By Diane Small
The British comedian and actor’s love of animals is legendary. He’s long spoken out against animal testing, using animals for entertainment, and the wearing of fur. His pro-animal politics, expressed frequently through his amusing–and sometimes angry– Tweets have led PETA to name him their Person of the Year for 2013.
Mirroring PETA’s position against animal abuse for example, when Melissa Bachman posed with a big grin on her face, proud that she had just shot a lion, Gervais posted, “I’ll pay for each pride of lions to have their own designated sniper on their side. Now it’s a sport ….” In sync with PETA’s cruelty-free cosmetics campaign, Gervais tweeted, “Dear intelligent people of the world, don’t get shampoo in your eyes. It really stings. There. Done. Now f***ing stop torturing animals.“
“I probably don’t do anymore than anyone else on Twitter, but with 5.3 million followers, I can reach an awful lot of people at once,” Gervais told JustGiving, another charitable organisation that dubbed him the most influential celebrity on that site. “And if you’re passionate about something that has touched your heart, chances are it will touch many other people’s hearts in the same way.”
Gervais, has used his influence to raise money for MacMillan Cancer Support, but he also donates his own income to numerous environmental charities, including Cool Earth and the World Society for the Protection of Animals.
The actor, whose wide social-media influence has also earned him a top Klout score among comedians, netted more than 58,000 favourites and 83,000 retweets of his tweets about animals in 2013. His other animal advocacy work includes appearing in this animated video against fur and exotic-animal skins, in which he supplies the voice for a rabbit, with rocker Pink in the role of the crocodile.
Here are some more samples of Gervais’ trademark blend of compassion and biting wit in 140 characters or less, which make it easy to see why PETA honoured the Office creator and star last year:
“When xmas shopping please don’t buy into cruelty. No real fur, no foie gras, & don’t give anyone a Cliff Richard calendar. That’s just nasty.”
“I reckon Zombies are grumpy all the time because they only eat red meat. They must be constipated for eternity.”
“Most people I’ve met who weren’t kind to animals weren’t kind to people either. Kindness is kindness. Simple as that.
Most recently, Gervais was vehement in his attack on the dentist/trophy hunter who killed Cecil the Lion in Africa, calling the hunter ‘mental’ and tweeting his outrage constantly. In fact, some say he went to far. But he did get much support too–celebs like Cara Delevingne and Deborah Messing were very much on his side, and of course PETA supported his views thoroughly. He may be a funny guy overall, but when it comes to animal rights, he’s dead serious.
With reporting by Alisa Mullins/PETA