Animal kingdom 

Louisa McCune-Elmore
Credit: Mark Hancock

Oklahoma City’s Kirkpatrick Foundation is kicking off an ambitious initiative — to make Oklahoma the safest place to be an animal by 2032 — tonight by hosting worldrenowned philosopher and animal ethicist Bernard Rollin to lecture at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.

His lecture will conclude a day of discussion among Kirkpatrick Foundation trustees and leaders from across the spectrum of animal industries and welfare groups, who will begin defining their involvement in the foundation’s vision.

That vision is the brainchild of the foundation’s chairman, Christian Keesee, and inspired by his mother, the late Joan Kirkpatrick, who dedicated a portion of her estate to animal concerns upon her death in 2009. Keesee said he believes that by working with representatives from all sides of animal issues, Oklahoma can become a model for animal welfare. Caring for our most vulnerable creatures, said Keesee, “is what most civilized societies do.”

The list of attendees at the event’s luncheon underscores the foundation’s commitment to a diversified discussion, drawing together members of the Oklahoma Pork Council, the Department of Agriculture, Oklahoma State University’s veterinary school, the Oklahoma City Zoo and the Oklahoma Humane Society.

Christian Keesee

The foundation’s executive director, Louisa McCune-Elmore, echoes Keesee’s emphasis on a multilateral approach favoring acceptance and conciliation. “Everyone has a voice at the table, even though they won’t agree on everything,” she said. “We want to be the diplomat, highlighting areas where there is agreement.”

Those areas likely will be as broad as the interests represented at the roundtable. Contenders for the initiative range from the drugging of racehorses to pig slaughter, to weaving animal ethics into the public school curriculum.

“The goal is to inch standards up year after year,” said McCune-Elmore.

Rollin’s lecture, which is open to the public, is preceded by a reception at 6:30 p.m. and followed by a discussion and book-signing. To attend, RSVP at the kirkpatrickfoundation. org or 608-0934. Seating is limited.

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