Delcianna Winders is PETA’s Vice President and Deputy General Counsel. Primarily, Winders engages in work involving animal law and administrative law in support of PETA’s ultimate goal: Giving animals legal standing to sue people. If successful, PETA believes this will help shut down zoos, aquariums, farms, and other institutions that use animals through a wave of lawsuits from PETA and allied groups.
Winders, who received her law degree from NYU in 2006, worked initially for the DC law firm Meyer, Glitzenstein, & Crystal (MGC), a firm tied to various environmental and animal-rights radicals. MGC represented several animal rights groups that sued the owner of the Ringling Bros. circus, claiming the company abused its elephants. The lawsuit was thrown out of court and Feld sued the animal activist plaintiffs and MGC, eventually obtaining about $25 million in settlement. Further, in 2013, a federal judge sanctioned MGC and its partner, Katherine Meyer, for its conduct in the suit. The key witness in that case had lied under oath in a response signed by Meyer.
Meyer also represented PETA when she claimed in court that elephants would be better off dead than in a zoo.
After two years at MGC, Winders joined Farm Sanctuary for a year (where she was a lobbyist pushing for plant-based milk alternatives to be provided as an option in schools) before heading over to PETA from 2010 until 2015. She then joined Harvard as an animal law fellow for several years, before rejoining PETA.
Her time in the legal field has left her with the Harvard name on her resume. Thereby, it’s likely PETA sees Winders as a means of adding a sense of “legitimacy” to its radical campaigns. But her and PETA’s position are far outside the mainstream of legal thought and public opinion.
A scroll through Winders’ Twitter feed provides some glimpses. For instance, she has liked posts supporting the idea that animals should be able to sue in courts, an idea well outside of the legal mainstream and with little support outside of vegan fringe groups.
Continuing this trend, Winders has lent her support to a number of posts drawing what are—at best—irresponsible comparisons, including one likening a rib festival to a widely condemned Chinese dog meat festival and another post likening Women’s March supporters to Allied soldiers liberating France from Nazi occupation in World War II.
She doesn’t restrict her bad analogies to the Twittersphere, once commenting to the New York Post that safari hunting efforts “to raise money for ‘conservation’ is like selling a child on the black market to raise money to fight child molestation.”
And in a campaign seemingly opposed to fun itself, Winders made the case that the Finding Dory movie “poses a threat to survival of fish” because kids may be inspired to start a home aquarium—an activity that can lead to greater understanding of animals and a fostering of the virtue of responsibility in young children.
Either due to a botched oversight job or some clumsy miscalculation, Winders was actually allowed to man a PETA display at a 2018 conference hosted by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the chief accrediting body for zoological institutions. For context on the absurdity of this situation, Winders has a history of railing on zoos as institutions providing animals with “a lifetime of misery” and described zoos as a “fundamental injustice.”
Left unanswered by Winders in her quest to radically change the legal system by giving “rights” to animals is this: If animals do have legal rights, would that include the right not to be killed by PETA? For the 40,000 or so animals that PETA has killed at the misclassified animal shelter at PETA’s Virginia headquarters, the question isn’t theoretical.