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Learn more about links between the rights, health, and wellbeing of people, animals, and the planet.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Phoenix Zones?

Phoenix Zones are places that recognize and advance the rights of people and animals, allowing individuals, communities, and society to live well, rise, and thrive.

Phoenix Zones foster what’s known in medical circles as the Phoenix Effect: conditions that allow individuals to ascend from the proverbial ashes.

Through respect for liberty and sovereignty; compassion, tolerance, and justice; and a belief that each individual possesses dignity, the Phoenix Effect and Phoenix Zones are also metaphors for how we can rise up.

The term Phoenix Zones is taken from Phoenix Zones Initiative’s Dr. Hope Ferdowsian’s book of the same name.


What are human rights and animal rights?

When we at Phoenix Zones Initiative talk about rights, we’re referring to life-sustaining needs that are essential to health and wellbeing.

Basic needs include the right to be free and to choose what happens to our bodies and lives; safety and protection from violence and exploitation; and the right to be valued for our intrinsic worth and potential.

Sometimes these rights are referred to as natural or inalienable rights.

Currently, many of these rights are recognized in international human rights frameworks, but there is still much more work to do to ensure that every human being has access to these inalienable rights.

Children are at particular risk. And there is even more work to do to ensure that animals receive the protections they need.

History has shown that we cannot adequately address one problem without also addressing the other.


What are the connections between human and animal rights, health, and wellbeing?

There are strong, evidence-based links between human and animal rights, health, and wellbeing.

For example, animal cruelty is a red flag for child abuse and intimate partner violence, and it can be an early warning sign of future violence.

Similarly, violent crime rates in communities are independently correlated with the locations of exploitative animal industries.

More and more, historians, scientists, and medical and public health professionals highlight links between the abusive treatment of animals and the adverse treatment of vulnerable and marginalized human beings.

Connections between the suffering of people and animals are sometimes fueled by unjust policies and practices that trickle down to individuals and communities in the form of suffering, illness, and death.

Norms, beliefs, legal and economic frameworks, and political priorities may harm individuals, communities, and societies by keeping them from meeting their basic needs.

Examples include industrial agricultural systems that harm children, animals, and vulnerable communities; research policies that hurt vulnerable patients and animals; and existing economic paradigms that discount the intrinsic value of many children, marginalized adults, and animals.


Why and how does Phoenix Zones Initiative work on the connections between people, animals, and the planet?

As disease patterns, the climate crisis, and countless patterns of exploitation have shown, the rights, health, and wellbeing of people and animals are connected in critical ways. Social and environmental injustices illustrate these connections in real time.

Fortunately, more organizations are focusing on connections between the health of people and animals.

Phoenix Zones Initiative centers our policy and programmatic work on justice for people and animals.

We believe that justice is a prerequisite for health.

In an increasingly interconnected world, we prioritize building bridges between individuals, organizations, and movements that have traditionally worked in silos.


Why does Phoenix Zones Initiative prioritize vulnerable populations, including children and animals?

Children and animals belong to two of the most vulnerable groups in the world.

A failure to adequately recognize their needs and rights in international frameworks, national and local policies, and everyday practice leads to abuse and exploitation.

Since the most vulnerable are usually the first and last to be exploited, they are where we place our focus.

If the most vulnerable thrive, the rest of us will too.

Links between child and animal protection have been prioritized in the US since the nineteenth century when Henry Bergh, the founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), used New York State animal protection legislation to successfully argue on behalf of an abused and neglected ten-year-old girl named Mary Ellen. 

Although there have been some advancements for children and fewer advancements for animals, both populations need and deserve greater protections.


Where does Phoenix Zones Initiative work?

We work with partners around the world.


Who can get involved?

Anyone who cares about advancing the rights, health, and wellbeing of people, animals, and the planet can join us.

If you are interested in being a partner or funder and would like to learn more about our initiatives, please contact us.


Read more about our work for children and animals, and our work to advance the links between the rights, health, and wellbeing of people, animals, and the planet.

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