photo of timber wolf
“The question is not, ‘Can they reason?’ nor, ‘Can they talk?’ but rather, ‘Can they suffer?’”  Jeremy Bentham

Ira Fischer’s Library of Books and Films About Animals

Animal advocacy begins with a thorough understanding and knowledge of the conditions under which animals live, as well as the economic, social and political circumstances that support those conditions, including the arguments made by the special interests that seek to keep the status quo. Below are selected books and films which can provide a solid foundation for increasing awareness about animals, animal ethics issues, the animal welfare movement and an appreciation for the sensitivity and beauty of these remarkable beings. While some of the material may be disturbing (parental discretion is advised) and others uplifting, they all contain a message that underscores the importance of kindness and compassion for animals.

The list below of Ira Fischer’s Library of Books and Films About Animals is not comprehensive. A more complete reading list on the subjects of the ethos of equal consideration for all sentient beings,  animal rights, animals in research, farm animals, vegetarianism and wildlife can be found in the appendix to Animal Liberation by Peter Singer.


Primarily for children and young adults:

  • Saving Emily by Nicholas Read
  • Gentle Ben by Walt Morey
  • The Cat Who Came for Christmas by Cleveland Amory
  • Animal Angels: Amazing Acts of Love and Compassion by Stephanie Laland
  • The Compassion of Animals: True Stories of Animal Courage and Kindness by Kristen Von Kreisler
  • Making Kind Choices by Ingrid Newkirk
  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate


Primarily for adults (young and old):

  • Animal Liberation by Peter Singer
  • The Case for Animal Rights by Tom Regan
  • Empty Cages by Tom Regan
  • Compassion: The Ultimate Ethic by V. Moran
  • Animal Factories by Jim Mason and Peter Singer
  • Animal Machines by Ruth Harrison
  • Diet for a New America by John Robbins
  • The Emotional Lives of Animals by Marc Bekoff
  • The Unheeded Cry: Animal Consciousness, Animal Pain and Science by Bernard Rollin
  • Victims of Science: The Use of Animals in Research by Richard Ryder
  • Beyond the Bars by Virginia McKenna, William Travers, Jonathan Wray
  • The Rose-Tinted Menagerie by William Johnson
  • The American Hunting Myth by Ron Baker
  • Jaws of Steel: The Truth About Trapping by Thomas Eveland
  • Redemption by Nathan Winograd
  • An Unnatural Order by Jim Mason


Films and Documentaries:

Primarily for children and young adults:

  • The Yearling
  • Lassie (original and sequels)
  • Black Beauty
  • Whispers: An Elephants Tale
  • The Golden Seal
  • Born Free (and its sequel: To Walk With Lions)
  • African Cats
  • Free Willy (original and sequels)
  • Eye of the Dolphin
  • Luna: Spirit of the Whale
  • The Bear
  • Spirit Bear: The Simon Jackson Story


Primarily for adults (young and old):

  • Dolphins Tale
  • Hachi: A Dog’s Tale
  • Dolphins Tale
  • Born to be Wild
  • Lions
  • The Last Lions
  • One Lucky Elephant
  • Tigers of the Snow
  • Wolves in Paradise
  • Kingdom of the Blue Whale
  • The Emotional World of Farm Animals
  • Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home
  • The Elephant in the Living Room
  • Gorillas in the Midst
  • The Cove
  • Food, Inc.
  • Earthlings
  • The Witness (Tribe of Heart documentary)
  • A Lion Called Christian
  • An Apology to Elephants
  • Blackfish
  • Lion’s Ark


Apart from the books and films mentioned above, another valuable resource that covers a wide range of issues concerning the ethical treatment of animals are the websites of organizations noted in Ira Fischer’s Guide to Charitable Giving for Animal Welfare Organizations, as well as those of other organizations whose mission is to further the cause of animal welfare.

Readers interested in learning about laws that relate to animals may wish to visit the websites of law schools that offer a program in animal law. The Animal Legal & Historical Center  of Michigan State University College of Law believes that its site is the largest legal website devoted to animal issues in the world. The Center for Animal Law Studies  is an animal law think tank and the home for the animal law programs and activities of Lewis & Clark Law School.

A Lion Called Christian is the true and touching story of two men who purchased a lion cub from a department store in London to protect her from being sold as a commodity. They raise Christian but when they realize that she is getting too big for their apartment they make the difficult decision to have her released back into the wild in Africa. One year after Christian was released,  they longed to see her and wondered if she would remember them. They were told that Christian would not remember them. Nevertheless, they traveled to the area where Christian was released to look for her. They find Christian together with the mate she found.

The video below of A Lion Called Christian is fittingly set against the song I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston. Send it to your friends with a message to help support these magnificent creatures, as well as all exotic cats, many of whom suffer a cruel existence in captivity in places like zoos and circuses, while others are preyed upon by hunters in the wild or threatened with extinction as a result of loss of their habitat.

Christian The Lion – I will always love you…