Sam Simon: A True Hero for Animals

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Posted March 9, 2015 by Kim Johnson

The animals have lost a true ally and a sharp and honest tongue with the passing of PETA Honorary Director and entertainment giant Sam Simon, who was our dear friend, a stalwart champion of animal rights, and the multiple Emmy Award–winning co-creator of The Simpsons and one of the writing geniuses behind hit shows likeTaxi, Barney Miller, Cheers, The Tracey Ullman Show, The Drew Carey Show, and the FX series Anger Management.

Simon said that the last two years of his life, in which he worked with PETA to close bear pits, rescue an abused elephant in India, send lone roadside zoo chimpanzees to a sanctuary, and find homes for hundreds of chinchillas, a camel, and even a “gay” bull, were the happiest of his life. Late last week, he was given the news that Ringling Bros., the circus he protested in person, had decided, in light of changed public opinion, to take performing elephants off the road by 2018. He wanted to live to see SeaWorld closed but believed that the day the elephants were out of the circus meant that, too, would happen.


Before: Seventeen bears had been held captive in virtually barren concrete pits at Black Forest Bear Park. The bears had shown signs of severe stress, and had to beg tourists for pieces of bread and apples.

rescued bear

AFTER: With the help of Sam Simon, the bears were relocated to a spacious sanctuary, including two pregnant brown bears, who were able to give birth in comfortable dens and raise their cubs themselves, instead of having them taken away shortly after birth.

Simon—after whom PETA’s Norfolk, Virginia, headquarters, the Sam Simon Center, is named—had been a vegetarian since he was 19 and a vegan since joining PETA about 15 years ago. He set up a charity, The Sam Simon Foundation, to provide homeless people with vegan meals and to rescue dogs from shelters and train them to assist both the deaf and war veterans with physical and mental trauma.

sam simon building

He attacked animal homelessness at its roots by sponsoring spay and neuter surgeries in low-income areas of Los Angeles, helped PETA launch a mobile spay-and-neuter clinic in Norfolk, Virginia, and hosted numerous PETA fundraising parties at his home in L.A. He also hosted a weekly Internet radio show on in which he always made a point to address the animal rights issues of the moment.

benji gay bull

With help from Sam Simon, Benjy – an Irish bull previously slated for slaughter because of his reported sexual orientation – was saved and sent to a sanctuary where he will breathe fresh air, graze freely and never again face the threat of imminent slaughter.

Simon once attended a PETA news conference with Bob Barker  to call attention to the plight of animals on TV and movie sets. “[I]f you can’t afford the CGI [computer-generated imagery], either do a rewrite,” he said, “or do a cartoon show like I did.”

Simon began his close relationship with PETA when he donated his fee for an episode of The Drew Carey Show because the plot involved greyhound racing and he felt that he could not in good conscience keep the money.

After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, Simon asked PETA’s president to come to the hospital to see him and draw up a list, which she did, of ways in which he could help animals before he died. Sam’s list became a guide for his philanthropy in the final part of his life. He paid for transport and even purchased dozens of animals who had lived miserable lives in roadside zoos so that PETA could send them to sanctuaries.

“I just wanted to have some days where I get to see animals walk in grass for the first time. Through PETA, we rescue animals in roadside zoos and circuses. They are some of the most abused animals in the country.”

Sam Simon & Ingrid

Despite being gravely ill, he traveled to Newfoundland with PETA and Pamela Anderson with a check for $1 million that he offered to pay the Canadian Sealers Association as a bonus if the organization would help facilitate an end to Canada’s annual seal slaughter.

In addition to all the animals Simon saved during his lifetime, he left generous endowments in his will to ensure that his efforts for animals would continue after he was gone. Animals will have reason to be grateful to this smart, funny, passionate activist and philanthropist for years to come.

In dedicating the Sam Simon Center, Sam said:

“One day, people will realize that Sam Simon knew that what PETA says is right, ‘Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use in entertainment.’”

