We’re at a turning point in animal advocacy. Sarah Palin’s entry into the international spotlight has brought forth, from many, a resounding call: It’s high time we let free-living animals live.

It wasn’t surprising to our members, but Palin took the rest of the world aback when publicly suggesting that Alaskans will starve without a freezer full of moose.[1] I have visited Alaska often. Plant-based foods abound in stores from Anchorage to the Aleutian Islands, from Barrow to Denali, from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay. In Anchorage, I eat at the Snow City Café, whose menu features mushroom burgers and grilled vegetable panini ““ not moose. The only moose are a few who wander downtown occasionally.

In a pending lawsuit, we continue to challenge Alaska’s government which, under Palin, has promoted aerial wolf- and bear-killing, increasing the moose and caribou for hunters although only 14% of Alaska residents hunt.

The main issue surrounding the hunting and eating of animals is not need, but old habits. Humans can change, although changing ingrained customs does take profound care. An increasingly unbalanced climate’s impact on the web of life underscores the importance of such efforts.

In Alaska and everywhere, the tendency of our burgeoning population to perceive all nonhuman life as resources is both disrespectful and unsustainable.

We keep speaking, community by community, about its impact.

Should primates, birds, big cats and other free-living animals lose even more of their
dwindling habitat to accommodate businesses that exploit other animals for profit? We set the example for ecological and animal-protection groups to encourage a peaceful diet and respect for natural habitat, rather than to woo hunters or promote sprawling, free-range farms. Still, we’re ahead of the curve.

We’re committed to inspiring and supporting advocates and community leaders who teach peaceful alternatives to both hunting and animal agribusiness. To achieve this goal, Friends of Animals this year unveiled a new, yet already popular web site, VeganMeans.com.

And Peter Wallerstein, of our Marine Animal Rescue initiative, reminds us to get out of the water too. We intend to help Peter open an emergency care site for sea lions, pelicans, and other coastal animals caught by nets, lines, and hooks, or suffering the results of water pollution.

Perhaps the greatest success story brought to the animal-advocacy community by our investment in our past year of work is the complete rebound of Primarily Primates, North America’s first primate sanctuary. By midsummer 2008, our good work was acknowledged by an accreditation from the American Sanctuary Association.

Refuges need special help during a rough economy; in these times, people with doubts about whether they’ll keep animals are, unfortunately, most likely to call it quits. The animals who reach good refuges are the minority, and good rescue sites must strain to keep up with the need.

Thus far, members of Friends of Animals empowered us to invest $1.5 million to renovate the 30-year-old sanctuary: to install solar panels and wind energy, a new septic system, new refrigeration, climbing pathways and other gifts for the animals, plus a full-time veterinarian and full staff to care for 450 animals.

Each week, produce for the primates costs $700. And while Peter Wallerstein rescues and safely releases animals in good health, to handle more demanding rehabilitation work, future funding is critically needed. So today I ask you to join our members and support Primarily Primates and Marine Animal Rescue with a gift.

FoA also has an important project under way to stop the trade in Canadian seal products. Wheels for Seals, a bicycle marathon from Victoria eastward across Canada, will wake the populace and speak the truth to politicians (including those in Europe who insist they can press Canada to kill seals by ethical methods): Killing seals is wrong no matter how it is carried out.

Your support of FoA can do much for the animal-advocacy movement. You’ll help us sustain the longest-running network of vets offering low-cost services to prevent births of cats and dogs – two and a half million operations so far, sparing so many millions of animals from institutional killing.

And grass-roots groups, like Mobilization for Animals of Pennsylvania, rely on us for Vegan Starter Guides to use as educational references (and cooking ideas!) when they’re out at green fairs and local events. Our Vegan Restaurant Guides and our debut cookbook, Dining With Friends, continue to receive praise. We’re now drafting a restaurant guide for Philadelphia – and we’re about to introduce an exciting new book, The Best of Vegan Cooking.

Also this year, Friends of Animals speakers were invited to give key talks in three countries – including a presentation and book chapter for Vermont Law School’s 2008 symposium on security and first-amendment rights.

In a harsh financial climate, animals often come last. Your thoughtfulness and confidence will help Friends of Animals keep cultivating a truly humane culture. With the contribution you make today, we can and will continue creating an advocacy movement that’s taken seriously and makes a real difference.

Please make your gift to support FoA, and invest in our efforts ahead in 2009.

And please urge your family, co-workers, and friends to invest in our work as well. Invite them to visit www.friendsofanimals.org. We’d love to welcome you and the people you know as Friends of Animals members. In sincere gratitude for your support,

Priscilla Feral, President
Friends of Animals

(1) Kim Severson, “A Political Punch Line Is Dinner in Alaska”; New York Times (16 Sep.).