He’s won multiple Emmys. He’s appeared in movies. He’s known all over the world for his 35 years as host of TV’s “The Price is Right.” If you asked Bob Barker, 90, what his life’s greatest achievement really is, however, chances are he’ll tell you it’s animal advocacy.
Much like Sam Simon, co-creator of “The Simpsons,” Barker believes in putting his wealth to use now, not after he’s gone. Here are only 10 of the many amazing things he’s done to advocate for animal rights and animal welfare:
1. Cameo Appearance on “The Bold and the Beautiful“ to Bring Attention to Animal Rescue
In late April 2014, Barker appeared as himself on the CBS daytime drama “The Bold and the Beautiful” as part of a three-day story arc on the issue of animal rescue. One of the show’s characters interviewed him about controlling pet populations. Barker encourages the character to visit the South Los Angeles Animal Shelter, also prominently featured that week on the show.
All the attention on rescued pets during this story arc prompted three CBS employees to adopt pets of their own from the shelter, including actress Melody Scott Thomas from “The Young and the Restless.”
2. HIV-Infected Research Chimpanzees Get a New Home at Chimp Haven
When five chimps couldn’t make it from a research laboratory to a sanctuary because of their HIV-infected status, Bob Barker eagerly stepped up. In 2012, he donated $380,000 to Chimp Haven in Keithville, La. That funding enabled the sanctuary to build a special care facility for them and took care of its operating costs for the first full year.
“I have waited months for this occasion,” Barker said the day the new facility was opened. “After 30 years of being locked in cages, these chimpanzees now have the choice to lie in the grass and look up at the sky—day or night. They can climb trees and build nests. And best of all, they can do it with each other. Seeing this today has me choked up.”
3. Three Elephants Travel in Style to New Sanctuary Home
Barker spent years trying to get three African elephants relocated from the Toronto Zoo to a sanctuary in southern California. He finally did it in 2013, spending $1 million of his own money to pay for transport in specially equipped trailers with accompanying veterinary personnel and handlers to ease the journey.
The elephants, Thika, Iringa and Toka, today roam happily at the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s ARK 2000 sanctuary, enjoying hundreds of acres of natural terrain, as well as lakes, pools, heated stalls and an indoor therapy pool. It’s quite the life.
“It was more than emotional for me, for all of us,” Barker told the Sacramento Bee of the day the elephants arrived. “I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. It’s hard to believe they are finally here.”
4. PETA Gets a New Los Angeles Office
When animal activist organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) needed a new office on the West Coast, Barker ponied up $2.5 million in 2012 to make it happen. He bought them an entire building in Los Angeles.
In return, PETA honored Barker by naming their newly renovated L.A. office the Bob Barker Building. Dog-friendly and all-vegan, the office houses PETA’s communications, marketing, youth outreach and International Grassroots Campaign departments.
“I support a long list of organizations, but I support PETA because I think that internationally it is probably the most productive of all animal-oriented organizations,” said Barker at the grand opening of the renovated building named in his honor.
5. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Gets New Ship
When Bob Barker met the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s (SSCS) Captain Paul Watson, Watson made a no-nonsense pledge.
“He said he thought he could put the Japanese whaling fleet out of business if he had $5 million,” Barker told the Christian Science Monitor. “I said, ‘I think you do have the skills to do that, and I have $5 million, so let’s get it on.”
Barker’s amazing gift enabled the SSCS to buy a 1,200-ton Norwegian built harpoon vessel which the organization refitted to its own anti-whaling purposes. That new ship now bears Barker’s name. Barker also funded the cost of a helicopter that escorts the SSCS’s ships out in the field.
“I’m delighted to be able to help the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in its mission to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans,” said Barker. “There is lot of talk about preserving our ecosystems and species, but this is one organization that puts these words into action.”
