Bob Barker and Animal Activism

How many of us were able to watch The Price is Right when we were younger? Back when Bob Barker hosted the popular daytime game show? Does anyone remember the quip he snuck in frequently right before the credits rolled?

“Bob Barker reminding you to help control the pet population.  Have your pets spayed or neutered.”

As it turns out, this wasn’t simply for the sake of screen time.  In 1979, at the age of 56, Bob Barker became a vegetarian and, a couple years later following the passing of his wife, became highly involved in animal activism. He credits her for getting him involved and notes that she was far ahead of her time in recognizing animal rights.

It was shortly after this time that he began ending segments of The Price is Right with his famous phrase, and it carried over – even covertly – into other events that he hosted. Barker had been a part of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants for a 20-year period before stepping down due to the pageant’s refusal to remove fur prizes from the program. The quiet rebellion and on-screen activism was only the beginning of Barker’s campaign to advocate for animal rights. Eventually, he would take a much more prominent, center-stage role.

While too old to contribute to animal activism in any particularly physical form, Barker has been known for dedicating millions of dollars toward various programs, even founding his own charity the DJ&T Foundation, in 1994 which sponsors animal rescue and park facilities across the United States as well as funds neutering programs to – as you guessed – help control the pet population. He had also spearheaded studies toward animal rights in 2004 by donating $1 million to Columbia University, which had gone toward funding an adjunct professorship in animal rights law as well as opening a student clinic in environmental law.

Barker eventually became more deeply involved at the base level, visiting various sites of suspected animal abuse, including a Cherokee reservation which maintained three separate zoos. Barker had alleged that one of the zoos maintained a poor living atmosphere for one of their bears and formally requested the exhibit be closed before involving PETA in an investigation of the site. While no wrongdoing was found on part of Federal investigators, it was clear that Barker was no longer taking a backseat with his work toward more humane animal rights.

2010 was a particularly eventful year for Bob Barker’s efforts, the same year that controversy arose involving Japanese whalers’ activities in the Southern Ocean, an area frequented by whale populations and prohibited for hunting by the International Whaling Commission. Barker had privately funded efforts in the amount of $5 million to accommodate a ship in the effort of intervening with the Japanese whaling fleet that was said to have operations there. In recognition of his contribution, the ship’s crew christened it MY Bob Barker.  Barker also funded a helicopter to be added to the fleet.

Barker was also known for a $2.5 million contribution to PETA toward building and renovating an office in the Los Angeles area, a project finally completed in 2012. The building officially opened under the name Bob Barker Building, an homage to his generous contributions.

Beyond these, Barker is known for his contributions toward various universities to fund animal law studies as well as his conservation efforts, from ceasing experimentation on cats to relocating circus lions, even to intervening at the state level to advocate against cruelty to pigeons in Pennsylvania. And while many remember him as the charismatic game show host of The Price is Right, many others in particular institutions know him for his unceasing efforts toward the ethical treatment of animals.

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