PETA President Ingrid Newkirk Wrote WHAT in Her Will?
An ear to King Felipe VI of Spain … her lungs to the governor of Alaska … a piece of her heart to Elon Musk: Talk about putting your whole self into some final wishes!
Not many people—even passionate presidents of driven nonprofits—write wills with instructions on how to dole out their body parts to benefit an organization's mission. And only one has done precisely that and lived another 20 years—long enough to update her will with increasingly clever requests. Who's doing all this to advocate for animal rights? Ingrid Newkirk, founder and president of PETA.
On the 20th anniversary of the writing of Ingrid Newkirk's original will, she's revised it to help even more animals in even more highly creative ways. PETA has also won so many victories for animals since the original will's release that she was dead set on exhuming and reviving it. Now, for example, instead of receiving an accusing finger for forcing elephants and other animals to perform, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will get a thumb—as a thumbs-up for leaving animal acts in the past.
The will ensures that even after her demise, Newkirk will continue to help animals and honors her commitment that "my body be used in a manner that draws attention to needless animal suffering and exploitation."
Although grisly at first glance, Newkirk's bodily bequests will inspire animal advocates while also encouraging everyone still slumbering in speciesism to wake up:
As cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals continue to be treated badly, and killed for meat, eggs, and bovine mammary secretions, the thought of carving up human flesh for steaks might be just the thing to jolt diners into kindness. "Flesh is flesh, and mine is given, not taken," says Newkirk.
This powerful postmortem act will remind the world that the skin of humans is the same as that of other animals, who don't give it up willingly. Leather is a key part of animal agriculture, which alone is responsible for approximately one-fifth of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. Raising and killing cows for their flesh and skins requires huge amounts of feed, land, water, and fossil fuels. The only truly eco-friendly leather is vegan leather, which is made from an array of innovative, durable, and sustainable materials, including pineapple leaves, cork, and apple peels.
One of these items is to be delivered to Hermès, which supports massive suffering and killing animals in the name of fashion. PETA entities have repeatedly exposed the violent ways workers kill animals in Hermès’ supply chain. Alligators are packed on top of each other in dank pools and crocodiles are crowded in barren concrete pits for months or even years before they’re finally slaughtered for their skin. PETA's investigator documented that workers crudely hacked into the necks of alligators and that one worker tried to scramble their brains with a metal rod. It's crucial for consumers to buy only animal-friendly vegan clothing and to avoid Hermès until it stops selling exotic skins. Many brands and companies, including Macy's, have ditched exotic-animal skins, but others, like Hermès, continue to obtain them by funding horrific cruelty to snakes, ostriches, lizards, crocodiles, and alligators. The lizard tattoo on Newkirk's arm will become a real—but 100% cruelty-free—"lizard skin" purse.
The other item goes to the prime minister of India to remind that nation's government to spare Indian bullocks, who—after a life of extreme and involuntary servitude, as Newkirk has seen firsthand—are slaughtered and their skin exported all over the world to be made into accessories, furniture coverings, and automobile seats. Leather production causes massive animal suffering. Cows killed for their skin are routinely subjected to mutilations, including castration, their horns being burned off or gouged out, and hot-iron branding—all without painkillers. In many cases, cows are dismembered and skinned while they’re still conscious.
Newkirk hopes her broken leg will help end this abusive cycle. It's common practice to administer drugs to horses who are forced to race in order to mask an injury or strain, rather than allowing the animals to rest and recover, which can lead to broken bones and death.
The Kentucky Derby, first held in 1875 at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, is the longest continuously running sports event in the U.S. Twelve horses have died at the track since the week before this year's Kentucky Derby on May 6. An average of three horses die every day on tracks in the U.S. When horses forced to race stop winning, they’re sometimes sold at auction and sent to slaughter.
As a result of the Randox Grand National Festival this year, Envoye Special, Dark Raven, Hill Sixteen, and Hullnback are dead. The death toll continues to rise each year, claiming more lives. Since 2010, 36 horses have died at the festival, which is held annually at Aintree Racecourse, near Liverpool, England, and is one of the most-watched races in the world. The three-day festival concludes with the Grand National race, which is—by design—an accident waiting to happen, as 40 horses compete for space on the 4.5-mile course fraught with obstacles, jumps, and dangerous terrain.
One of Newkirk's eyes will be watching until the federally funded NIH stops financing and conducting billions of dollars’ worth of painful experiments on animals every year and channels that taxpayer money into state-of-the-art, superior, non-animal methods. NIH imprisons hundreds of thousands of animals in its own government laboratories and funds animal laboratories all over the world.
