Famed animal activist will visit Brock

Gene Baur

"There's a burgeoning food movement right now," says Gene Baur, who will speak at Brock next week. "People are starting to get uncomfortable about where their food comes from."

A well-known activist who runs a sanctuary for farm animals in upstate New York will visit Brock next week.

Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, will speak on Tuesday, Aug. 9 from 7 to 10 p.m. in Academic South 202. Baur will talk about the 25-year history of his farm animal rescue operation.

It is one of four presentations Baur is giving from Buffalo to Toronto next week. The presentation will include stories like that of Hilda the sheep, whose rescue eventually led to farms in California and Watkins Glen, NY, Baur said.

Baur met Hilda on a muggy August day in 1986. A Los Angeles native, he was visiting stockyards with Farm Sanctuary co-founder Lorri Houston to understand how they worked. Wading through animal carcasses amidst buzzing maggots and unimaginable stench, they found a pile of dead animals. It was the carcasses of animals that hadn’t survived a humid long-distance haul.

“All the sudden, a sheep on top of the pile lifted its head as we approached,” he said. “It was startling.”

Baur took the sheep to the vet, thinking it would have to be euthanized. But the sheep recovered and lived for another 10 years.

Hilda needed a place to live, and that was the genesis of Farm Sanctuary, which now houses about 1,000 animals. The group does advocacy, education and rescue. In 2008, Baur published the bestseller Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food.

The talk will be tailored to vegetarians and meat eaters alike, he said.

“Even if there are people who have different opinions and want to question mine, I welcome that.”

Baur’s ultimate goal is to get people to think about their food choices and understand the consequences. More and more, people are scrutinizing where their food comes from, he said.

“I want people’s food choices to be aligned with their values.”

Graduate students from Brock’s Critical Sociology program visited Farm Sanctuary last year, said John Sorenson, a professor of Sociology and Critical Animal Studies.

“Everyone was energized by the experience,” he said. “It helped us to remember that animals are individuals and not just commodities.”

A Night with Gene Baur is sponsored by Brock’s Critical Sociology department, the student-led Brock Animal Rights Club, Walk for Farm Animals and Niagara Action for Animals.

The talk is free and open to the public.

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