries throughout the world, more and more, dogs and cats are being given legal status that protects them in both criminal and civil cases. With the passage of this law in Spain, the welfare of dogs and cats must be considered in divorce proceedings, for example. They will no longer be able to be seized, abandoned, or separated from one of their human guardians in the case of a divorce or separation, without their wellbeing and welfare being taken into account.
2. In Wyoming, miles of fencing are being removed to help wildlife migrate.
Scientists conservatively estimate that more than 600,000 miles of fences crisscross the American West, hindering wild animals from moving around freely and safely. In some cases, the fences are simply left-over remnants that were erected decades ago and no longer serving any purpose. In others, they were constructed with little thought about their impact on other species.
Today, through an emerging field of research known as fence ecology, land managers and conservation groups in the United States are increasingly aware of how fences can harm wild animals. And they are beginning to push for fence removal or replacement as a solution that many otherwise-at-odds constituents can get behind. In Wyoming, the Absaroka Fence Initiative — a public-private partnership between willing landowners and land managers — sees volunteers, landowners, and federal agencies working together to help wildlife by removing miles and miles of fencing.
3. 400 years after they were hunted to extinction, beavers are now a protected species in England.
As of October 1st, 2022, it is illegal to deliberately capture, injure, kill or otherwise disturb the charismatic rodents, who have reclaimed a foothold in their native land in recent years. Beavers — known as “nature’s engineers” because of their industrious dam-building skills — create wetlands, which are an important habitat for many plants and animals. In doing so, they also prevent flooding and drought-related problems such as wildfires by keeping water in the land. While new incoming governments can always change this law, this is welcome news for now.
4. The largest wildlife crossing in the United States breaks ground.
In April 2022, construction began for a long-awaited a $90-million wildlife crossing above the US-101 Freeway in Agoura Hills in southern California. This is the result of a 20-year campaign to create an easier path of travel for mountain lions, foxes, and other wildlife to cross 10 lanes of Highway 101 without encountering a single car.
The efforts to save both animals and people have led to a proliferation of road crossings for animals along traditional migration routes and other crucial locations around the world. The practice originated in France in the 1950s and quickly spread to the Netherlands, which now is home of the world’s longest wildlife bridge at .5 miles (.8 km). According to the Federal Highway Administration, about 300,000 wildlife collisions happen on U.S. roadways each year, and those are just estimates. Many smaller animal deaths never get reported. This new bridge will save thousands of lives.
5. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef shows the best signs of coral recovery in 36 years.
Two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia recorded the highest amount of coral cover in nearly four decades. While the reef is still vulnerable to climate change and mass bleaching, these latest results demonstrate the Reef can still recover in periods free of intense disturbances. The Great Barrier Reef has suffered from widespread and severe bleaching because of rising ocean temperatures. “What we’re seeing,” said Dr Paul Hardisty of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, “is that the Great Barrier Reef is still a resilient system. It still maintains that ability to recover from disturbances.”
6. 200 nations agree to a landmark deal to promote biodiversity and save species from extinction.
The UN biodiversity conference, known as COP15, has been considered the last chance for nature’s recovery. One of the most significant parts of the pact is an agreement to protect 30 per cent of nature by 2030. This ‘30×30’ target is one of the biggest land and ocean conservation commitments in history. The deal includes a pledge to conservation in the developing world and protections for Indigenous peoples’ rights. Governments also agreed to take urgent action on preventing the extinction of species at threat from human activity and promote their recovery.
7. The largest U.S. climate legislation in history was signed into law.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) commits $370 billion to combat climate change. Aimed at slashing greenhouse gas emissions to around 40% by 2030 and curbing consumer energy costs at the same time, it is the largest federal response to climate change in history and will set the course for substantial changes in how the nation produces energy over the next decade.
Major provisions include major new or expanded funding to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, encouraging a domestic supply chain for electric vehicles and energy storage systems, promoting agricultural practices that capture carbon dioxide, expanding offshore production of energy (both fossil and wind), and providing federal support for energy efficiency. The IRA also includes dozens of new and extended tax credits for renewable energy, electric vehicles, electric transmission, and related industries.
8. In Europe, wolves, brown bears, and white-tailed eagles are making a dramatic recovery.
Some of the top predators are thriving in Europe, according to a major new report commissioned by Rewilding Europe, a charity working to restore wild spaces across the continent. Effective legal protection, habitat restoration, and wildlife reintroductions are all helping to drive species recovery. Among the top predators, the grey wolf is making the strongest recovery. Once hunted to near extinction, 17,000 wolves are now found right across Europe.
