We Animals raising awareness on animal ethics across the globe

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • Moonbear rescued by the Animal Asia Foundation, courtesy of Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

    Moonbear rescued by the Animal Asia Foundation, courtesy of Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Written by Abigel Lemak

Jo-Anne McArthur has been a working documentary photographer for over a decade, shooting editorials, weddings, food and other events to fund the We Animals Project. 

The project is described as one that “aims to break down the barriers that humans have built which allow us to treat non-human animals as objects and not as beings with moral significance. The objective is to photograph our interactions with animals in such a way that the viewer finds new significance in these ordinary, often unnoticed situations of use, abuse and sharing of spaces” (taken from www.weanimals.org).

In her talk last Monday, Jan 16, McArthur presented a slide show featuring some of her shots from around the world, demonstrating the inspirational global movement for animal ethics. Each photograph contained a story, recounting her visits to animal sanctuaries around the world as well as the shocking images captured undercover in farming and entertainment industries. The focus of her presentation was to inspire empathy and compassion for all animals, as people often elevate themselves above their neighbouring species.

The group gathered in the lecture room in Mackinnon appeared to be part of a community already conscious of animal rights issues as they chatted amongst themselves, happily munching on vegan cupcakes. Perhaps the event could have benefited from more advertising for the event, in hopes of bringing new eyes to these prevalent issues. Once the presentation began, the atmosphere of the room gave way to a feeling of comfort, as audience members openly communicated their discontent at the shocking images of human cruelty inflicted upon animals. The scenes depicted in the images McArthur captured include minks forced to cannibalize in small cages, white rabbits frozen in fear as they wait to be strung up for slaughter and moonbears calloused and scared from spending decades tortured for their bile. 

The presentation aimed to remain positive in light of the incredible support emerging world-wide. The room oohed and aahed in pleasure as they watched images of rescued dogs, chickens, gorillas (to name a few) and the close bonds they shared with their human companions. 

What McArthur’s photography provides are the skills to capture the incredible and unnecessary suffering people inflict on animals in a world that has grown accustomed  distance and apathy. Her photographs inspire empathy and have helped the campaigns of leading animal rights groups like Sea Shepherd, the Jane Goodall Institute, Rachel’s promise among many others. The money she earns for her commercial work funds her We Animals project and allows for her to shed light on events typically imagined as mundane, bringing out the pain from the perspective of the animals.

Throughout her presentation, McArthur kept stressing the importance of doing what you love as well as the value of empathy and a compassionate way of living. Her talk did not draw on guilt or anger or judgment against people who don’t live her particular vegan-styled life. Instead, it rooted from a desire to do good and promote a kind of passion that inspires people not only to do what they love, but to provide a service to their community and fellow animal members.

For more information on We Animals, click here

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