12/21/2011 04:40 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

2011 a Banner Year for Animals

On my desk, there's a cartoon of a swamp with the caption "Those who throw objects at the crocodile will be obliged to retrieve them," so I'm no Buddhist. But at this time of year, amid the hurly-burly of last-minute present-buying and travel, I do tend to calm down and think like one. I tend to remember that things occur because there is a cause for them: A footprint needs a foot, and so on. And I tend to dwell on what I'm thankful for. This year, like most, it is for every minute and every cent and every word that people uttered in behalf of the foxes killed for their fur, the dogs left out in the first winter storm or abandoned during the tsunami and earthquake in Japan, the elephants caught on videotape being beaten at the circus, and the smallest rats and mice who are harmed needlessly in cosmetics tests. Animals needed help, and people responded.

Because of that help, PETA made 2011 a banner year for animals. Ringling was slapped with the largest fine in circus history for violations of the Animal Welfare Act that included letting a lion die in the heat of the Mohave Desert rather than stopping to give him water or using a cooling system. The Environmental Protection Agency adopted modern replacements for animal tests, saving more than 3 million animals. And four laboratory workers were charged with felony cruelty to animals as a result of one of our investigations.

We persuaded many businesses to get rid of glue traps, stop selling foie gras, quit using great apes in advertising, and drop their sponsorship of the Iditarod.

This year, we saw bullhooks banned, pound seizure halted, fur banned, and roadside zoos shut down. And we brought numerous animal abusers to justice.

And that's just a small glimpse into the good things that happened this year. There are far too many victories, large and small, to list them all, but let me share some of them in this video recap. As my colleague Chris says, "Break out your giant foam finger and get ready to celebrate":

Thank you for all and anything that you did for animals in 2011. I welcome your participation next year and your last-minute shopping and membership at Happy holidays to one and all. Or, to quote a Buddhist "May all beings be happy; May they all be free from ill will; may they be free from enmity; may they be well and happy all the time, and may we all reach Nirvana!"