Nearly half of NIH's budget—about $19 billion annually—is used to fund experiments in which animals are burned; electroshocked; deprived of food, water, or sleep; intentionally infected with diseases; addicted to drugs like cocaine and heroin; poisoned with industrial chemicals; and driven insane from their isolation in small, barren cages. More than 90% of these tests provide no useful data for developing new treatments for human patients, but they inflict an enormous amount of terror, agonizing pain, and suffering on millions of animals locked in laboratory cages and awaiting the next cruel procedure before they’re ultimately killed.
Her other eye will remain on the U.K. Home Office until it stops greenlighting crude experiments on animals. The Home Office is responsible for licensing experiments on animals, including forced swim tests, in which experimenters induce panic in vulnerable animals who are dropped into inescapable cylinders of water, where they panic and swim frantically to exhaustion in order to keep from drowning. They attempt to climb the sides of the container and even dive underwater to look for an escape, but there is none. Afterward, experimenters kill the animals, either by gassing, blunt force trauma to the head, an overdose of an anesthetic, or breaking their necks. None of this leads to advances of any kind in treating human conditions or diseases.
Gökçe is a Turkish butcher, chef, food entertainer, and restaurateur. He opened his first restaurant outside of Turkey in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 2014. Soon afterward, branches in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Beverly Hills, California; Boston; Dallas; Doha, Qatar; London; Miami; Mykonos, Greece; New York; and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, followed. In 2017, he posted a 36-second video titled "Ottoman Steak" on Instagram, featuring a specific way of cutting steak and sprinkling salt on it.
Although Gökçe charges exorbitant prices for the excessively elaborate, sickeningly meaty dishes at his restaurants, the world's best restaurants and most inspired Michelin-starred chefs know that when it comes to animals’ well-being, human health, and the future of the planet, decadent vegan foods should be the only items on the menu.
As a child, Newkirk saw many elephant-foot umbrella stands—as well as tiger rugs and other atrocities created from the remains of animals—in Delhi. May this be a reminder of the needless depravity of killing innocent animals, such as elephants, so that their body parts can be used by speciesist humans for unnecessary household items and decorations.
The swift kick will indeed occur if the company still hasn't stopped selling down and wool, despite its claim of being committed to making environmentally friendly clothing. The North Face says, "[W]e are committed to making the best products on earth—and keeping Mother Nature, our communities and the future in focus."
In January 2014, The North Face actually won a PETA award for creating a new state-of-the-art insulation called ThermoBall that's superior to down. In August 2016, it won another award for using vegan spider silk made by Spiber.
Unfortunately, the company still uses real down and wool. PETA has released nine exposés of the down industry from nearly 50 farms in six countries and 14 exposés of 117 wool operations on four continents, all revealing that suffering and horrific violence—including at operations with ties to certified and purportedly "responsible" companies—are what the down and wool industries are all about. Yet The North Face has refused to do right by animals by banning these cruelly obtained materials and still hides behind sham "responsible" certifications.
In 2018, PETA Asia eyewitnesses visited multiple badger farms across China—which exports badger-hair brushes to countries worldwide—and documented the hellish living conditions on the farms. Workers confine the animals to cramped wire cages, often forcing them to suffer from severe, untreated injuries. Some workers beat crying badgers over the head with anything they could find, including a chair leg, before slitting their throats. PETA has persuaded nearly 100 brands—including Edgewell Personal Care, The New York Shaving Company, and L’Oréal Group—to ditch badger hair.
The bulls who are tormented and killed for entertainment in bullfights with no chance of escape die in excruciating pain after fighting desperately to stay alive. When they eventually collapse on the ground due to exhaustion and massive blood loss, they can only watch and wait in terror until the fatal knife is plunged into their heart. If the crowd is pleased with the matador, the bull's ears—and sometimes his tail—are often cut off and presented as trophies. Bullfighting is a remnant of an unenlightened era that has no place in our society today, yet it is still responsible for killing 250,000 bulls every year.
Pigs and other animals’ body parts are not treats for dogs and cats. They belonged to a feeling individual—just like a dog or cat—who was once alive and likely endured an agonizing death before a worker chopped them into pieces to be processed and eventually chewed by another animal.
The Crufts and Westminster Kennel Club dog shows glamorize the inbreeding of flat-faced dogs like pugs, boxers, and English and French bulldogs, who are called breathing-impaired breeds and face lifelong disabilities, ailments, and premature death because of their distorted physical features, such as their flattened faces. The gasping, labored, open-mouth breathing, and shortness of breath so common among these breeds are not normal for dogs.
