Animal Rights Groups You May Not Have Heard Of

In the wake of the news of the death of Cecil, Zimbabwe's favorite lion, many animal lovers and conservationists are protesting the unlawful killing. There have been demonstrations outside of hunter and Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer's home and office this week, while conservation groups are appalled that Palmer lured Cecil out of a nature preserve to shoot and kill him. Animal rights are now a main topic of public conversation, as many have taken to social media and the streets to express their anger over Cecil's tragic death. Some people may be wondering what can you do to protect animals, as well as who some key players are in the animal rights movement.

Animal rights are a far-reaching and broad movement, incorporating everything from factory farming to shelters that euthanize domestic animals to illegal poaching of large game. Most people are aware of organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society, but there are so many more groups out there which also do excellent work to protect animals. Here's a look at some lesser-known animal rights organizations you should familiarize yourself with.

African Wildlife Foundation

Focusing their efforts not only on African animals but also on land and habitat conservation, the African Wildlife Foundation works with African people to protect land and wildlife. Species they focus on include rhinos, apes, and zebras. They also have an anti-poaching initiative in Cameroon's Faro National Park, and lead conservation-based cultural programming such as the Esilalei Women's Cultural Boma, which empowers Tanzanian women to earn money without participating in harmful ecological practices.

Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is home to the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the U.S. The sanctuary homes several species of animals, including horses, dogs, cats, pigs, and rabbits. It also provides animal adoption services, spaying and neutering procedures, and is committed to the no-kill movement. They also fight to end the commercial breeding of pets, and work to destigmatize pit bull terriers, which are often killed in shelters.


The Farm Animal Rights Movement is a nonprofit organization that seeks to end the consumption of animals for food. Using activism and education programs, FARM has created several days for action and awareness campaigns, including World Day for Farmed Animals, Gentle Thanksgiving, and Meatout Mondays. Focusing on grassroots education that encourages veganism in the U.S., FARM has been actively working to protect farm animals since the early 1980s.

The Marine Mammal Center

The Marine Mammal Center is a not-for-profit "marine mammal veterinary hospital and education center." The Center runs animal care and research facilities that benefit marine mammals, and work for solutions to global marine conservation issues. The Center also rescues and rehabilitates sick and injured marine mammals, focusing especially on sea lions, harbor seals, and elephant seals.

International Anti-Poaching Foundation

Seeking to end the practice of poaching around the world, the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) provides training to anti-poaching rangers, who then go out in the field to protect wildlife. The IAPF currently operates in four countries: Australia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and the United States. Working to conserve wildlife and natural habitats, IAPF protects key areas that are heavily affected by poaching, such as the Greater Lebombo Conservancy in South Africa.

Images: African Wildlife Foundation; Best Friends Animal Society; FARM; The Marine Mammal Center; International Anti-Poaching Foundation