A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

A Letter to My Friends

Dear Friends,

It’s almost two years since I stepped down as President of Best Friends Animal Society.

During the 1990s, Best Friends became the flagship of the new grassroots no-kill movement that sought to bring an end to the killing of millions of homeless dogs and cats in shelters every year.

Back at the start, in the early 90s, more than 15 million homeless pets were being killed every year. By the end of the 90s, that number had dropped below 5 million. It was an amazing accomplishment — a pioneering work on the part of thousands of people in cities and neighborhoods all over the country.

Today, much of the pioneering is over. Almost all of the humane societies, national and local, have embraced the no-kill philosophy, so it’s now more a matter of time and continued hard work to bring that number to zero.

At the same time, however, a much greater and more urgent challenge is now beckoning. Millions — make that billions — of other animals are losing their homes all over the world. Scientists are calling it the Sixth Great Extinction. (The fifth one was when the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago.)

Every day, hundreds of species are going extinct — from big, baby-face lemurs, to colorful frogs, to the polar bears, to the tuna fish, to the elephants, lions and hippos of Africa, to the coral reefs, to countless animals that we haven’t ever even set eyes on.

The latest horror story — what’s happening in the Gulf — is simply one very visible part of the crisis. But the destruction is ongoing and worldwide.

Experts tell us that the way we relate to this over the next 10 years will determine the future of life on earth for the 10,000 years — maybe even the next 10 million.

The crisis in the Gulf is emblematic of the gulf in our whole relationship to the animals and nature. We’ve become disconnected, in our own minds, from our place in the natural world. Our future — and the future of all the other animals we’re affecting — depends on what we do over these next few years.

That’s why a small group of us are beginning a new organization called Zoe. Zoe is the Greek word for life, and we’ll be starting a new website toward the end of July. I’ll let you know when it’s up and ready.

Zoe will be a bit like Best Friends was in its early days: bringing together grassroots people of all kinds who care about the animals. No one organization can do what needs to be done. And no government will dare to take it on. So it’s up to the rest of us.

But it’s easy to be overwhelmed and confused by the flood of bad news that’s coming at us from all directions. So on the Zoe website we’ll be bringing you the news we think you need to know, as well as good stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, blogs and insights from people from all walks of life … and, of course, a good sprinkling of the kind of light, humorous, edgy, and off-the-wall stuff about animals of all kinds that I always used to enjoy slipping into Best Friends magazine in its early days.

I hope you’ll join us as part of Zoe. Our mission is to bring together a grassroots community of people from all over the world who want to play their part in tipping the balance of what transpires in these next 10 years.

Nothing could be more important!

Stay well, and good wishes,

Michael Mountain
Zoe — It’s our nature.