Breathing-impaired breeds suffer from an uncomfortable, debilitating, and often fatal condition called brachycephalic syndrome that makes it a struggle just to breathe. It's the leading cause of death for bulldogs. Going for a walk, chasing a ball, running, and playing—some of the things that make dogs’ lives joyful and fulfilling—are impossible, even life-threatening, for many breathing-impaired breeds.
Newkirk would be happy for her lips to be placed dead center in the Oval Office in order to push its occupant to stop kissing up to the turkey industry.
Each Thanksgiving, the president "pardons" a hand-selected turkey, sparing the bird a horrific death before ending up on someone's dinner table. It's believed that the first president to unofficially pardon a turkey was Abraham Lincoln, after his son requested that the bird be allowed to live. The annual ceremony is typically attended by representatives from associations like the National Turkey Federation, and the birds are at such high risk of becoming ill or even dying before the ceremony takes place that a backup is needed.
On today's farms, turkeys are bred to grow so large so quickly that their organs can barely keep up, if they keep up at all. Up to 10% of turkeys on typical farms die before they even reach the slaughterhouse. The birds on these farms are so unnaturally large that many can't even stand up without experiencing pain. Most of the turkeys used in these pardoning ceremonies die or are euthanized shortly afterward.
Pigeons are doting parents, loyal mates, and highly intelligent. Pigeon racers exploit all these wonderful qualities. They use cruel techniques to make pigeons fly faster, including separating lifelong mates and even placing rivals in their home cages so that the mate who's taken away will desperately fly home as fast as they can. They also forcibly remove parents from their eggs and chicks so that they will return frantically home at top speed to protect their young. A large percentage of these birds die due to harsh weather, predators, hunters, electrical lines, or exhaustion.
In this violent abuse that some deem a "sport," the "losing" birds’ necks are often wrung after they’ve endured grueling races—such as those that involve crossing the English Channel—during which many perish. (Trophy hunters have long threatened to wring Newkirk's neck, and she admits she’ll gladly have part of it wrung and sent to the king if the royal pigeon lofts have not been turned into bird refuges!)
PETA has gone undercover into the world of pigeon racing in the U.K. and discovered widespread alleged illegal activity and deadly outcomes for hundreds of thousands of birds. In one "smash" race across the English Channel, over 90% of the pigeons didn't return and were believed to have died after becoming disoriented or exhausted or crashing into the sea.
F1 World Drivers’ Champion Michael Schumacher was, before a skiing accident left him severely disabled, a wonderful supporter of PETA's work, helping horses in Turkey, dogs in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, and monkeys used in experiments in Germany.
Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton went vegan in 2017, following the influence of a friend from New York. A while back, Lewis said, "Three years ago, I decided to follow a plant-based diet. The only thing I regret is not having done it before."
Elon Musk is CEO of Neuralink, which is attempting to develop ultra-high-bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect the human brain to computers—a technology that has already existed for years—and the company has conducted deadly tests on multiple species. Since 2018, it has experimented on and killed at least 1,500 animals, including sheep, pigs, monkeys, mice, and rats. Non-animal research methods not only are vastly more humane but also would be less expensive and faster, in addition to producing far more human-relevant data.
The overall death toll of the race is surely much higher, and this number doesn't even include all the dogs who died during the off-season while chained up outside in all weather extremes. Some dogs were also killed because they weren't fast or fit enough to make the grade for racing. The deadly Iditarod must end so that mushers will no longer force abused and freezing dogs to pull sleds for 1,000 miles.
Many of the dogs forced to race in the Iditarod have died due to causes that include asphyxiation, heart attacks, trauma from being struck by a vehicle, freezing to death, excess fluid in the lungs, and acute aspiration pneumonia—a result of inhaling their own vomit. No dog voluntarily runs 1,000 miles in less than two weeks. But for the Iditarod, dogs are forced to run about 100 miles a day, causing many to pull muscles and sustain stress fractures and other injuries as they’re subjected to biting winds, blinding snowstorms, and subzero temperatures. Dogs forced to run the Iditarod are just like any other dogs, and they only want to live and enjoy loving companionship.
In late 2018 and early 2019, a PETA investigator worked at kennels owned by former Iditarod champions and found that dogs there were denied veterinary care and kept chained up in the bitter cold. In 2017, a veteran musher alleged that trainers in the industry have killed "hundreds on top of hundreds" of dogs who didn't make the grade.
