by Jim Bendon
Animal Rights Articles
Moo-ving people toward compassionate living
By Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns (UPC)
That 200 years ago it was common to think that human slavery would never end; but it ended, and trends now suggest that animal slavery will end within the next 200 years, perhaps sooner....That the EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION was one major step to help end human slavery, that many people gave their lives to bring equality among the human races, and that the job is not done yet. Therefore, do not expect the battle to be easy, or the war to be won quickly. We are in for a long siege, for many battles. But one day a future president of the United States will write the EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION FOR ANIMALS.
"Slowly I began to realize that animals should not be treated as just impersonal numbers, or things I could treat however I chose." "Re-Searching the Heart: An Interview with Eldon Kienholz" by Karen Davis, The Animals' Agenda. April 1991.
Eldon Kienholz was born on May 27, 1928 near Moscow, Idaho. He lived on farms near Pullman, Washington until he was 22. His family raised "wheat, field peas, alfalfa, barley, oats, potatoes, pastures, dairy cows, steers, pigs, chickens, turkeys, geese, horses, goats, sheep, dogs and cats." He was a member of 4-H and active in Future Farmers of America. He got his PhD at the University of Wisconsin in 1962 in Biochemistry & Poultry Science. From 1962 until 1988, Eldon was a professor of animal science specializing in poultry nutrition at Colorado State University. In 1988, he chose to retire early, rather than continue to perform cruel experiments on chickens and turkeys for the poultry industry.
In November 1992, Eldon learned he had lung and bone cancer. He died on Labor Day, September 6, 1993. I received the call from his family early in the morning as I was getting ready to head out the door to Hegins, Pennsylvania to join the protest demonstration against the annual Labor Day Pigeon Shoot in Hegins.
In the 1980s, Eldon underwent a spiritual transformation with the help of his new wife, Polly. Together they became vegetarians. As an undergraduate at Manchester College, in Indiana, Eldon had been among the first group of students to attend the Peace Studies Institute at the College in 1948. In July 1990, he published an article in the Peace Institute's Bulletin titled "Will There Be Peace Before We Are Vegetarians?" In it he noted that "In the 10 minutes you take to read this paper, we will kill about 200,000 animals in our beloved U.S.A., just to please our taste buds. Is that peace?"
He went on to say, "Peace on our planet does not just include stopping the burning of our rain forests or irresponsible dumping of toxic wastes. It includes eating as far down the food chain as possible, and a change of attitude about our present exploitation of this planet. This means that we must and will change our economy. We need to confront our enormous consumption, our materialism. At present the call is for "strategies for sustainable economic development.' That is a step in the right direction. However, somehow we must and will come to live at peace with our planet, and I expect that will come because of a spiritual change in us, not just physical changes."
As a poultry scientist, Eldon entertained audiences by impersonating Abraham Lincoln as "Abe for agriculture." However, in 1990, he wrote to me, "Now that I have become a vegetarian, that speech has changed. One of the things I have been thinking is that Abe Lincoln would have been a leader in the animal freedom movement, had he lived in these times. So what I do now is to compare views of human slavery and animal slavery."
In an article titled "Decisions From the Heart," published in Behavioural & Political Animal Studies, in July 1988, Eldon described the personal changes that had taken place in "the life of one traditional animal exploiter," and on February 13, 1990, he wrote about his life-changing experiences in a letter to Donald Barnes, then director of the National Anti-Vivisection Society and himself a "traditional animal exploiter" who, like Eldon, had grown up on a family farm and gone on to pursue a career in science abusing animals. Don worked as an experimental psychologist with the U.S. Air Force where he performed radiation experiments on chimpanzees, until he too began to question, and ultimately to reject, the work he had taken for granted. (Don Barnes's Air Force experience is the basis of the film Project X.)
In his letter to Don Barnes, Eldon wrote: "My background was the 560 acre family farm. Yes, and I killed thousands of squirrels and sparrows because they were pests to farming. My pay was a smile, and then bragging about how good a shot I was."
He goes on, "So neither of us had any problems with exploiting animals in research because of our backgrounds. As I read about your days of motivating animals with shock, I thought of my days working with a psychologist from Denver (Dr. Graham Sterritt), and how I devised a way of feeding chicks with the aid of an esophageal cannula hooked up to a pump. The slurry that was fed had the right amount of both food and water, so that the chicks did not need to peck to prehend either feed or water. And the end result of all of that research with Dr. Sterritt, a NIH Fellow [National Institutes of Health], for 5-6 years was that chicks peck independently of whether or not they need to peck in order to eat. I still cannot believe all of the money spent to study that.
"Even worse," Eldon continued, "was the de-winging and de-tailing of both broiler chicks and turkey poults, with the hope (and excellent hypothesis) that we would be able to produce such meat with 15% savings in feed costs. And then I heard your question, "How could anyone do such things?' Yes, my entire life I, too, was rewarded for using animals, for exploiting them. Even administrators, other professors at the university, many commercial poultry people, my family and friends; they all admired what I did, without any obvious exceptions.
"Oh, I do remember that I took a new girlfriend out squirrel hunting when I was about 16 years old, and I turned around from shooting across the little valley to find a baby squirrel not 10 feet away. I blew its brains out, and then I wondered why my girlfriend threw up and wanted to be taken home, immediately. Within a year that girl, Roberta Tucker, ran away from home and disappeared for many years. I wondered if part of her disgust with life was because of me and the baby squirrel. But somehow I put that out of my mind 99% of the time, and eventually dismissed it as an anomaly in my life. . . ."