A Critical Time for Animal Stories: Welcome to We Animals Media

Jul 15, 2019 | Feature, Why We Do This Work

Text and images by Jo-Anne McArthur.  

With the number of animals inside factory farms growing, wild animal populations declining, and the world facing a climate crisis, now is the time to broaden our scope and create a collective for change.

We Animals Media Founder Jo-Anne McArthur. Photo: Lesley Marino

Welcome to We Animals Media, a global media agency dedicated to making visible the lives of animals trapped in the human world.  This evolution of We Animals is the next phase of our mission to tell animals’ stories through an empathic lens, inspire and mentor the next-generation media makers; creating bridges between social movements, and inspiring solutions that will result in a kinder and healthier world for all. 

Political activist Susan Sontag wrote at length about looking at the suffering of others. Who should look? When, and why? The answer that she, and many others came to, is that anyone who can help, should look.

Looking at the suffering of animals is perhaps especially hard.  To look at the suffering of animals is to face our complicity in it – we eat animals, we wear them, we test our medicines on them, and we put them in cages and arenas as entertainment.

For over 15 years, millions of people have seen and been moved by our work. With the number of animals inside factory farms growing, wild animal populations declining, and the world facing a climate crisis, now is the time to broaden our scope and create a collective for change.

When I started photographing animals in the Anthropocene, editors still turned their backs on the subject matter. It was near impossible to get these important stories published. I’m happy to report that has changed. We’re in the midst of a global rise of engagement in animal journalism, a collective seeing. This visibility is creating change for animals.

Going further, we want to empower and celebrate change-makers on all fronts. We’re highlighting the good work being done in the world, be it at the grassroots level or in the highest offices of government. The movement to protect animals is big and multi-faceted; We Animals Media is documenting the history of this social movement as it happens.

This is a critical time to be telling the stories of animals. They have been bred by the billions to serve us, and wild animals continue to lose their habitat and their lives. Industrial farming is a massive contributor to pollution, deforestation, and climate change, which in turn affects all animals, both land and sea.

As the field of ethology continues to gain footing in scientific discourse – revealing more about the wonderful complexity and unquestionable sentience of animals – we understand now, more than any time in history, the extent of suffering, surreal horror and infinite sadness animals in their legion are subjected to and that knowing is providing the momentum for social change.

For a long time, the We Animals project was a solo-pilot mission: just me and my camera, out in the field. The struggle to circulate and publish the stories my images revealed was real. It’s thrilling to be able to say that We Animals is now a team effort and what this will mean going forward: for there is power in numbers, there is power in collaboration, there is power in telling these stories; and the more storytellers, the greater impact. The world has finally paused to consider the unseen and we want to ensure these hidden animal lives are documented in the most engaging, timely and effective ways possible. We Animals Media is that lens.

Thank you for joining me – and our growing team – on this journey.

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