PETA president Ingrid Newkirk said, “The world could learn all about kindness from Sam’s example, just the things he said, and I hope everyone who hears about him will do something kind and generous in his honor, even give your dog an extra hour in the park or eat one meal that does not involve animal suffering.”

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  • Profile photo of scylfa

    633 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    You are ignorant.

    Though I will agree that over-fishing of hermit crabs and many ocean-dwelling animals is depleting their wild population, your points made in “7 Reasons Why You Should Never Buy A Hermit Crab” are all inept.

    1: Yes, most of the hermits sold at pet stores are caught in the wild. However, something called AquaCulturing (which means to breed an aquatic animal in captivity, because I’m guessing that you didn’t actually do your research like 75% of the members of People Eating Tasty Animals) is taking leaps and bounds to breed these little critters in captivity.

    2: They need to be kept in large numbers? Yes. However in the tank you show in the article, there is barely enough room for one hermit crab. Someone who had an IQ of at least 110 would have thought to do their research first, and would have either bought a larger area to house them in, or would have not bought any hermit crabs. (Your care-taking faults so far: 1)

    3: This is also true, but it is due to ignorant people like you who don’t do their research. What other things did you do wrong? Let’s list a couple:
    A. Small tank size (we already went over this)
    B. No/small water dish. I cant tell if the plastic circle in the ‘tank’ is a dish or part of the packaging to the gravel. Hermit crabs need a HIGH humidity (85% or higher), and they need a pool of fresh water, and a pool of saltwater to regulate the salinity (level of salt) within their shell. The pools need to be deep enough that they can submerge their cephalothorax in it.
    C. Like I said, they need humidity. The average building has a humidity level of 40%, far too low for hermit crabs. A humidifier or constant misting of the tank is required to supply this.
    D. Hermit crabs need a SAND BED (Not novelty rocks) to molt in. The layer needs to be 5 inches deep, and from what I can tell, that tank isn’t even 5 inches tall. Let’s say your novelty rock bed WAS 5 inches thick… the hermit crab would not be strong enough to burrow in it, and the rocks would break their exoskeleton.
    E. Unless you know how to properly mix salt water to a specific gravity of 1.024 (not using table salt or road salt) your hermit crab’s sand (or rock) bed wont be damp enough for them to burrow to molt.
    F. Based on what I know about hermit crabs sold in pet stores (which is a lot), the size of the larger shell shown there is far too large. You can’t expect a hermit crab to move from a tiny shell into that shell in an instant.
    G. The larger shell is a fake shell, with harmful paint and other chemicals on it. The mere presence of this in a hermit crabs habitat could kill them.

    Enough about you though, let’s digress to number 4.
    4: Well, it looks like you did your research after all! After you already killed an innocent animal. Good job.

    5: Once again, your research skills are impeccable! But insanely late! (Also your research skills were very poor, this was mere sarcasm)

    6: This was probably Herman’s problem. Guess you should have done your research, huh?

    7: Workers do NOT collect thousands of shells from the wild every year. They make fake shells from porcelain and other stony materials (Calcium Carbonate).

    The “How can you help hermit crabs?” section:
    You claim that hermit crabs “want” to live in the wild. Due to their lack of a brain (which I’m starting to see in you as well), they cannot “want” anything. All of their actions are based on instinct. The only thing telling them to do this is their Cerebral Ganglia.

    Now that I’m done with your article and many, many faults, let’s go over how I’m taking care of my hermit crabs:

    90 gallon tank
    5″ sand bed
    Full of salt water (which I mixed on my own, so they don’t need to regulate their salinity levels)
    A multitude of shells of every size
    Rocks to climb on
    Proper filtration
    30+ hermit crabs
    Meaty and vegetable food options
    Water has no chlorine
    They molt on a regular basis
    They have been alive for over 1 year in my tank alone
    And they live with fish, shrimp, snails, and coral.

    Telling people to “Never” buy hermit crabs isn’t a way to save them or undo your mistakes. The closest you can get to that is to tell people how to care for them, and do actual studies on them.

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