By Bharat Venkatesh
There is group without a voice on this planet, one that cannot fight for their own rights – animals. However, compassionate humans who wish to fight for this marginalized group do exist, and prominent among them are the husband-and-wife team of Jan Creamer and Tim Phillips, the co-founders of Animal Defenders International (ADI). Even before they founded their animal protection group, Creamer quit her graphic design job and volunteered for the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) after seeing a leaflet disseminating information about an experiment involving beagles being forced to smoke cigarettes.
Founded in 1990, ADI is an organization that champions for abused and neglected animals around the world, rescuing those in helpless situations and even fighting for policy changes to protect them from abuse in laboratories, farms and the entertainment industry. Unconventionally, they use false identities, hidden cameras, elaborate cover stories, and covert surveillance techniques to capture footage and obtain vital evidence from circuses, slaughterhouses, and laboratories. As a result, the couple have faced death threats and violent attacks from drug dealers, gunrunners and those who do not want to stop their abuse or surrender their suffering animals to better care.
Among their many achievements, ADI has prohibited the use of chimpanzees and wild monkeys in experiments in Europe, secured bans on performing animals in traveling circuses in 20 countries, ended cosmetic testing on animals throughout Europe, provided film evidence of animal abuse by Hollywood animal trainer Mary Chipperfield, the owners of Bobby Roberts Circus and employees of Have Trunk Will Travel, developed and promoted human computer simulations in university laboratories that have saved hundreds of thousands of animals around the world from experimentation, addressed lawmakers and helped draft animal protection legislation in numerous countries, and so on.
Currently, the two are participating in Operation Spirit of Freedom, involving the rescue of 33 lions from ten circuses in Peru and Columbia, and taking them back to their home to their native Africa via the biggest airlift of its kind. This operation is reminiscent of a previous effort to expose the cruel treatment of circus animals and assist in enforcement of the a national ban on circus animals in Bolivia, known as Operation Lion Ark, wherein they went undercover to rescue and relocate 25 circus lions via airlift to safer homes in the United States. A documentary film detailing the rescue was produced by ADI Films and has won awards at the Sedona International Film Festival, the Omaha Film Festival, the Sun & Sand Mississippi Film and Music Festival, the Anchorage Film Festival and the Palm Beach International Film Festival.
Further information about Operation Spirit of Freedom rescue with video: www.ad-international.org/animal_rescues/go.php?id=3825&ssi=24.