Animals Animal Rights Historical Timeline of the Animal Rights Movement Animal Activism's Major Milestones, Setbacks, and Accomplishments By Doris Lin Doris Lin Writer University of Southern California MIT Doris Lin is an animal rights attorney and the Director of Legal and Government Affairs for the Animal Protection League of New Jersey. Her focuses as an expert writer include animal rights and veganism. Learn about our editorial process Updated March 27, 2021 Fact checked by Betsy Petrick Fact checked by Betsy Petrick Ohio Wesleyan University Brandeis University Northeastern University Betsy Petrick is an experienced researcher, writer, and producer. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email TED ALJIBE / Getty Images Animals Wildlife Pets Animal Rights Endangered Species Concern for animal suffering is not new or modern. The ancient Hindu and Buddhist scriptures advocate a vegetarian diet for ethical reasons. The ideology behind the animal rights movement has evolved over millennia, but many animal activists point to the 1975 publication of Australian philosopher Peter Singer's “Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals” as the catalyst for the modern American animal rights initiative. This timeline highlights some of the major events in the fight against animal cruelty. Early Events and Legislation 1635: First known animal protection legislation passes, in Ireland, "An Act against plowing by the tayle, and pulling the wool off living sheep." 1641: The Massachusetts colony's Body of Liberties includes regulations against "Tirranny or Crueltie" toward animals. 1687: Japan reintroduces a ban on eating meat and killing animals. 1780: English philosopher Jeremy Bentham argues for better treatment of animals. 19th Century 1822: British Parliament passes "Act to Prevent the Cruel and Improper Treatment of Cattle." 1824: The first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is founded in England by Richard Martin, Arthur Broome, and William Wilberforce. 1835: The first Cruelty to Animal Act is passed in Britain. 1866: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is founded by New Yorker Henry Bergh. 1875: The National Anti-Vivisection Society is established in Britain by Frances Power Cobbe. 1892: English social reformer Henry Stephens Salt publishes "Animals' Rights: Considered in Relation to Social Progress." 20th Century 1906: Upton Sinclair's novel "The Jungle," an excoriating look into the cruelty and appalling conditions of the Chicago meatpacking industry, is published. 1944: English animal rights advocate Donald Watson founded the Vegan Society in Britain. 1975: “Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals” by philosopher Peter Singer is published. 1979: Animal Legal Defense Fund is established, and the National Anti-Vivisection Society establishes World Lab Animal Day on April 24, which has since evolved into World Laboratory Animal Week. 1980: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is founded; “Animal Factories” by attorney Jim Mason and philosopher Peter Singer is published. 1981: The Farm Animal Reform Movement is officially founded. 1983: The Farm Animal Rights Movement establishes World Day for Farmed Animals on October 2; “The Case for Animal Rights,” by philosopher Tom Regan is published. 1985: The first annual Great American MeatOut is organized by the Farm Animal Reform Movement. 1986: Fur Free Friday, an annual nationwide fur protest on the day after Thanksgiving, begins; the Farm Sanctuary is founded. 1987: California high school student Jennifer Graham makes national headlines when she refuses to dissect a frog; "Diet for a New America" by John Robbins is published. 1989: Avon stops testing its products on animals; In Defense of Animals launches their campaign against Proctor & Gamble’s animal testing. 1990: Revlon stops testing its products on animals. 1992: Animal Enterprise Protection Act is passed. 1993: General Motors stops using live animals in crash tests; The Great Ape Project is founded by Peter Singer and Paola Cavalieri. 1994: Tyke the elephant goes on a rampage, killing her trainer and escaping from the circus before being gunned down by police. 1995: Erica Meier founded Compassion Over Killing. 1996: Vegetarian activist and former cattle rancher Howard Lyman appears on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show, leading to a defamation lawsuit filed by Texas Cattlemen. 1997: PETA releases an undercover video showing animal abuse by Huntingdon Life Sciences. 