Tag Archives: Bob Barker

Bob Barker, Still Busy at 91, