Amber Canavan is spending the month of July in jail. Her crime? Entering a foie gras facility, where tens of thousands of ducks are intensively confined and force fed through metal pipes, and rescuing two of them.
“We still live in a world where people who commit the abuses are victims and those who expose them are criminals,” said Ms. Canavan. “I don’t want to go to jail, but my time there will be a cakewalk compared to what animals are forced to endure in foie gras factories.”
In 2011, Ms. Canavan and another activist whose identity she has protected paid a late night visit to Hudson Valley Foie Gras in upstate New York, the largest foie gras producer in the United States. While there, she documented the “deplorable” conditions in which the ducks are kept. The footage she captured was used in a foie gras exposé produced by the Animal Protection and Rescue League and narrated by actress Wendy Malick.
In February, the NY Times published a lengthy story about the incident, which linked to the video and informed readers about the “force feeding” required to produce this “controversial” dish. “I take comfort in the fact the NY Times article and the footage that I took have helped to expose the atrocities being committed against these animals,” said Ms. Canavan.
After several weeks of intensive care, the two ducks rescued by Ms. Canavan recovered from their injuries and are “flourishing” at a sanctuary, where they have access to fresh air, proper care and water for swimming. Ducks and geese are aquatic animals, but they have no access to water in foie gras factories.
The campaign to expose foie gras cruelty and hold restaurants that serve it accountable has intensified in recent years. Since 2014, activists in the U.K. with Hertfordshire Animal Rights and London Vegan Actions (LVA) have compelled at least 10 restaurants to stop selling foie gras. In recent months, LVA has staged provocative disruptions inside of establishments that refuse to remove the “delicacy of despair” from the menu.
Amber Canavan will complete her jail term at the end of July, but her punishment won’t stop there. For the next five years, an order of protection – a penalty intended to protect victims of stalkers or domestic violence – will prevent her from campaigning against Hudson Valley Foie Gras. Ms. Canavan hopes that the court’s breach of her civil liberties and “heavy-handed” jail sentence backfire by triggering activists to convince as many restaurants as possible to drop foie gras.
Amber sacrificed her safety, freedom and financial security to expose the plight of animals exploited and killed for foie gras. Now, she needs help. Please make a tax deductible donation to her legal defense fund.