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Volunteer Spotlight: Sadina Zaccari

By Amanda Waxman

As we expand our work to secure rights for nonhuman animals around the country, volunteer support is more crucial than ever. This summer, volunteer Sadina Zaccari worked with NhRP Senior Staff Attorney Monica Miller on legal research. Sadina recently earned her J.D. from the University of Baltimore and is working toward a Master’s of Emergency & Disaster Management at Georgetown‚Äôs School of Continuing Studies.

We talked to Sadina about what brought her to NhRP, why she advocates for nonhuman rights, and what her future professional goals are.

NhRP volunteer Sadina Zaccari and her dog, Jupiter Andromeda Sadina and her rescued companion, Jupiter Andromeda

Why did you want to volunteer with the NhRP? 

I first came across NhRP when my Animal Law seminar opened with the case about Happy the elephant. My mom has apparently been an avid follower of NhRP’s work, and when I mentioned to her that I was fascinated with this organization and its work with unique uses of legal relief in the instance of nonhuman animals,¬† we had very lively conversation. This fueled my want to be involved. I ended up writing a very long, very impassioned paper on Happy and the rights that nonhumans deserve, and then I begged my way into the volunteer program, knowing I needed to be involved in some capacity.

Why do you think nonhuman rights are important? 

As a person who cohabitates with animals who are my family (two cats and a dog), I am a firm believer in the sentience of animals. We are seeing this seismic shift societally that is far more liberal in accepting that animals have capacities for emotion and knowledge that we may have thought possible, but that science is now proving. It is impossible to continue in our ways of animal farming, abuse, cruelty, entertainment use, and overall dismissal of this class of beings who are self-aware and have the potential to understand more. Happy opened a gateway for my belief that there is a need to address, and as CGI and holographic technology open the door to other ways of observation and learning, the need to keep nonhumans captive for our entertainment or education becomes taboo, and their rights become more important. Distinction rates and climate change, amongst other areas of tragedy, need us to help restore the globe, not continue to destroy it‚ÄĒand giving rights to nonhumans would be a large first step in a positive direction.¬†

What are your professional goals, and how if at all do you see the fight for nonhuman rights as part of them? 

I came to law school not to be a lawyer, but to lobby. While I want to lobby for underserved communities, my enduring advocacy for the rights of animals has always been in the background. When my law school offered an animal law seminar for the first time, I jumped at the chance to get in on the discussion of what is happening in this realm. While I don’t know if this has any large part to play in my future, it certainly is an opportunity to be more informed and renews my want to continue to be an active part of pushing the conversation of animal rights to the forefront, even just as a hobby.¬†

The fight for human rights is far from over, and climate change is an existential threat to all life on earth. How do you think it helps human beings and the planet to recognize and protect the rights of nonhuman animals? 

While it is a pipedream, restoring some of the ecological systems that were original to our planet would help bring back a bit of balance to the globe. Animals are constantly going extinct, and our planet falls more and more out of whack and grows ever more in danger of being consumed by consumerism. Recognizing and protecting the rights on nonhuman animals would be an opportunity to reinforce the ancient wisdom of co-habitation with the other beings on this earth who provide important functions that humans are ignorant to but are ultimately profoundly important to the health of our planet and can diminish the damage humans are doing.  

How and why did you come to care about nonhuman animals and nonhuman rights? Is there a moment or moments (an experience, a relationship, a news story, etc.) that stand out to you from your childhood, adolescence, or adulthood? 

Oh boy, this list is a long one. I grew up with a mom who was VERY into animal rights. We always had animals around, and words like “organic, vegetarian, vegan, cruelty-free” were etched into my belief system and my vocabulary since I could speak. There were other animal rights crusaders in my life as well, and my sister and I received whale adoptions, books about KoKo, and items that had contributions donated as gifts throughout our life. I’ve always felt kindred with animals, and their majestic ancestors, and am in constant awe of the more we learn about their intelligence and emotional capacity, and have been since I can remember.

Thank you, Sadina, for all of your amazing work! We’re grateful that you volunteered with us. Learn more about ways to support our work and join our volunteer program here.

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