Animal Protection Work

Mike Winikoff has been deeply involved in animal protection since 1989, when he became an investigator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). But his activism for animals actually began in 1974, when he became a vegetarian, through his days at Union College, where he helped develop a meat-free food plan alternative in the college cafeteria.

After doing several investigations for PETA, Mike conducted undercover investigations for other organizations including The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and The Ark Trust. Mike was the first animal rights activist in the U.S. to film a canned hunt in progress, and his Corsican Ram bow-hunt video was featured in hundreds of media around the world. Mike’s canned hunt investigation and the articles he wrote about it led to the introduction in the U.S. Congress of the Captive Exotic Animal Protection Act, which he drafted.

Mike was also instrumental in getting several elephants transferred from abusive situations to sanctuaries. His work on behalf of the elephant Lota appeared in media throughout the U.S., and video he obtained during that investigation was included in an episode of The X Files television show.

After leaving the world of investigations, Mike was Executive Director of an animal shelter and owner of a vegan restaurant. For five years Mike was Head Writer of The Genesis Awards on Animal Planet, produced by The Ark Trust, for which Mike was also Director of Programs.

Mike directed communications and media relations for both an animal shelter and an international animal rights organization, where he also served as Senior Writer/Editor.

Mike’s work has generated stories in more than 100 media outlets including Dateline NBC, CBS News, NBC News, and CNN.