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Amory's Story
Local author writes biography of animal rights hero

By Quentin Young
Colorado Hometown Newspapers/Lafayette News

Oct. 18, 2006

A photograph of a cat surrounded by pink flowers decorates the mailbox outside Julie Hoffman Marshall's Lafayette home.

Inside, the living room walls are hung with pictures and paintings of tigers, a wolf, a pair of cows and other creatures.

Live cats greet the visitor.

This is the home of an animal lover.

It's also the home of an author. Marshall recently published her first book, "Making Burros Fly," said to be the first biography of animal-rights pioneer Cleveland Amory.

Amory, a writer himself who was also known as a commentator on NBC's "Today Show," gained notoriety for provocative and fearless acts in defense of animals of all kinds. In a foreword to Marshall's book, Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States, wrote, "When the history of the humane movement in the twentieth century is chronicled, Cleveland will stand with its tallest figures."

The name of the book alludes to one of Amory's greatest successes.

In 1979, the National Park Service had proposed a plan to exterminate burros from the Grand Canyon, saying they were "exotic" animals competing for food with bighorn sheep and other native wildlife. The plan called for sharpshooters to destroy the entire burro population.

Amory and his Fund for Animals responded with an audacious rescue. He orchestrated a roundup and airlift operation that saved 575 burros and gained national attention.

"He was changing people's hearts and minds when it came to the value of an animal's life," Hoffman wrote in her book.

In one of his most daring escapades, Amory participated in the ramming of the whaling ship Sierra, whose brutal crew for years had flouted whale-hunting laws.

Amory also is remembered for his role in a campaign to protect baby harp seals in Canada. Activists spray-painted the seals to render their pelts useless to hunters.

Marshall is a former associate editor of The Daily Camera, where she also wrote a pet column.

She traces her own love of animals back to an experience she had when she was 8 years old. She and her mother were driving in Denver when they came upon a cat curled up in the road. The cat became her pet.

She had read Amory's "The Cat Who Came for Christmas" but was not familiar with the man's life story until she read his obituary in 1998.

"As a journalist, I saw the drama, the color," she said. "A light bulb went off and told me, 'This is a book.'"

She is already planning her second book. It will be about dogs. That's all she'll say about it at the moment.

For those who wish to hear Marshall open up about "Making Burros Fly," she will appear 5:30-7:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 19, at Muttropolis, in the new Twenty Ninth Street in Boulder.

For more information, visit www.makingburrosfly.com.

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