by Elaine Jarvik
Deseret Morning News
Newkirk, president and founder of the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, was in Salt Lake City to promote her new book, "Making Kind Choices." Judging from the grimaces and frowns that accompanied the showing of some graphic PETA footage of animal cruelty on factory farms, it appeared that she was largely preaching to the choir.
Newkirk told her audience at Salt Lake Community College about a trip she recently took to Australia, where she observed what life and death is like for sheep raised to produce wool. As lambs, she reported, the animals have the flesh cut off their bottoms, without the use of painkillers, so they will develop scar tissue that will keep flies from laying eggs in their coats. When the sheep are too old to produce good wool, she said, they're shipped off in cramped ships where they are mired in their own waste and sometimes die from stress or have their throats slashed after they arrive at their destinations in the Middle East.
Arguments that chickens and pigs and cows don't experience fear and grief are no different, she said, from old arguments that African slaves "don't feel pain like white men," or that women weren't smart enough to vote.
Recent research, she said, has shown that when the door to a research laboratory is opened, rats' cortisol and adrenaline levels go up, simply in anticipation of the stress ahead. And that sheep, when shown pictures of other sheep, experience a lowering of their heart rate.
"They're bundles of emotions. They aren't tables and chairs," Newkirk said.
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