President – Dr Richard Ryder

Dr Richard Ryder was the President of the RSPCA, where he previously served as an elected Trustee and as Chairman.  After reading Experimental Psychology (the Science of Animal Behaviour) at Cambridge University (Pembroke College), and later receiving its PhD in Political and Social Sciences, he worked for years in Oxford as a Clinical Psychologist and then as a political lobbyist at Westminster for IFAW. He has published a dozen books, including Victims of Science (1975), which was debated in Parliament as “the best-informed

reference book ever published on the subject” (New Statesman), Animal Rights — A Symposium (1979), Animal Revolution (1989), Speciesism, Painism and Happiness (2011) and Inside Their Heads (2015) (psychobiography). 

He coined the terms Speciesism (1970) and Painism (1990), served as the Mellon Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Tulane University teaching Animal Protection and secured large RSPCA funding for the rapid development of Animal Welfare Science internationally, the part funding of the Park Lane memorial, and for purchasing the first Sea Shepherd boat.  He brought Lord Houghton, Lady Dowding and several others onto the RSPCA Council.  He was awarded the Richard Martin Award in 2003, the Peter Singer Prize in Berlin in 2021 and the RSPCA’s highest award, the Queen Victoria Gold Medal in 2023.

Richard has helped to modernise the RSPCA.  In his fifty years of unpaid work with the Society, he initiated the Inspectors’ plainclothes Special Operations Unit, the Society’s four Science Departments, its Wildlife establishments, the Trustees’ Finance Committee, the reduced size of the Board and the Society’s first written Animal Welfare policies. 

He was Chairman of the RSPCA’s influential Campaigns Committees for many years.  In 1979 he led the first RSPCA deputation to meet a Government Minister for about one hundred years, and headed the first ever RSPCA Street Protest. (This was against Live Exports at Dover.)

In 1980 Richard created Eurogroup for Animals in Brussels and for some twenty years ensured its ongoing funding.  (This body brings together the main animal welfare bodies in the EU and continues to be the EU’s principal reforming body for Animal Welfare.)

He also investigated malpractices, established regular contact with Government Ministers, officials and the media, maintained the RSPCA’s international work, strengthened its philosophical foundations, tried to revive the Society’s original campaigning role, installed Ethical (Nolan) standards, kept out infiltrators, formed alliances with other animal protection bodies and has seen the Society’s income increase over a hundredfold.

Along with Ruth Plant he created the new idea of Dog (or Pet) Wardens in the 1970s and proposed their roles at Spode Conferences and in Commons Committee Rooms.  Hundreds were eventually appointed by local authorities.

Between 1970 and 2010 Richard was involved in some fifty-six animal welfare legislative reforms in the EU and UK (David Bowles, RSPCA, 2016).  He also led his own campaigns against cruel animal experiments, and succeeded, with friends, in stopping otter hunting and hare coursing in 1978.  He organised meetings with the Director General of the World Trade Organisation, with the leaders of all the British political parties and with members of the EU Commission.  He helped to initiate the big successful campaigns e.g. to control vivisection, stop seal imports, outlaw veal crates, stop cosmetics testing on animals and to ban the hunting of animals with hounds (2004).  He toured through Scandinavia, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Australia, Canada and the USA, appearing on TV and radio shows including the Open University, and set up and participated in the first ever Animal Rights Conference (at Trinity, Cambridge), and in the world’s first TV debate on Animal Rights in 1969.  He also initiated and edited RSPCA Conferences including Animal Welfare and the Environment in Oxford in 1992.  He worked briefly with Peter Singer in Oxford and Canberra and lobbied in Brussels, Strasbourg and Washington.  He also worked with IFAW, bringing its scientific evidence before the Canadian Royal Commission on Seals and Sealing.

Richard Ryder also co-founded the Liberal Democrat Animal Welfare Group, of which he was made President.  In this capacity he passed into Party Policy many of the Group’s own policies.  He was also President of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection.  With Douglas Lord Houghton PC CH, he set up four committees of which CRAE and GECCAP were the most effective, producing the new Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act in 1986, and the relevant EU Directive.  With Houghton he “Put Animals into Politics” e.g. into the Election Manifestos of the British political Parties for the first time.  Houghton and Ryder also set up the first FAWCE Committee to help farm animals.  Later, he became President of Barbara Gardner’s successful Animals Interfaith Alliance (AIA).  He is also an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, a Fellow of the Zoological Society and an Advisor to the Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law.

As Director of the Political Animal Lobby (PAL), he commissioned much scientific research into hunting with hounds and provided the results to Downing Street during the passage of the Hunting Bill.

In the 2020s, while President of the RSPCA, he helped to establish a new attempt to set up an Animal Protection Convention at the United Nations. 

For decades he proposed a national Animal Protection Commission.  Prime Minister Callaghan supported the idea but lost the General Election.  The idea resurfaced under the Johnson Government.

As a member of the Oxford Group (see Robert Garner and Yewande Okuleye: The Oxford Group and the Emergence of Animal Rights : An Intellectual History, Oxford University Press, 2021), he assisted in establishing the ethical seriousness of the Animal Rights position and helped, from Oxford, to disseminate this moral position around the world.  (Most of Ryder’s animal work has been unpaid.)


(This CV applies chiefly to work that is relevant to the RSPCA)


Principal Published Works:-

Victims of Science: The Use of Animals in Research, Davis-Poynter, 1975; revised edition, Centaur, 1980

Animal Rights – A Symposium (Editor), Centaur, 1979

Animal Revolution: Changing Attitudes Towards Speciesism, Basil Blackwell, 1989; revised edition, Berg, 2000

Animal Welfare and the Environment (Editor), Duckworth, 1992

Speciesism in Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare, Ed. Marc Bekoff, Greenwood, 1997

Speciesism in Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, Ed. Ruth Chadwick, 2nd Edition, Academic Press, 2012

Painism in Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, Ed. Ruth Chadwick, 2nd Edition, Academic Press Inc., 2012

The Political Animal: The Conquest of Speciesism, McFarland, 1998

Painism: A Modern Morality, Centaur Press, 2001

The Calcrafts of Rempstone Hall: The Intriguing History of a Dorset Dynasty, Halsgrove, 2005

Putting Morality Back into Politics, Imprint Academic, 2006

Nelson, Hitler and Diana: Studies in Trauma and Celebrity, Imprint Academic, 2009

Speciesism, Painism and Happiness: A Morality for the Twenty-First Century (foreword by Peter Singer), Imprint Academic, 2011

The Black Pimpernel (novel) Animal Books & Media Ltd., 2012

Inside Their Head: Psychological Profiles of Famous People, Ryelands, 2015


See also Robert Garner and Yewande Okuleye: The Oxford Group and the Emergence of Animal Rights: An Intellectual History, OUP, 2021

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