This article was written by PETA U.S. Action Team Coordinator Tiffany Rose.
My knees are bent and pulled tightly to my chest, and yet even with my back completely hunched over, I am unable to keep the top of my head from pushing up on the intractable ceiling of my cage. The wind is howling, and skyscrapers are obscuring any possibility of sunshine. I’m cold and very uncomfortable, but I feel like a jerk for even entertaining the idea of complaining. I will spend a whopping 60 minutes of my life confined to a cage in front of the San Francisco office of Philippine Airlines, which at the time was one of the few remaining airlines in the world that was still shipping primates to a lifetime of torture in laboratories.
While I sit, desperate to keep from looking at my watch, my fellow activists pass out leaflets and hold signs depicting the horrific image of a monkey restrained by an apparatus that should only be seen in the most sinister of horror movies. After several hundred leaflets have been distributed to hurried business people on their lunch break and tourists wandering through the high-end boutiques of Union Square, I crawl out of my cage, stretch my cramping legs and go back to the office. It’s all in a day’s work. I very much enjoy participating in demonstrations and public outreach, but I’ll be honest with you: The number of animals who are suffering can seem insurmountable, and if I let myself go to that dark place, I may wonder whether my efforts are meaningless. When those defeatist thoughts arise, I need only imagine a cow frantically bellowing for her stolen calf, the interminable shivering of a cold “backyard dog,” or an unsuspecting monkey pried from his panicked mother’s embrace—and then I begin again.
Recently, I received the news that Philippine Airlines had ceased shipping monkeys to labs, citing PETA’s pressure as the number-one reason. I cried when I heard the news. I also cried for the monkeys who are still in cages, and I cried tears of joy for those who will remain in the jungle, grooming, foraging, and playing. It is a huge victory for PETA and, of course, for animals, but it was also a personal victory. I was a part of that pressure. I went to protests, signed online petitions, and passed out leaflets to strangers. I took action. On occasion, we may doubt the impact of our efforts, but trust me, we make a difference. I know. I speak from experience.
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