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 Est. 1998

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Quotations about Animal Rights

I'm in favor of animal liberation. Why? Because I'm an animal. ~Edward Abbey

A good way to end a story is
The prince and the princess lived happy ever
after and the mice lived happy ever after too
~Ruth Krauss (1901–1993), Open House for Butterflies, 1960

This earth is a garden, this life a banquet, and it's time we realized that it was given to all life, animal and man, to enjoy. ~Tom Brown, Jr.

If there is a just God, how humanity would writhe in its attempt to justify its treatment of animals. ~Isaac Asimov

Dear intelligent people of the world, don't get shampoo in your eyes. It really stings. There. Done. Now [f*@%'ing] stop torturing animals. ~Ricky Gervais, @rickygervais, tweet, 2012

If we cut up beasts simply because they cannot prevent us and because we are backing our own side in the struggle for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, enemies, or capitalists for the same reasons. ~C. S. Lewis, "Vivisection," God in the Dock, 1947

The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot. ~Mark Twain, What Is Man?

The mad scientist was once only a creature of gothic romance; now he is everywhere, busy torturing atoms and animals in his laboratory. ~Edward Abbey

It is just like man's vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions. ~Mark Twain

In their wild state, wild creatures can generally shift for themselves; but to prison a wild bird in a cage, to chain a dog to a kennel, or even to shut him in a room... is to be guilty of a cruelty not easily to be forgiven. ~Coulson Kernahan, "A Dog in the Pulpit," 1909

A bloodless sportsman, I—
I hunt for the thoughts that throng the woods,
The dreams that haunt the sky.
The woods were made for the hunters of dreams,
The brooks for the fishers of song;
To the hunters who hunt for the gunless game
The streams and the woods belong...
~Sam Walter Foss, "The Bloodless Sportsman," c.1896

Thou shalt not kill — does not apply only to the killing of human beings, but also to the killing of any living creature. This commandment was inscribed in the hearts of men before it was graven on the tablets on Mount Sinai. ~Leo Tolstoy, The Pathway of Life, translated by Archibald J. Wolfe, 1919

A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage....
~William Blake (1757-1827), "Auguries of Innocence"

I believe in animal rights, and high among them is the right to the gentle stroke of a human hand. ~Robert Brault,

Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in. ~Mark Twain

Of all the creatures that were made, man is the most detestable. Of the entire brood he is the only one—the solitary one—that possesses malice. That is the basest of all instincts, passions, vices—the most hateful. He is the only creature that has pain for sport, knowing it to be pain. Also—in all the list he is the only creature that has a nasty mind. ~Mark Twain

Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it. It is a trait that is not known to the higher animals. ~Mark Twain, "The Lowest Animal"

Little things that run and quail
And die in silence and despair;
Little things that fight and fail
And fall on sea and earth and air;
All trapped and frightened little things,
The mouse, the coney, hear our prayer,
As we forgive those done to us,
The lamb, the linnet, and the hare,
Forgive us all our trespasses,
Little creatures everywhere.
~James Stephens, "Little Things," to W.T.H. Howe, Little Things, 1924

From my work with them I have come to believe that at some time during prehistory, man and wolf were related in spirit, and traveled the forests of a younger and better world in peace. It should not be supposed, however, that a wolf can accommodate itself to life as a domestic pet. Like all wild animals, wolves are born to be free and unfettered by chains, kennels, or walls. They are too greatly influenced by heredity to accept passively the restrictions that humans impose upon their dogs and cats, themselves animals that are no longer truly natural because thousands of years of domestication and inbreeding have caused them to lose their inherent wildness and to become dependent on their owners. Such animals are, in fact, slaves, even though many are kept in pampered luxury. ~R. D. Lawrence, In Praise of Wolves, 1986

The only creature on earth whose natural habitat is a zoo is the zookeeper. ~Robert Brault,

Through nature, through the evolutionary continuum and ecological relatedness and interdependence of all things, we are as much a part of the wolf as the wolf is a part of us. And as we destroy or demean nature, wolves, or any creature, great or small, we do no less to ourselves. ~Michael W. Fox, "Wolf Communion," The Soul of the Wolf, 1980