1998: A jury finds in favor of Lyman and Winfrey in the defamation lawsuit filed by Texas Cattlemen; An investigation by The Humane Society of the U.S. reveals that Burlington Coat Factory is selling products made from dog and cat fur. 21st Century 2002: Dominion by Matthew Scully is published; McDonald’s settles a class-action lawsuit over their non-vegetarian french fries. 2004: Clothing chain Forever 21 promises to stop selling fur. 2005: The U.S. Congress pulls funding for inspections of horse meat. 2006: The "SHAC 7" are convicted under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act; Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is passed, and an investigation by the Humane Society of the U.S. reveals that items labeled as “faux” fur at Burlington Coat Factory are made of real fur. 2007: Horse slaughter for human consumption ends in the United States, but live horses continue to be exported for slaughter; Barbaro is injured at the Preakness and is later put down. 2009: The European Union bans cosmetic ingredients testing and bans the sale or import of seal products. 2010: A killer whale at SeaWorld kills his trainer, Dawn Brancheau. SeaWorld is fined $75,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 2011: National Institutes of Health stops funding of new experiments on chimpanzees; President Barack Obama and Congress lift ban on USDA funding for horse inspections. 2012: Iowa passes the nation's fourth ag-gag law, which prohibits the undercover filming of farm conditions without the owner's consent; An international convention of neuroscientists declares that non-human animals have consciousness. The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness is published in Britain, which states that many nonhuman animals possess the neurological structures to generate consciousness. 2013: The documentary "Blackfish" reaches a mass audience, causing widespread public criticism of SeaWorld. 2014: India bans cosmetic testing on animals, the first Asian country to do so. 2015-2016: SeaWorld announces it will end its controversial orca shows and breeding program. 2017: The Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives votes 27 -25 in favor of re-opening horse slaughter plants in the U.S. 2018: Nabisco changes its 116-year-old package design for Animal Crackers. The new box is cage-free; Sens. John Kennedy, R-La., and Catherine Cortez, D-Nev., introduce the Welfare of Our Furry Friends Act (WOOFF) to prohibit airlines from storing animals in overhead compartments after the death of Kokito, a French bulldog, during a United Airlines flight from Houston to New York. 2019: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announces plans to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of mammals to test the toxicity of chemicals; California becomes the first U.S. state to ban the sale and manufacture of new fur items; Cat declawing is banned in New York State. View Article Sources Colling, Sarat. Animal Resistance in the Global Capitalist Era. Michigan State University Press. 2020. Watanabe, Zenjiro.“Removal of the Ban on Meat: The Meat-Eating Culture of Japan at the Beginning of Westernization.” Texas Wagyu Association. Bentham, Jeremy. “An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation.” The Library of Economics and Liberty. Holmes, Tarquin, and Carrie Friese. “Making the Anaesthetised Animal into a Boundary Object: An Analysis of the 1875 Royal Commission on Vivisection.” HPLS, vol. 42, no. 50, 2020, doi:10.1007/s40656-020-00344-9 “The Story of the RSPCA (A).” RSPCA. “History of the ASPCA.” American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “The History of the NAVS.” National Anti-Vivisection Society. Updated July 24, 2012. Peters, Anne. “Toward International Animal Rights.” In: Peters, Anne (ed.) Studies in Global Animal Law, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, vol 290, 2020, pp. 109-120., doi:10.1007/978-3-662-60756-5_10 Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle. Doubleday, Page & Company. 1906. “History.” The Vegan Society. Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals. HarperCollins, 1975. “About Us.” Animal Legal Defense Fund. “April 24th: World Day for Laboratory Animals.” National Anti-Vivisection Society. “All About PETA.” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Mason, Jim, and Peter Singer. Animal Factories. Harmony Books. 