Oh for PETA’s Sake: 7 (More) Crazy Stunts

Another 12 months, and another string of public absurdities from those tireless People for the Ethical Treatment Of Animals (PETA). In previous years they’ve desecrated graveyards, exploited the homeless, dressed as the Klu Klux Klan …in fact, anything that will generate publicity by winding people up. Did the last year see a mellowing and maturing of their methods?

Well, not so much.


PETA Steals First Lady When She’s Not Looking (January 2010)

Want to be endorsed by a celebrity? Now you can, with the all-new PETA marketing technique “Shameless Theft (TM)”. If your work is in a good cause and you like the idea of, say, First Lady Michelle Obama giving it the thumbs-up, simply steal her image and slap it wherever you please. When a fuss arises, clarify that you’re “honoring” your target by featuring their image (while furthering your own aims without prior permission). Oh, and when you finally back down in a show of “good faith,” be sure to point the finger at someone else. It’s the adult thing to do.

Incidentally, this entire post is personally endorsed by those huge blue aliens in James Cameron’s Avatar. No, really.


KFC vs. PETA: Flaming Silly to Monumentally Daft (January 2010)

As we’ve noted before, there’s nothing that PETA enjoys more than the smell of roasting Kentucky Fried Chicken – the company, that is. Their latest attempts to haul this fast food corporation over the coals? Firstly, PETA wants Indianapolis fire trucks to sign an advertising deal, the same way the fire department has with the finger-lickin’ folk – and secondly, a 5.5 foot tall statue of a gory chicken on crutches, artfully monikered “KFC Cripples Chickens”.

In both cases, local officials denied the requests, citing inappropriate context and legislation and, in the former case, the fact that “advertising on a fire truck could even lead motorists to believe a truck heading for an emergency was just performing a stunt.” Quite.


Lydia Guevara Picks Up Carrot And Keeps On Shooting (June 2009)

Did you know Che Guevara’s granddaughter is vegetarian? Before mid-2009, neither did PETA, but once they twigged they wasted no time in divesting her of most of her clothes, daubing her with camouflage paint and hanging a bandolier of carrots round her neck. “Join the vegetarian revolution” ran the accompanying tagline. Self-proclaimed nonviolent PETA associating itself with bloody Cuban guerrilla warfare? In the fight for animal rights, it seems the first casualty is your own core principles.


Sorry Old Boy, A Machine Could Do Your Job (November 2009)

Poor old Uga VII. The latest in the line of beloved bulldog mascots of the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia) recently passed away, leaving his post temporarily open – and PETA leapt in with the suggestion of a robotic substitute. It’s a fact that bulldogs (originally bred to fight) are so famous for their health problems that the Kennel Club recently voted to change the pedigree standards to breed out its congenital ailments.

That’s PETA’s reasoning for the switcheroo (and we’re sure virtual pet makers Nintendo and Bandai are cheering them on). But why not encourage the University to seek a mascot from America’s brimming animal rescue shelters, guys? Our tails aren’t wagging.


PETA’s Unhappiest Side: Children Yet Again Considered Fair Game (August 2009)

Oh, PETA. However endearingly barmy your antics sometimes are…sometimes you’re just plain frightening. If the image of a throat-cut clown hung upside-down wasn’t graphic enough, PETA members have also been handing out “Unhappy Meals” to visitors of a McDonald’s in Albany, New York, comprising of a t-shirt (“McCruelty”) inside an imitation burger box spattered with fake blood. All this, to children.


Don’t Toy With Your Food: Flinging Fishmongers Catch It From PETA  (June 2009)

Wander through Seattle Pike Place Market at the right time, and you’ll see flying fish. The market’s fishmongers are famous for their sure-handed fish flinging skills, and are consequently much in demand as a dazzling spectacle for hire. When the American Veterinary Medical Association employed them for a motivational conference demonstration, PETA ticked them off in a letter that raged “it’s cruel enough to eat fish, but it literally adds insult to injury to use them as toys for silly stunts.” (Except they didn’t really mean “fish” there).

PETA are fed up to the gills with dead creatures being gruesomely displayed in public. So hey, what about living ones?


Your Name – It’s A Sin (April 2009)

British electronic music duo Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, better known as the Pet Shop Boys, are currently enjoying a revival of their iconic ’80s sounds. But what’s this? “Pet Shop”? Yes, you guessed it: PETA want them to relabel themselves the Rescue Shelter Boys.

If this attempt had been successful, perhaps rock legend Meat Loaf would now be called “Vegetable Terrine” – but thankfully Tennant and Lowe turned PETA down while graciously agreeing that the request “raises an issue worth thinking about” (and we tend to agree).

By no means are all of PETA’s actions founded on shock tactics, infringements on human dignity and general negativity. We like a lot of what PETA stands for – yet we wish it would grow up a little, because what it could do is surely too important to be ruined by what it actually does. That’s our view. What’s yours?

Images: sabianmaggy, ccharmon, mikebaird, sqeakymarmot, Mrs Logic, EatMeDaily, JasonDeRusha,

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.