Ingrid Newkirk

On this date in 1949, animal rights advocate Ingrid E. Newkirk was born in Surrey, England. The family moved to India when she was 7 after her father, a navigational engineer, took a job there. Her mother volunteered at Mother Teresa facilities and Newkirk attended a convent boarding school, where she was the only British student. “I was hit constantly by nuns, starved by nuns. The whole God thing was shoved right down my throat,” she told The New Yorker in April 2003.

The family moved to Florida when she was 18. She met her husband there (they divorced in 1980). Under Newkirk’s leadership in the 1970s as the District of Columbia’s first female poundmaster, the first spay/neuter clinic was started in Washington, along with an animal adoption program and public funding of some veterinary services.

Newkirk and Alex Pacheco co-founded People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in 1980. National prominence came after Pacheco photographed 17 macaque monkeys being experimented on inside the Institute of Behavioral Research in Silver Spring, Md. That led to the first police raid in the U.S. on an animal research lab and to a 1985 amendment to the Animal Welfare Act.

As the longtime president of PETA, she saw it grow into a Norfolk, Va.-based nonprofit with 300 employees and international affiliates. She has written numerous articles and books, including Save the Animals! 101 Easy Things You Can Do, The Compassionate Cook, One Can Make a Difference and The PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights.

PHOTO: Newkirk in 1970 with Little Man, photographer David Shankbone’s Chihuahua, CC 3.0.

Freedom From Religion Foundation