I'm Sam Litzinger. Welcome back to "The Animal House," where we continue our discussion with Ingrid Newkirk, President and co-founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Could you tell us a little about the history of PETA? Did you essentially wake up one day many, many years ago and say something has to be done, and I guess I'm the one that's doing it.
Well, in a way, Sam. But I was born, I think, having been drawn to animals. I've always cared about them. I've never liked any cruelty to animals at all. It breaks my heart and so I'm driven when I see that animals are being abused. But I didn't realize for years and years about the fur industry, about vegetarian living. I ate my way through the animal kingdom, but I did have a couple of things that happened to me, for example, finding an abandoned pig on a farm where the people had moved away, who was so desperate for water, could barely lift his head he was so weak, and getting help for him.
And then that night, driving home and thinking, I wonder what I have for dinner, I'm starving and realizing I had pork chops. And so there were many things that happened along the way that helped me connect the dots and think, it's not just dogs and cats, it's not just horses. It's all animals who feel pain and want to be joyous and loved and so on.
When you set out, what were the goals, and how many of them have you accomplished and how many are yet to be accomplished?
Oh, boy. Well, unfortunately, the world in which animals are exploited at their peril, when which they're hurt and they're killed, is vast. And so it's not as if there's one little area. Before I die, I want to get elephants out of the circus and I'm so happy since PETA started, that more and more areas are going to animal-free circuses, where you have paid acrobats and fire eaters and jugglers and so on and they get to go home at the end of the day. They're not in chains in the basement being hit. So, many things, I -- we did want to end the use of animals in car crash tests and we did.
Cosmetics, we've made great strides. You can buy so many wonderful shampoos and mascaras and everything you want, floor cleaner, that's not tested in rabbits' eyes, but there's still a way to go with everything. In fact, we have a long way to go and we need everybody to do what they can and get involved.
I'm sure this comes as no surprise to you, but I've heard from some people who don't like you, who don't like PETA generally. Does that bother you and does it ever make you think, maybe we should change our tactics in some way?
(laugh) No, Sam. I think actually the people who don't like us by and large are the people who are profiting from hurting animals, from exploitation. Other people don't like us because we're sometimes an embarrassment. We don't mind embarrassing ourselves and doing gimmicky things and going naked to protest fur if that's what provokes a discussion and we must make sure that people are talking about animal issues. We're pushing the envelope, that's our job.
In the end, do you think you're making a difference, because I'm assuming like any other human you must have doubts about your work and how you're doing. How are you doing? Are you satisfied?
I'm never satisfied because there are so many things. If you look at our website, you'll see not one issue or three issues, but maybe 20 issues we are vigorously pushing at any time and they run of gamut of things that are done to animals. But every week, without fail, we win victories, whether it's having someone like Goldman Sachs all over the world take out sticky glue traps in which these little animals who feel every bit as much pain and suffering as any dog, die very badly, or we just got, you know, the military to stop using monkeys in radiation tests at Aberdeen Proving Grounds or in teaching and testing. But we need to accomplish much more, and we need everybody to help us do that.
Ingrid Newkirk is President and co-founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Thank you very much for being with us in "The Animal House."
The prehistoric animal the Pterosaur was as tall as a giraffe with a wingspan the size of a city block. Long extinct for millions of years, probably fortunately for us, this enormous creature has been brought back to life in the new film, "Flying Monsters 3D." Paleontologist Doug Lawson, who actually found the partial remains of a Pterosaur was scientific advisor on the film. He joins us now from Dallas, Texas. Douglas, glad to have you with us in "The Animal House."
Hi, I'm glad to be here.
Describe the Pterosaur for us in particular. What did this creature look like back in the day?
Oh, well, if you picture a giraffe, it's about that size and about that kind of dimensions and, of course, you have to put a pair of wings on the animal and then instead of having a giraffe head, think of a stork head, about the right sizes and that's what Quetzalcoatlus and the particular Pterosaur I found would have looked like. People still call them dinosaurs and they're not really dinosaurs.
What are they?
Well, they're related to crocodiles, birds and dinosaurs and they're from that general group of reptiles called archosaurs, ruling reptiles.
Where'd you find it and how'd you find it?
Well, of course being the biggest flying creature that ever existed, you know, it's no surprise it was found in Texas, right? (laugh) It was eroding out on the side of a hill like a typical fossil. From just a few fragments it was hard to tell what it was. It wasn't until we brought back material and tried to piece it together that I realized this one chunk of sandstone and bone was -- which was about the size of a soccer ball, was actually mostly the wrist of the arm. And Pterosaurs have very unique wrists and so in one instant I knew that hey, this is a Pterosaur, because this is the only kind of animal that has that kind of wrist and it's as big as a dinosaur. So...
How about this film? That must be something because you actually now get, in a sense, a chance to see this thing in action.
Yeah. That's the fun thing about this movie is, of course, you know, David Attenborough is well known for his adventure films, right, where he goes to locality and you get to see the creature right there in its habitat and in this case, of course, he arrived as much as 195 million years too late.
(laugh) But he must've been intrigued by it.
Yeah. So to overcome that, Atlantic Productions hired some 3D animators, some 3D consultants, and put together a really spectacular rendering of Pterosaurs as if they were alive and present to complete David Attenborough's usual natural history track. Everybody comes out and says it was a spectacular movie.
Paleontologist and geologist Douglas Lawson was scientific advisor for the new film "Flying Monsters 3D." Thank you very much for being with us in "The Animal House," Douglas.
Buried treasure? Let's start digging. This is Sandra Tsing-Loh with the Loh Down on Science saying you won't believe who buried it, ground squirrels. Really, really ancient ground squirrels. Let's back up. Back in the late Pleistocene when Wooly Mammoths and equally wooly rhinoceroses were stomping around what's not Siberia, little arctic ground squirrels were busily burying nuts, seeds and fruits, treasure.
Fast forward 31,000 years. Luckily Russian Academy of Sciences researchers already did the digging, 120 feet into the permafrost among the fossil skeletons, they found fossil burrows complete with their original squirrel stashes. After some false starts with the seeds themselves, the team tried a new approach, culturing the fruits seed-making tissue. Eureka, plants developed, then matured and produced seeds of their own. Wow.
Now those seeds have grown a second generation of pleisto plants. The team thinks the unique never-thawing conditions of the permafrost maintained the seeds viability. The next oldest regenerated plant is 2,000-year-old date palm. 31,000 years, and not an ounce of freezer burn. Amazing.
The Loh Down on Science online at lohdown.org. Produced by 89.3 KPCC and the California Institute of Technology and made possible by TIAA CREF.
Dr. Gary Weitzman is standing by with answers to your questions about pets in "The Animal House."
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