Meet Brigitte Bardot: French Actress Turned Animal Rights Activist

Born in 1934, Brigitte Bardot is a famous singer, actress, dancer, and model who starred in French 50s and 60s films. Films she’s starred in include And God Created Woman and Contempt. She retired from acting in the 1970s and instead devoted her time to animal activism. Bardot is known for famously saying, “I gave my beauty and youth to men, I am going to give my wisdom and experience to animals.”

In 1987, Bardot auctioned off her own jewelry and personal belongings so she could start her own animal rights organization. Today, that organization is known as the Fondation Brigitte Bardot, France’s leading animal protection NGO. Fondation Brigitte Bardot has its own sanctuary in Normandy and continually lends support to other animal rights organizations.

In 2012, Brigitte Bardot sent a personal letter to France’s Philippines ambassador expressing her concerns for Mali, an ailing, solitary elephant confined to a small enclosure at a Philippine zoo. In her letter, Bardot requested that the sick elephant, Mali, be transferred to a sanctuary in Thailand where she can roam freely with other elephants. Her request was backed by Jane Goodall and famed veterinarian Dr. Mel Richardson. As a result, an online petition for Mali’s release went viral. The petition garnered more than 40,000 signatures. Unfortunately, Mali is yet to be freed from her tiny, concrete enclosure.

More recently, in 2013, the iconic star called for an end to grocery store Fortnum & Mason’s foie gras sales. Foie gras is a popular food dish consisting of the enlarged liver of a goose or duck. But in order to enlarge the liver, the ducks and geese must be force fed. A metal rod is jammed down their necks several times a day, and the over-stuffing of the liver results in increased pressure on the lungs. The practice is widely detested by veterinarians and animal activists alike and the sale of foie gras has already been banned in several countries. PETA renamed Fortnum & Mason’s, “Force-Fed and Murdered.” But thanks to the awareness that Bardot has brought to foie gras sales, thousands of people have elected to boycott Fortnum & Mason’s.