I believe I am not interested to know whether Vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn't. To know that the results are profitable to the race would not remove my hostility to it. The pains which it inflicts upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity towards it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further. It is so distinctly a matter of feeling with me, and is so strong and so deeply-rooted in my make and constitution, that I am sure I could not even see a vivisector vivisected with anything more than a sort of qualified satisfaction. I do not say I should not go and look on; I only mean that I should almost surely fail to get out of it the degree of contentment which it ought, of course, to be expected to furnish. ~Mark Twain, letter to London Anti-Vivisection Society, 1899 May 26th

The best use for a unicorn's horn is to adorn a unicorn. ~Femeref adage, "Benevolent Unicorn" card, Magic: The Gathering (Richard Garfield / Wizards of the Coast)

Henry S. Salt declares not only that human beings have rights. He declares that animals also have rights. That it is not the vivisector alone who has rights. Not the meat-eater alone. That the vivisected and the meat-eaten also have rights. I was going to say Salt was ahead of his time. That is a mistake. He is ahead of your time. ~Horace Traubel (1858–1919), "Animals' rights," in The Conservator, March 1906

If a rabbit defined intelligence the way man does, then the most intelligent animal would be a rabbit, followed by the animal most willing to obey the commands of a rabbit. ~Robert Brault,

No humane being... will wantonly murder any creature which holds its life by the same tenure that he does. ~Henry David Thoreau

Hurt no living thing:
Ladybird, nor butterfly,
Nor moth with dusty wing...
~Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830–1894)

The killing of animals for dissection continues, however. What an irony! We look at death and we believe that we are studying life!... I felt then, as I do now, that it is not possible to study life by dissection, just as it is impossible to learn anything truly worthwhile about the behavior of an organism by observing it in restricted captivity. ~R. D. Lawrence, "The Study of Life," A Shriek in the Forest Night: Wilderness Encounters, 1996

Suppose that tomorrow a group of beings from another planet were to land on Earth, beings who considered themselves as superior to you as you feel yourself to be to other animals. Would they have the right to treat you as you treat the animals you breed, keep and kill for food? ~John Harris, "Killing for Food," 1972

When a man wants to murder a tiger he calls it sport: when the tiger wants to murder him he calls it ferocity. ~Bernard Shaw

Terms like that, "Humane Society," are devised with people like me in mind, who don't care to dwell on what happens to the innocent. ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

To kill for mere sport is a very different matter: it lies outside the realm of struggle for existence. Too often there is not even the justification of fair play.... He has the advantage of long-range weapons. There is no combat.... The guns discharge.... There is a shout of victory. Surely, man is the king of beasts! ~Liberty Hyde Bailey, "The New Hunting," Country Life in America: A Magazine for the Home-maker, the Vacation-seeker, the Gardener, the Farmer, the Nature-teacher, the Naturalist, April 1902

Killing for sport, for fur, or to increase a hunter's success by slaughtering predators is totally abhorrent to me. I deem such behavior to be barbaric, a symptom of the social sickness that causes our species to make war against itself at regular intervals with weapons whose killing capacities have increased horrendously since man first made use of the club — weapons that today are continuing to be "improved." ~R. D. Lawrence, In Praise of Wolves, 1986

A true sportsman is a hunter lost in the woods and out of ammo. ~Robert Brault,

It's the same the way people sort of moan about drugs being tested on animals. That sort of thing, well, it depends, doesn't it? If the drug's aspirin and the monkey's got a headache, is it tight? ~Karl Pilkington, "Nature," on 3 Minute Wonder, Channel 4 (London), 2006

Wear your own skin. ~As seen on a shirt at

Even the smallest of creatures carries a sun in its eyes. ~Antonio Porchia (1886–1968), Voces, 1943–1966, translated from the Spanish by W.S. Merwin (1927–2019), c.1968

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published 1999 Feb 16
revised 2021 Mar 17
last saved 2023 Jan 4