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By Chere Di Boscio
It’s a sad fact that no matter where you go, there seems to be animal exploitation on an incredible scale. From circuses, bullfights and elephant rides to fur, food and medical farms, animals live in a hellish world dominated by humans and the only beasts who are truly free are those living in ever-shrinking areas of wilderness.
This is something that award-winning photojournalist and author Jo-Anne McArthur documented for years and is now displaying with her We Animals Archive, a free-to-use resource featuring thousands of stunning high resolution photographs of animals, including hundreds of previously unseen images. As part of her We Animals project, McArthur has spent the last fifteen years taking photos in over 50 countries and is allowing free access to her images in order to help raise awareness of the plight of animals exploited in different industries and contexts around the world.
A strong supporter of animal rights for most of her life, McArthur was the focus of the acclaimed documentary The Ghosts in our Machine, and is the author of We Animals. Her second book, Captive, will be released in summer 2017. Her powerful images have been exhibited around the globe from Helsinki to Sydney. National Geographic, The Guardian and many other media outlets have featured her work. No wonder she has been honored with various accolades from organisations such as Huffington Post, CBC and numerous animal protection organizations.
“I’m thrilled to be releasing the We Animals Archive into the world,” says McArthur. “My work has shown me that, so often, the animals languishing in cages on fur farms, suffering at the end of a rope, or even resting peacefully in the arms of their rescuers, are invisible to so many of us. I want these images to be used in the hope that people truly see the way animals currently exist in our society.”
Animals may not be able to speak, but McArthur’s goal is to create photographs that communicate on their behalf – and she has achieved that beautifully.
The We Animals Archive is often difficult to look at, and is sometimes joyful, too. But it’s always a testament to McArthur’s dedication to showing the plight of animals in a way that few photographers ever have before. The archive is packed with thousands of frank images and videos of animals being used for food, clothing, research, work, entertainment, as well as animals rescued from those industries, living their new lives in sanctuaries, refuges, and as beloved companions. Hopefully, it will make those of us who haven’t adopted a vegan lifestyle yet to be more conscious of how our consumption of food, clothing, medicine and entertainment impacts other intelligent, sentient creatures.
For those with compassion, it can be overwhelming to see such exploitation. We recommend living a fully vegan lifestyle as the first step towards ending the suffering of animals, and then if you’d like to donate to a charity, we personally recommend the Sheldrick Trust (for elephants), the Born Free Foundation or McArthur’s favourite, Animal Equality.
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Penguin enclosure at Sea World
Dog used for animal testing
Asiatic moon bear at a roadside zoo, Vietnam
Describing dairy farming
Lion in a zoo enclosure
Chimp in a zoo
Puppies in a puppy mill cage
British fox hunters
Beluga whale enclosure, Marineland
Calf on a farm