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In Defense of Animals (IDA) is an animal rights organization founded in 1983 in San Rafael, Californiamarker, USAmarker. It boasts 60,000 members and an annual budget of $650,000. The group's slogan is "working to protect the rights, welfare, and habitats of animals".

IDA has become known, in particular, for its campaigns against animal experiments conducted by the U.S. military, and experiments in which baby monkeys are separated from their mothers. Journalist and author Deborah Blum has described its strategy as, "pure pit bull. It picks a target carefully and refuses to let go."


Dr. Elliot M.
Dr Elliot M. Katz, a veterinarian, has presided over IDA since founding the organization in 1983.

Katz is a graduate of Cornell Universitymarker's School of Veterinary Medicine. He became involved in animal rights issues when his help was sought by activists wanting to end animal experimentation at the allegedly overcrowded laboratories of the University of California, Berkeleymarker. In response, Katz helped set up Californians for Responsible Research, which campaigned for the university to provide better care for the animals.

Since then, IDA has become an international animal advocacy organization. Headquartered in Northern California, it has offices throughout the United States and branches in India and Africa.

Programs and campaigns

IDA works for the protection of animals used in scientific research, food and clothing production, entertainment and sport, and other areas. Its methods include coordinating protests and nonviolent civil disobedience actions including sit-ins, lock downs and banner hangings.

Ongoing programs include a campaign aimed at improving conditions for elephants in zoos and circuses. IDA was one of many animal protection organizations that helped shut down the Coulston Foundation, once the largest chimpanzee research center in the world.

The organisation's other achievements include:

  • IDA investigator Ben White setting free dolphins off the coast of Japanmarker by swimming underwater to cut the nets that imprisoned them.

  • Creating a chimpanzee sanctuary and education center in Cameroon in 1999 and a sanctuary for abused and abandoned animals in rural Mississippimarker.

  • Spearheading the rescue of hundreds of dogs and cats after a devastating "firestorm" swept through the Oaklandmarker/Berkeleymarker hills in California, destroying more than 3,500 homes.

  • Ending New York Universitymarker's crack cocaine experiments on monkeys as part of the Coulston Foundation. In 1995, the US Department of Agriculture backed IDA's claims by accusing the foundation of "keeping several dozen chimpanzees in undersize cages and causing the avoidable deaths of at least five chimpanzees."

  • Campaigning against Rockefeller Universitymarker’s neurophysiology experiments on cats. This campaign was supported by PETA. IDA claimed that cats were fully conscious during experiments. The university has denied this. After 18 months of protests by IDA, the university ended the experiments in 1998.
  • Ending brain cancer experiments on beagle puppies in 2001 in Phoenix, Arizonamarker by launching a lawsuit against a scientist.

Action against elephants in zoos

IDA believes that zoos lead to the premature deaths of elephants and that "urban zoos simply don’t have enough space for these magnificent, intelligent animals" IDA's campaign against elephants in zoos is also supported by animal rights group, PETA and the Humane Society of the United States. IDA publishes an annual list of the "10 worst zoos for elephants".

IDA claimed it pressured the San Francisco Zoomarker to transfer its elephants to a sanctuary in 2004. However, the zoo claimed IDA had "little to do" with the decision to transfer the elephants.

This is part a wider campaign in which the IDA has claimed a number of American zoos such as the National Zoomarker in Washington DCmarker have violated the Animal Welfare Act. IDA claims that the US Department of Agriculture has acknowledged "the gravity of concern over the poor conditions for elephants in our nation's zoos" However, Woodland Park Zoomarker have said in response to IDA that "the limited-space argument is simplistic and ... that elephants in accredited zoos receive the best possible care."


External links

IDA sites and campaigns:

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