With tasty faux gras now available, there's no valid excuse to allow the force-feeding of ducks and geese so that their swollen and diseased livers can be served on toast. France is by far the largest producer and consumer of foie gras. French for "fatty liver," foie gras is a product of extreme violence and cruelty. Workers force-feed geese and ducks by ramming tubes down the birds’ throats, which causes their livers to swell to up to eight or more times their normal size. The animals are kept in small, crowded cages or sheds and often tear out their own feathers and attack one another due to chronic stress.
Investigations at every foie gras farm in the U.S. and Europe have all documented the severe crowding of sick, dead, and dying animals in warehouse-like sheds. Most people would never dream of ramming a pipe down a puppy's throat to force-feed them and then killing them. However, it is just as cruel to do this to a duck or goose.
The Ministry of Defence continues to use real bearskin for the King's Guard's caps even though suitable faux fur is readily available. The bears whose fur is used to make the caps suffer horrifically: Mother bears with nursing cubs may be shot by hunters, which leads to the eradication of entire families, as the orphaned cubs are left to die. And bears are often shot but not killed immediately, so they die slowly from blood loss or starvation.
The U.K. government needlessly creates a demand for the bears’ fur by continuing to use it on the guards’ ornamental caps. British citizens, nearly 95% of whom object to killing animals for fur, are unwittingly paying for it through taxes. Over 1 million dollars’ worth of U.K. taxpayers’ money has been spent on these fur caps over the past seven years alone, even though they serve no military purpose and come at the cost of hundreds of bears’ lives.
PETA U.K. and luxury faux-furrier ECOPEL have created the world's first faux bear fur that is virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. ECOPEL has even offered to supply the Ministry of Defence with unlimited, free faux bear fur until 2030.
Donald Trump Jr. is an avid trophy hunter, and his contemptible targeting of at-risk animals, including leopards and elephants, is well documented. His 2019 trophy-hunting trip to Mongolia, where he hunted an argali sheep—an animal listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act—cost American taxpayers $77,000. Trophy hunting is a barbaric pastime in which the goal is to kill majestic wild animals, then squat by their dead bodies and grin stupidly for a photo. Many target animals have been rounded up and confined to enclosures, making it even simpler for cowards to get their kicks by shooting a caged animal who has no chance of escape.
This impassioned gesture would symbolize the backbreaking work that humans force beaten, debilitated donkeys, horses, and camels to endure at the pyramids of Giza, where starving horses and camels have collapsed while being forced to haul people around in the blistering heat.
This abuse is being perpetrated at some of Egypt's most popular tourist sites, including the Great Pyramid and the vast ancient burial ground of Saqqara. Once the animals are no longer useful to the tourist trade, they may be sold off to slaughter. In October 2020, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced a ban on the use of donkeys, horses, and camels at all tourist sites in Egypt, but it has not been implemented, and this cruelty persists, despite an abundance of animal-free activities.
This slice will be a reminder that sheep in the Australian wool industry still endure painful mutilations like mulesing, during which workers cut chunks of flesh off lambs’ hindquarters with shears in a crude attempt to prevent flies from laying eggs in the sheep's wet, wrinkly skinfolds, which are caused by breeding them to produce excessive amounts of wool.
Mulesing is often performed without pain relief, even though the sheep may suffer for days. Some time ago, Australian wool-industry officials promised to phase out mulesing—already banned in New Zealand—by 2010, but most lambs in Australia are still subjected to this torment.
PETA's latest video exposé of the wool industry reveals that shearers violently kicked gentle sheep, punched them in the face, and sheared them so haphazardly they were left with deep cuts and gaping wounds, including one sheep who was heavily pregnant and most likely in labor while being shorn. Another writhed in pain and terror as a shearer crudely stitched up a gaping wound with a blunt needle and without any pain relief. Wool production is bloody, violent, and lethal. It's easy for shoppers to drop wool in favor of superior vegan materials that animals don't suffer and die for.
The long-running Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which closed in 2017 after 146 years, is set to bring back its show after a six-year hiatus in September 2023 with only human performers and no animals. The circus started in 1871 and became known for featuring lions, tigers, and elephants. Archele Hundley, a former employee of the outfit, said, "[T]he abuse was not just once in a while—it occurred every day. The elephants, horses, and camels were hit, punched, beaten, and whipped by everyone from the head of animal care down to inexperienced animal handlers hired out of homeless shelters."
