animal-rights movement, diverse individuals and groups concerned with protecting animals from perceived abuse or misuse. Supporters are specifically concerned with the use of animals for medical and cosmetics testing, the killing of animals for furs, hunting for pleasure, and the raising of livestock in restrictive or inhumane quarters, so-called factory farming. Concern for inhumane treatment of animals has led many supporters of the movement to advocate vegetarianism. Although the movement can trace its roots to the antivivisection campaigns (see vivisection) of the 19th cent., the modern movement is closely tied to environmental issues. In the early 1970s, environmental activist organizations, such as Greenpeace, began protesting against the annual slaughter of Canadian fur seals and against commercial whaling. The movement gained support in the 1980s with increasing opposition to the commercial fur industry and objections to the indiscriminate or routine use of laboratory animals in research and testing. By the 1990s, membership in major national animal-rights organizations, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, had grown dramatically. Animal-rights campaigns have been responsible in large part for substantial tightening of regulation in the use of animals for research.
See P. Singer, Animal Liberation (1975); T. Reagan, The Case for Animal Rights (1983).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.