9. The urban bee population is no longer declining in The Netherlands thanks to a pollinator strategy.
The native wild bee population in the Netherlands has been declining since the 1940s, but recognizing the crucial role played by wild bees in the pollination of food crops, the government announced a national pollinator strategy in 2018. The strategy included 70 initiatives aimed at creating more nesting sites for bees and strengthening their food supply. Amsterdam has been working on various bee-friendly initiatives that include putting up “bee hotels,” which are a collection of hollow plant stems or thin bamboo that provide space for bees to nest. All of the efforts are working. The latest count of native bees since the project began showed no population decline.
10. A landmark bill will ban the shark fin trade in the United States.
Before the U.S. Senate passed this legislation, 14 states and three U.S. territories had already banned the sale and possession of shark fins. The new bill will prohibit the fin trade across the entire U.S. It’s estimated that fins from as many as 73 million sharks annually end up in the global market. This historic bill bans the buying and selling of shark fins in the United States, thereby removing our country from the global shark fin trade. Shark fins are mainly in demand for shark fin soup, a luxury dish popular in China, Hong Kong and many other places across Asia.
This forthcoming ban follows other measures to protect sharks, including the listing of many shark species on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and a ban on gear that is used to target sharks in the Pacific.
What did I miss? What are your reasons to be hopeful for animals and nature from 2022 or in general? Share your stories of hope with me in the comments below!
Thanks for listening to my NPR commentary about how the food waste we generate affects not just our wallets but the animals we attract to it. Listen below, on KQED’s website, read the transcript below, and please share with friends and family. It’s a perspective that can change the world for animals.
You’ve heard it before: of the edible food Americans buy and bring home, about 40% gets thrown in the garbage. That translates to between $1,300 and $2,200 per household per year. When we stop treating food as garbage, the benefits are manifold — most obviously: saving money. But removing food scraps from our garbage cans is also a benefit to our relationship with the natural world — especially wildlife.
The more food we throw away, the more wild animals come to rely on that food in our trash cans, leading to human-wildlife encounters that can be inconvenient and costly for us and dangerous — often fatal — for them.
Perceiving opportunistic visitors — from the largest bears to the smallest rodents — as a nuisance often ends badly for them, but rather than changing our behavior and removing the tasty buffets that lure them in the first place, we demonize the raccoons, opossums, mice, and rats who rummage through our garbage cans and pay companies to gas, poison, or glue-trap them.
Sadly, this isn’t the only price animals pay for our wastefulness. High mortality rates by vehicle collisions and consumption of toxic non-digestibles are also linked with animals’ attraction to our garbage. Reducing food waste is essential and do-able, especially since we know the main causes of it in our homes:
Buying more food than we need
Being unwilling to consume leftovers
Improperly storing food
And misunderstanding the meaning of “sell-by dates.”
By seeing the food in our refrigerators as valuable rather than disposable means taking responsibility and being resourceful. There’s a reason humans have been canning, pickling, and fermenting foods for hundreds of years. But if that feels too advanced…at least consider:
Making a cobbler out of tired-looking fruit
Making stock from veggie scraps
Freezing chopped herbs before they wilt and so much more…
By literally turning lemons into lemonade, we save money, we save resources, and we save animals.
In today’s episode, I argue that feasting and festivities are a lot more meaningful when they follow a period of deprivation.
12 Days of (Vegan) Christmas Recipe Bundle
WHAT’S MORE: Inspired by the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” I have a brand-new recipe bundle that features recipes that can be served at a single holiday party OR as inspiration for each day of the holiday season. 🎵 On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…🎵
Abstaining from meat, dairy, and eggs during religious holidays has been a tradition for centuries in many religions. In Christianity, for example, during Lent (40 days prior to Easter) and Advent (40 days prior to Christmas), parishioners were forbidden to consume animal flesh as well as as dairy, cheese, and eggs.
In today’s episode, we explore this history and demonstrate that not eating animal products was more common than not, especially during the period of contemplation and contrition leading up to the holy days of Easter and Christmas. I share my own experience growing up Catholic, my memories of Fish Fridays, and the meaning of a common English word whose origins are steeped in religious abstinence.
“Is it vegan to have a service dog?” “Do you think it’s ethical to have service dogs?” “Do you think using service animals is a form of exploitation?” These are the questions I’ve been asked over the years and which I tackle in today’s episode.
Maybe 100 years ago it would have been a joke, but not today. Today, the issue of animal cruelty is being heard at the highest court in the nation, and it’s no laughing matter. Join me in conversation with Josh Balk, vice president of farm animal protection at the Humane Society of the United States as we discuss why animals need to be top of mind all the time.
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