Stars speak up about animal rights

Entertainers try to protect four-legged creatures

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be measured by the way in which its animals are treated.”

The quote is from Gandhi but, coincidentally enough, it was cited by both Christine Ebersole, the Tony Award-winning star of “Grey Gardens,” and another Broadway icon, Bernadette Peters, to express how deeply they feel about animal rights.

“When you’re made aware of animal exploitation for big business, it’s unconscionable,” Ebersole says. “Animal research is completely unnecessary. We don’t have the same biochemistry as rats.”

Although animal-rights activists have targeted everything from the fur trade to the humane treatment of livestock, people like Ebersole, Peters and others are focusing on the less conspicuous, more pervasive aspects of animal cruelty. She champions groups such as Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (pcrm.org) and other such sites like the vegan-oriented vegetarianshoesandbags.com as entities committed to the fair treatment of animals.

“My 11-year-old daughter now identifies beauty products that do animal testing and those that don’t,” Ebersole says. “My entire family is committed to only purchasing consumer goods not tested on animals.”

Asian film star Maggie Q concurs: “The kids, too, need to make the connection because we’re leaving this world behind for them.”

Q, who co-starred in “Mission: Impossible III,” is a co-producer along with singer-actress Persia White of “Earthlings,” an animal-rights documentary narrated by Joaquin Phoenix that was released in 2005. Work on its sequel, “Unity,” began Nov. 1. “This is how we stop things, by our choices,” Q says.

“I think it’s very important that people learn that ending violence starts in our homes,” adds White, who is active in the Humane Society of the United States (hsus.org) and also with Sea Shepherd, a whale conservation society. “We need the help of everyday citizens who refuse to stand by and allow multimillion-dollar industries to profit from pain and suffering. I see a clear connection in our attitudes toward life, violence, animals and nature.”

Animal rescue is also among the big issues of animal-rights concerns. Peters and Mary Tyler Moore co-founded Broadway Barks nearly 10 years ago in New York City. The pet adoption drive takes place each summer in Shubert Alley in Manhattan.

“People are getting the message,” Peters enthuses. “Last summer we had 130 pets from 26 shelters, and 100 of them were adopted.”

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