6. 25 Bolivian Lions Escape Horrible Circus Life For Colorado Sanctuary
Barker partnered with Animal Defenders International (ADI) to make Operation Lion Ark a reality in 2011. He helped fund a $200,000 airlift of 25 lions rescued from eight Bolivian circuses. After Bolivia’s game-changing 2009 prohibition on using any animals in circuses, Bolivian authorities accompanied ADI to find these lions and seize them.
The lions were found in cramped cages, malnourished and dehydrated. They were free, but had nowhere to go. That is, until Bob Barker assisted with the money to get them to sanctuary in Colorado.
“To look into those eyes, and those cubs, and to think I’ve played even a small part in making their lives not circuses, not those horrific conditions, and bringing them to the nearest possible thing to their natural habitat brings a lump to my throat,” Barker told ABC News.
7. Barker Offers University Big Bucks to Stop Experimenting on Cats
Washington University in St. Louis was reportedly the last university in the country to use sedated cats to teach its pediatric medical students how to properly intubate newborns. A cat’s upper airway closely approximates the airway of a newborn baby, which is why live cats were used for many years for this training.
It’s a method no longer endorsed and no longer practiced by most schools. When Bob Barker heard it was still going on, he made an offer to the school.
If they’d stop using cats, he’d give them $75,000 to buy two state-of-the-art pediatric simulators. This was the second time Barker pleaded to save cats from this type of treatment. He also successfully helped convince the University of Virginia to end cat intubation.
Washington University agreed in June 2013 to stop using cats for this purpose. It’s not clear if they took Barker up on his offer or not, but the negative press he generated on this issue surely made all the difference.
8. Wildlife Rehabilitation Group Asks For $5,000 But Gets a Whole Lot More
A Texas-based wildlife rescue organization called Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation (WRR) found itself in desperate need of an avian ventilator in 2012. At $5,000 a pop, ventilators aren’t cheap. WRR decided to ask Bob Barker if he’d fund the purchase for them. His response knocked their socks off.
He gave them their $5,000 — in fact, he gave them $250,000. He told the group he’d looked into their work and was impressed enough to give them even more money than they’d asked him for.
9. Opposition to Pennsylvania‘s Cruel Pigeon Shoots
When animal activist group Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) showed him a video of a notorious live pigeon shoot at a hunting club in Pennsylvania, Barker was sickened.
He personally wrote letters to the state Attorney General and 2012′s candidates for that office, asking them to enforce the state’s humane laws and stop these events. Pennsylvania is one of only a few states to still permit live pigeon shoots. The doomed birds, sadly, are typically former homing pigeons, racing pigeons or raised by farmers.
They don’t simply die by gunfire. Often they perish slowly from wounds. Worse, pigeon shoot participants are known to stomp, kick and swing them around by their necks, smashing them against things to finish them off.
“It is very distressing to me personally to see such appalling cruelty,” Barker wrote in his letter. “This is not a hunt or sport, but a massacre of the cruelest kind. SHARK’s most recent video filmed at the Wing Pointe hunting club documents unspeakable acts of violence against docile, semi-tame and even banded pigeons.”
10. Endowments For Animal Law Studies at Multiple Major Law Schools
Barker set in motion a number of endowments in 2001 when he gave $1 million to his alma mater, Drury University, to create an animal ethics program of study. He followed that with another $1 million to establish a professorship on animal rights.
Since then, he’s donated a remarkable $1 million each to every one of these schools:
- University of Virginia Law School
- Columbia Law School
- Duke Law School
- Georgetown Law School
- Harvard Law School
- Northwestern Law School
- Stanford Law School
- UCLA Law School
These endowments mandate that the schools offer an animal law course at least every other year. They must also hold an animal law conference or other similar event in the year the course is not offered. Finally, any income from the endowment must be used only for teaching and research of animal law issues.
Truly, Bob Barker is a one-of-a-kind hero to the animals. His money and his compassion are making a difference every day for animals all over the world.
Photo credit (main image): PETA