A new and improved animal-free Ringling Bros. circus will send a clear message to circuses everywhere: Audiences will happily pay to be dazzled by willing human performers in cruelty-free events that don't force animals to perform under the constant threat of physical violence. At Ringling, the show will go on with aerialists, clowns, and daredevils, who—unlike elephants, tigers, and other animals—won't be whipped and are free to go home at the end of the day.
Considering our ever-changing, fast-paced world—and PETA's many victories!—it shouldn't surprise us if Newkirk revises her unorthodox will again in 20 years’ time, when she will be 94. More companies will ditch their sponsorship of the cruel Iditarod; more fashion brands and chains will ban exotic skins, down, and wool; and more seedy roadside zoos will fold and send animals to reputable sanctuaries; but undoubtedly, some forms of speciesist exploitation will persist, which will require protest.
You can be dead sure that Newkirk will keep leaping ahead of the Grim Reaper with gusto and that her legacy of defiance will always shine fresh light on new ways to end speciesism.
Although you could draw up a will similar to Newkirk's in order to help animals after you’ve died, there are actions inspired by her document that you can take right now to help everyone get the most out of life. Here are three to get you started:
Tell NIH to Stop Spending Tax Dollars on Tormenting Monkeys
Urge Sponsors to Ditch the Deadly Iditarod
Learn About and Help Ban Breathing-Impaired BreedsWhy Ingrid Newkirk's Unique Will Got a Rewrite The Shocking and Compassionate Ways Ingrid Newkirk Instructs That Her Body Be Divided Up After Her Death Carve out and sear some of her flesh to fry up with onions for a human barbecue. Peel off a portion of her skin, cure it, and fashion it into a leather belt and purse. One of her legs should be removed and violently broken, the foot detached, and the broken leg should be sent either to Churchill Downs to display outside the Kentucky Derby or to Aintree to display outside the Grand National so as to draw attention to the thousands of horses who have sustained fatal, catastrophic injuries during these and other races. A watchful eye will be sent to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) because it needs to know that PETA will be constantly watching. Newkirk's other eye is to be sent to the U.K. Home Office so that it, too, knows PETA's always watching. Use her intestines for sausage casings, and send them to chef Nusret Gökçe (aka "Salt Bae"), who is known for preparing meaty dishes. One foot will be made into an umbrella stand like those made from elephant feet . Her other foot will be sent to The North Face to give it a kick in the behind. Make her hair into brushes to send to Truefitt & Hill, the world's oldest barbershop, since it still uses hair from badgers. Present one of her ears to King Felipe VI of Spain, or his successor, to protest against bullfighting , in which a cowardly matador often cuts off an exhausted and mortally wounded bull's ears. Donate her other ear to PetSmart as a dog treat, just as pigs’ ears are currently used. Send pieces of her trachea to the administrators of the Crufts and Westminster Kennel Club dog shows if they have failed to end their endorsement of breathing-impaired breeds. Her lips should go to the U.S. president, if the turkey pardon is still being held. Send part of her neck to King Charles III, or his successor, if he has failed to cut ties with pigeon racing. Bury a piece of her heart for Michael Schumacher at the racetrack in Hockenheim, Germany; bury another piece at Silverstone Circuit in England to honor vegan Formula One (F1) champ Lewis Hamilton ; and send a third piece to the real-life Tin Man, Elon Musk, to clone for himself, as he seems ruled by greed and sex and lacks empathy and a heart, given that his company Neuralink has killed monkeys, pigs, rats, and sheep in invasive brain experiments. Send her lungs to the governor of Alaska if the Iditarod is still being held, since more than 150 dogs have died in it, many due to respiratory issues . V acuum-pack her liver and ship it to French President Emmanuel Macron or his successor. Send some of her bare skin to the head of the U.K.'s Ministry of Defence. Deliver part of her spine to Donald Trump Jr., who indulges in craven violence in an attempt to prove his manhood by gunning down magnificent, unthreatening, and unsuspecting wild animals who are simply standing still when that pathetic man takes his cowardly shots at them. Send part of her back to the Egyptian minister of tourism and antiquities. A slice of her buttocks should be sent to Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese or his successor. Send her thumb as a thumbs-up to Ringling Bros. since the circus, long a source of animal misery , is now animal-free. Send Bruno and Rupert, the teddy bears Newkirk's had since she was a baby, to an orphanage in India, where she grew up. Keep Your Own Watchful Eye to See Future Updates to Newkirk's Will What YOU Can Do for Animals While You’re Still Alive