Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups

By Stephen E. Atkins | Go to book overview

P

Pacheco, Alex (1958?-)

Alex Pacheco, one of the co-founders and chairperson of the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), was born around 1958 in Mexico. His father was a doctor. Pacheco grew up in Mexico and then in Ohio. After graduating from high school in Ohio, he entered Ohio State University planning to enter the priesthood after graduation. While at Ohio State, he founded a campus animal rights group after a visit to a slaughterhouse. During the summer of 1979, he worked with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Paul Franklin Watson, the head of the Sea Shepherds. Portuguese authorities briefly jailed Pacheco after the ship Sea Shepherd rammed the Sierra, a Portuguese whaling vessel. Later he traveled to England and joined the Hunt Saboteurs Association, an anti-hunting animal rights group devoted to disrupting foxhunts. He decided to transfer from Ohio State University to George Washington University and study political science.

In 1980 Pacheco joined with Ingrid Newkirk to found PETA. Pacheco was working at a local dog pound where he met Newkirk. They shared a common interest in protecting animals from scientific experimentation. One of Pacheco's first actions in PETA was a four-month undercover assignment at the Silver Springs laboratory of Maryland researcher Edward Taub. Neurological research at this facility involved surgical operations on monkeys to study sensory communication between the brain and limbs. At the end of the experiment, the monkeys were killed and their spinal cords were examined for evidence of neuron regeneration. Pacheco recorded evidence of animal abuse and removed the monkeys from the laboratory. His 1981 exposé of the mistreatment of the Silver Spring monkeys was a milestone in the animal rights movement. Not only did the laboratory face adverse publicity about animal abuse, it lost its federal grants. Taub received a citation for animal abuse although authorities later dropped the charges. Under Pacheco's leadership, PETA has become the largest animal rights organization in the United States. In 2000, PETA had over a half million members in three countries—Canada, Great Britain, and the United States. See also Animal Rights Movement; Newkirk, Ingrid; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Suggested readings: Peter Carlson, “The Great Silver Springs Monkey Debate, ” Washington Post (February 24, 1991), Magazine, p. W15; Howard LaFranchi, “Animal Research Debate Heats Up, ” Christian Science Monitor (March 10, 1989), p. 8; Gary Libman, “On the Cutting Edge of Animal Rights Activism, ” Los Angeles Times (April 28, 1989), part 5, p. 1; David

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Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Chronology of Events vii
  • Introduction xxi
  • A 1
  • B 26
  • C 57
  • D 80
  • E 89
  • F 96
  • G 110
  • H 123
  • I 137
  • J 142
  • K 149
  • L 166
  • M 184
  • N 215
  • O 230
  • P 238
  • Q 252
  • R 253
  • S 267
  • T 291
  • U 301
  • V 304
  • W 306
  • Y 326
  • Z 328
  • Selected Bibliography 331
  • Index 339
  • About the Author 375
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