Ingrid Newkirk's Biography

Ingrid Newkirk is an animal rights activist, author, and renowned cofounder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). When she almost single-handedly launched the largest animal rights organization in the world, she hoped that one person could make a difference. In her new book, One Can Make a Difference: How Simple Actions Can Change the World, she shares the wisdom and insight of more than 50 world-changers like herself.

Newkirk is best known for the issue-awareness campaigns that she organizes on behalf of PETA in order to promote animal rights. Since it was founded, PETA has exposed horrific animal abuse in laboratories, leading to many firsts, including canceled funding, closed facilities, seizure of animals, and charges filed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. PETA has also closed the largest horse-slaughter operation in North America, convinced dozens of major designers and hundreds of companies to stop using fur, ended all car-crash tests on animals, cleaned up wretched animal pounds, helped schools switch to alternatives to dissection, and provided millions of people with information on vegetarianism, companion animal care, and countless other issues.

As PETA's president, Ingrid has spoken internationally on animal rights issues, from the steps of the Canadian Parliament to the streets of New Delhi, India, where she spent her childhood—and from the drowning tanks of Taiwan to the halls of the U.S. Congress.

Ingrid has served as a deputy sheriff, a Maryland state law enforcement officer with the highest success rate in convicting animal abusers, the director of cruelty investigations for the second-oldest humane society in the U.S., and the chief of animal disease control for the Commission on Public Health in Washington, D.C.

During her work as a humane officer, Ingrid discovered the enormous amount of animal abuse taking place in laboratories, on factory farms, and trap lines. Peter Singer's book Animal Liberation inspired her to found PETA in 1980, with the goals of investigating, exposing, and ending cruelty to animals through individual and group action.

Under Newkirk's leadership, legislation was passed to create the first-ever spay-and-neuter clinic in Washington, D.C. She coordinated the first arrest in U.S. history of a laboratory animal experimenter on cruelty charges and helped achieve the first anti-cruelty law in Taiwan. She spearheaded the closure of a Department of Defense underground "wound laboratory," and she has initiated many other campaigns against animal abuse, including ending General Motors' crash tests on animals.

Newkirk's biography shows that she is an abolitionist who remains committed to the idea that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment.

Newkirk is the author of Save the Animals! 101 Easy Things You Can Do, 50 Awesome Ways Kids Can Help Animals, The Compassionate Cook, 250 Ways to Make Your Cat Adore You, PETA's Practical Guide to Animal Rights, Free the Animals, Making Kind Choices, Let's Have a Dog Party!, and One Can Make a Difference. She has also written numerous articles on the treatment of animals in homes, slaughterhouses, circuses, and laboratories.