The Burden of Knowing

“You literally could not go anywhere in Germany without running into forced labour camps, P.O.W. camps, concentration camps” (source)

–Hartmut Berghoff, director of the German Historical Institute in Washington DC

In May 2011, I attended a screening of the film Bold Native in Albany, New York.  Peter Young was part of a panel discussion following the film and he prefaced his remarks by listing several sites of animal abuse that were located within a short distance of where the event was being held.  This is something that he can do regardless of where he is speaking.

Approximately 10 billion land animals are killed for food every year in the United States alone.  It has been estimated that over 100 million animals are exploited in laboratories (although this number is difficult to know with any degree of precision given that the vast majority of animals used in experiments are not covered by the federal Animal Welfare Act).

Killing on this scale requires a massive infrastructure.  The numbers themselves may be impossible to relate to but wherever you might live there are very tangible elements of this infrastructure nearby.  Young said that whenever he arrived in a new place he felt compelled to find where such sites were located; he deliberately imposed on himself what he called “the burden of knowing”.

We know that right now cows are being hung upside down, having their throats cut open, and watching the blood spill from their body.  Animals in laboratories are having holes drilled into their skulls while others are being decapitated, burned, poisoned, and addicted to dangerous drugs.  Fur-bearing animals are frantically pacing in tiny cages and gradually losing their minds.  Elephants are being loaded into box cars with chains around their legs.

But this knowledge takes on a considerably greater urgency and imposes a greater burden when we know the physical address where it is happening; an ever greater urgency still if we are familiar with the path that links where we are currently sitting to where the violence is happening.  In many cases, people may pass such sites of exploitation on a daily basis perhaps on a commute to work without knowing.

When I lived in New Haven, I was amazed how many people could walk past academic buildings without ever realizing that animals are imprisoned inside.  As a point of fact, Yale University has far more animals in its laboratories than it does students in its classrooms; in that sense, it is an institution dedicated to animal exploitation that happens to offer some unrelated classes as well.

There are directories that have already been compiled and that serve as good starting points for locating such information:

The above resources have been compiled by those within the Animal Liberation movement but no less (arguably more) important are sources produced by and for animal exploiting industries themselves: industry publications, trade journals, etc (Examples: Meat & Poultry, Pork Network, Meatingplace, and more).  Often the advertisements in such publications are themselves quite valuable as they might list a business’ name, location, web address, and the “services” provided.  If information pertaining to animal experimentation is being sought much of this can be found at university websites and, specifically, faculty webpages.  Experimenters advance their careers by producing journal articles where they necessarily provide great detail on how they exploit and kill animals.  (Hint: often the most valuable information in such academic publications can be found in a section with a title such as “Materials and Methods” (animals are deemed “materials”)).

Peripheral industries and suppliers should not be overlooked.  There are many businesses that may rarely, if ever, come into physical contact with animals but instead manufacture cages, knives, saw blades, stereotaxic devices, guillotines, ear bars, and much more (spinal cord removers! brain suckers!).   Much like knowing the physical location of where animals are currently suffering, seeing the range of tools and machinery that is employed seems to heighten the reality of the ongoing animal holocaust.

These businesses are necessary components of the overall infrastructure that treats animals as disposable commodities; furthermore, in many cases they may be small businesses that manage to evade scrutiny because they do not have names that are recognizable to the general public.  The best source for up to date information in the food industry is the annually updated Red Book put out by Meat & Poultry; they also produce an additional annual publication titled, Top 100: Ranking the Industry’s Leading Companies.

For information on suppliers to the lab animal industry, the American Association of Laboratory Animal Science has an online Laboratory Animal Science Buyers Guide.  Categories in the Buyers Guide include, but are not limited to, “Animal Housing”, “Animal Model Suppliers” (live animals), “Facility Design”, “Laboratory / Surgical Equipment”, amongst others.  Like with Meat & Poultry publications, addresses, phone numbers, and websites are often provided for listed companies.

Sites such a or can generally be used to find addresses and/or phone numbers for individuals.  Perhaps someone who profits from animal exploitation or directly engages in violence toward animals lives in your neighborhood?  It could be prudent to be aware of this if it is the case.

Please feel free to use the comment section to share other valuable sources of information that I have not included above.

aero scalder

AeroScalder is entirely enclosed and consists of two chambers; an air conditioning chamber where the moisturized hot air is prepared and, next to it, the scalding chamber itself through which birds are conveyed and into which the scalding air is blown.”

Note: In the Summer 2008, a series of documents (Flashpoint Vol. I, II, III, and IV) were released with information on animal research labs, lab animal breeders, slaughterhouses, and fur farms.  These are now significantly outdated (another reason why annually published industry sources are often more reliable).  While the sources listed above are generally preferable, I have included links to the Flashpoint documents here for those who might still be interested.


UPDATE (Aug. 12, 2013): The Earth First! Wolf Hunt Sabotage Manual
“Earth First! Media has released a manual which provides detailed information for disrupting wolf hunting in those states that allow it. Titled The Earth First! Wolf Hunting Sabotage Manual, the text, complete with step-by-step graphics, explains how to find and destroy wolf traps, handle live trapped wolves in order to release them, and various methods, including the use of air-compressed horns and smoke-bombs, for stopping wolf hunts.” (source)


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