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Book Remembers Cleveland Amory

By Columnist Alicyn Leigh
Long Island Press
10/05/2006 4:50 pm

Noted author Cleveland Amory did not just put his feelings about animal welfare down in words; he was also one of the first dedicated advocates to voice his opinions about pro-animal rights and was active in animal rescue.

Some of the books that he is remembered for are The Cat Who Came for Christmas, The Cat and the Curmudgeon and The Best Cat Ever, all written with a special sense of love for his furry friends—especially Polar Bear, whom he rescued from a New York alley one snowy Christmas Eve.

Amory died in 1998 at the age of 81, but his legacy to fight for animal welfare continues on.

"Amory served on the board of directors of The Humane Society of the United States from 1962 to 1970," says Michael Markarian, executive vice president of The HSUS. "He was one of the early leaders of the organization and used his celebrity status to create visibility for issues such as animal research, sport hunting and fur. During that time, he also founded The Fund for Animals in 1967, so that he could focus more on wildlife issues and direct animal care."

Amory's exciting life has now been documented in the book Making Burros Fly, written by Julie Marshall.

"Although I had read The Cat Who Came for Christmas years ago, I did not know the extent of Cleveland's incredible lifetime of crusades until I read his obituary in The New York Times," says Marshall. "It's still very difficult to speak out for animals in today's society. A dominant culture still ridicules or wrongly fears those of us who believe that animals deserve respect and are thinking, feeling creatures."

Early in life, Amory became the youngest editor of the Saturday Evening Post, chief critic of TV Guide, and resident commentator of NBC's Today Show, among many other jobs.

"With his background and status, he could have been content to be famous, but instead he dived into the deep end of one of the most controversial issues of our time—animal cruelty," says Marshall. "He wanted to help the supposed 'lowly' animals, the ones no one seemed to care about."

One of the key points mentioned in the book provided it with a title. In 1979, Amory successfully fought the Park Service and its plan to exterminate the burros of the Grand Canyon. He hired help to humanely round up the woolly burros, and flew them out of the canyon in a net sling dangling by a 50-foot cable attached to a helicopter. Nearly 600 burros were saved, and most ended up at his legendary Black Beauty Ranch in East Texas.

Many know Amory as the father of the modern animal rights movement. Making Burros Fly focuses on his history and also tells about the evolution of The Fund for Animals, and its many successes and struggles to combat animal cruelty.

Says Marshall: "Some [volunteers] who have been dismayed with how hard it can be to fight animal abuse told me they were reinvigorated by this book, and have recommitted to the cause."

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