Activists + > Celebrity Interviews

Brigitte Bardot needs no introduction. She is well known as an animal activist worldwide and has relentlessly used her celebrity status to challenge existing misinformation and ignorance against and about animals. For many years she has been dedicated to the protection of animals and in that mission has virtually left no stone unturned. She was there in 1962, the first person in France to publicly denounce barbarian methods of slaughtering, in 1977 she went to see for herself the massacre of baby seals, in 1987 she auctioned off her jewelry and personal effects to create an animal foundation in France and in late 1988 she transferred the headquarters of her Foundation to Paris, where she was able to implement more extensive tools of action for the animals.

Today she rarely gives interviews but she's speaking to us because she wants Australian and New Zealand activists to know that she is aware of our own peculiar problems with native wildlife, the kangaroos, and of course factory farmed animals. Her message to all activists is "Keep fighting the good fight."

Interview by Claudette Vaughan and first published in Vegan Voice June 2001.

Claudette: Do you like the way that the animal rights movement is developing? What do you perceive as its strengths and/or weaknesses at this point in time?
Brigitte: There has never been a case in history where so many animals have been slaughtered en mass as to today. The weaknesses come from our governments, which are unable to apply directives and to take their responsibilities seriously.
Claudette: Do you make a distinction between animal rights and animal welfare?
Brigitte: No and I'll tell you why. Animals have no rights and have no protections so there is no difference. I have tried desperately in the past, and I am still trying with my popularity and with my name to make things change. In short, to make a difference in these animals lives.
Claudette: Please tell me about your Foundation. Why did you set it up and what are its aims and objectives?
Brigitte: My Foundation, the "Fondation Brigitte Bardot" was created in 1986, with the selling of all my goods which were in my possession: my house "la Madrague" in St Tropez, my family jewels, those given to me by my husband Gunter Sachs, my dresses, my furniture. So I came to an amount, which allowed me to ensure its continuation, and obtain official recognition as a public service organisation. The Foundation is now in a position to bring cases before the courts and to accept legacies.

So we are able to protect all the domestic and wild animals of France and all over the world.

Claudette: In your achievements so far for the animals what ones are you most proud of?
Brigitte: None! None whatsoever! For every victory has lead to a defeat: baby seals, fur, hunting, horse-meat what a horror! It is never ending and I am 66 years old. Frankly, I am tired with all these fights leading us one step forward and three steps back. All of these short victories have turned into big defeats. Nevertheless we will not give up.
Claudette: You have been a tireless activist and an international voice for all animals around the world. The downside of this is you are also an easy target for criticism of a personal particularly vicious kind. How do you deal with that?
Brigitte: I have spent my entire life trying to make people respect all animal life. The respect of their lives is as ours, essential to the ecological system as well. It has been my experience that almost everyone does not care about this issue, and I cannot be everywhere. The human race makes me feel so upset. It is money that rules this world and leads to the worst possible atrocities.
Claudette: In Australia of recent times you have lent your support to Animal Lib's "Free Chook" campaign and you have also spoken out about the horrendous slaughtering of our kangaroos. Is there anything you want to say to Australian activists?
Brigitte: Yes. I think it is plainly an awful thing to slaughter these wonderful creatures in order to eat them. Why can we not see this fact? And why do human beings only ever think about eating! If one eats everything that one can eat then one dies from cancers, cholesterol, and heart attacks. I say "Fair enough" too. I think it is a disgusting thing to eat animals.
Claudette: How would you like to be remembered Brigitte?
Brigitte: It is not important how people remember me in the future. The most important thing is what happens today. When I am dead and gone I do not care what people think of me.
Claudette: Do you ever envision a day when the human race will treat nonhuman animals with love and respect unconditionally?
Brigitte: The non-human animals are in fact the ones that I would call human. To deserve the title of human, they should try and apply it to themselves. This is what the dictionary tells them that "human" means: doing the right thing, being honest, charitable, being open to others, rising above self-interest.... How many humans do you know that fit that definition?
Claudette: What personal campaigns are you running at present?
Brigitte: I, with my Foundation, am fighting on every side. But today, our fight is focused on livestock animals travelling in awful conditions to the slaughterhouses. We also are fighting against dog fighting, and we are doing our best to rescue as many bears in Eastern Europe these slaves of the circuses in which they are obliged to dance on hot plates. So in conjunction with other Associations we have created a Sanctuary to rescue these bears and allow them to live out the remainder of their lives in a safe, wide-open space.

Fur is also one of our major battles. We did advertise in French newspapers, and it seems to work. We also belong to an organisation, the Fur Free Alliance (FFA) that is a coordination of various European associations.

Claudette: What else?
Brigitte: Many dogs are victims of traffic accidents in France. Every summer these poor dogs are victims of euthanasia for the mere reason that they were initially abandoned on the side of the road. Their owners think that it is better to spend 8 days on holidays rather than keep the family pet which has given them unconditional love all this time!

There are also the terrible massacres of the African elephants for ivory. And then there's the rhinoceroses, the whales and the dolphins. What about them? This is an unforgivable genocide. Wolves, foxes, monkeys, all brave and mythical animals so close to us, are slaughtered because of their intelligence, and their marvelous independence. Why? Why? There are so many things left to do. We must all play our part.

Claudette: You were given a hard time initially by animal activists who were suspicious of your motives in the beginning. Were you disappointed with them?
Brigitte: You know, when your name is Brigitte Bardot, and that you quit everything to work on animal welfare, you may appear to some as capricious. In the beginning it was very hard for me, and very risky to learn everything at once in this new domain. I found myself swamped with all these new problems that presented themselves to me. I wept bitterly and I carried mountains. I have also been the subject of mockery and ingratitude from animal activists; but I kept on going even when I was desperate. After 30 years of fighting for animals I have finally been accepted and am looked upon with credibility.

Nowadays I am proud of myself, and proud of my Foundation. Of all the work that has been accomplished it is love for these animals which has been the goal of my life.

Claudette: What was in your background that led you to animal activism?
Brigitte: Animals have never betrayed me. They are an easy prey, as I have been throughout my career. So we feel the same. I love them. That's the only reason.
Claudette: What do you think is the key to establishing "ground rules" for teaching people how to treat animals.
Brigitte: If we do not learn to love all animals we will never learn how to be complete how to love humans and how to share that experience. What will happen then is we will stay a fool for life, and then we will die alone.
  Brigitte Bardot Foundation website:
http://www.fondationbrigittebardot.fr/site/homepage.php?Id=2