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Henry Spira

Henry Spira (June 19, 1927 - September 12, 1998) was a prominent animal rights activist in the United States. Though born in Antwerp, Belgium, he and his family moved to America in the years prior to the Second World War.


Apparently, one of the major influences on Spira was Peter Singer's 1973 work, Animal Liberation. In 1974, Spira founded Animal Rights International (ARI) and in 1976, he led the ARI's campaign against vivisection on cats by the American Museum of Natural History; it was the first such campaign ever to succeed in stopping the experiments.

Another famous campaign was targeted at cosmetics giant Revlon's use of the Draize test, which involved the blinding of animals - in this case, rabbits - to determine whether cosmetic products were irritants. On April 15, 1980, Spira and the ARI took out a full page advert in the New York Times, with the header, How many rabbits does Revlon blind for beauty's sake? As a result, Revlon began research into "cruelty free" alternatives.

Other campaigns have targeted the face branding of cattle, the poultry industry, and fast food giant KFC (with an advert that combined a KFC bucket and a toilet). Nevertheless, Spira was an advocate of gradual change, for example, negotiating with McDonald's for better conditions in the slaughterhouses of its suppliers.