1980. Garner, Robert. Political Animals: Animal Protection Politics in Britain and the United States. MacMillan Press, 1998. Doman, Erin. “How You Can Help Animals on World Farm Animals Day.” The Humane League. Published September 30, 2019. Regan, Tom. The Case for Animal Rights. University of California Press, 1985. “Meatout.”Farm Animal Rights Movement. “About Us.” Farm Sanctuary. “Board Excuses Student From Dissecting a Frog.” New York Times. May 6, 1987. Robbins, John. Diet For A New America — 25th Anniversary Edition New World Library, 2012. Libman, Gary. “On the Cutting Edge of Animal Rights Activism.” Los Angeles Times. Published April 28, 1989. “Animal Testing Feels the Heat.” The Christian Science Monitor. Published October 15, 1990. “H.R.2407 - Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992.” U.S. Congress. Harrison, Rob, et al (Editors). The Ethical Consumer. SAGE Publications, 2005. Cavalieri, Paula, and Peter Singer. “The Great Ape Project: Premises and Implications.” Altern Lab Anim, vol. 23, 1995, pp. 626-631., doi:10.1177/026119299502300513 “Circus Elephant Goes on Rampage in Hawaii.” Chicago Tribune. August 30, 1994. “Compassion Over Killing’s Powerhouse Team!.” Animal Outlook. Pressley, Sue Anne. “Oprah Winfrey Wins Case Filed by Cattlemen.” The Washington Post. Published February 27, 1998. “PETA Sued Over Beagle Video.” United Press International. Published June 18, 1997. Welsh, Jonathan. “Burlington Coat Recalls 480 Parkas, After Finding Trim Was Dog Hair.” Wall Street Journal. Published December 16, 1998. Scully, Matthew. Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy. St. Martin's Griffin, 2002. “Social Responsibility.” Forever 21. “SENATE—Tuesday, September 20, 2005.” Congressional Record—Senate. “Radical Animal Rights Group Convicted of Inciting Violence, Stalking.” Anti-Defamation League. Published March 9, 2006. “Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.” Government Printing Office. “Hearing on H.R. 2480 Truth in Fur Labeling Act A bill to improve the accuracy of fur product labeling, and for other purposes. Testimony of Michael Markarian Chief Operating Officer The Humane Society of the United States.” U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce. Published May 13, 2010. Whiting, Terry L. “The United States’ Prohibition of Horsemeat for Human Consumption: Is This a Good Law?.” Can Vet J, vol. 48, no. 11, 2007, pp. 1173-1180. “Horse Slaughter Exports to Mexico Decrease.” American Veterinary Medical Association. Published March 15, 2020. “Ban on Animal Testing.” European Union. “European Communities — Measures Prohibiting the Importation and Marketing of Seal Products.” World Trade Organization. Schneider, Mike, and Jennifer Kay. “Tilikum, Orca that Killed Trainer, Dies at SeaWorld Orlando.” Associated Press. Published January 6, 2017. “US Labor Department's OSHA Cites SeaWorld of Florida Following Animal Trainer's Death.” U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “Timeline on NIH’s Decision to End the Use of Chimpanzees in Research.” National Institutes of Health. Kim, Susanna. “The Strange World of U.S. Horse Meat Regulation.” ABC News. Published February 26, 2013. “What Is Ag-Gag Legislation?.” American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness.” Francis Crick Memorial Conference. Ferdman, Roberto A. “Chart: What the documentary ‘Blackfish’ has done to SeaWorld.” The Washington Post. Published December 14, 2014. Mohan, Vishwa. “India Bans Import of Cosmetics Tested on Animals.” Times of India. Published October 14, 2014. “SeaWorld to End Breeding Program for Killer Whales.” NBC. Published March 17, 2016. Pacelle, Wayne. “Breaking News: Key House Committee Votes to Reopen Horse Slaughter Plants in U.S..” The Humane Society of the United States. ”Nabisco Uncages Its Animal Crackers After 116 Years.” USA Today. Published August 21, 2018. “S.2556 - Welfare Of Our Furry Friends (WOOFF) Act.” 115th Congress (2017-2018). “The Fallout for United Airlines Continues After the Death of Kokito the French Bulldog.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Published March 15, 2018. “Administrator Wheeler Signs Memo to Reduce Animal Testing, Awards $4.25 Million to Advance Research on Alternative Methods to Animal Testing.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “California Becomes First State to Ban Fur Production and Sales; Animals also Barred From Circuses.” USA Today. “Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation Banning Cat Declawing.” New York State Governor’s Office.