People We Admire: Brigitte Bardot, animal rights activist

One of the most tireless campaigners for animal rights — and someone that Paul Penders much admires — is the still-gorgeous ex-movie star Brigitte Bardot. “Her persistence, willpower and unreserved love for animals have elevated her to the rank of International Ambassadress for the protection of animals.”

Through the years since her retirement from films in 1973, she has received international attention for her strong stances against animal cruelty. She has fought many battles against the killings of seals, dolphins and other marine animals, the consumption of horse meat, and the ritual slaughter of sheep. Recently, she has been instrumental in bringing an end to the Spanish tradition of bullfighting in Spain and elsewhere.

Always outspoken and sometimes radical in her views, in January 2013, she threatened to give up her French citizenship and move to Russia like her friend, film star Gerard Depardieu, has done recently, in order to save two tubercular elephants from being destroyed under orders from French government officials.

She established “The Brigitte Bardot Foundation for the Welfare and Protection of Animals” in 1986 to defend animal rights. Her foundation does not specialise in a specific area. “Its ambition is to be at the heart of the fight for animal rights, whatever this may entail. It acts to heighten awareness, inform, relieve and save. It intervenes anywhere in the world where there is mistreatment of and cruelty towards animals.”

Brigitte Bardot has been for most of her life a symbol of French culture and one of its greatest champions. In 1970, when sculptor Alain Gourdon was commissioned to make a bust of Marianne, the French national emblem, he chose Brigitte Bardot as his model. When she threatens to give up her citizenship in order to save animals, her activism has real power to make positive change.

She has also managed to anger and offend many people over the years by her sometimes radical perspectives on issues. Still — that willingness to stand up and take action for what she believes to be right makes her truly admirable.

By Teviot Fairservis.


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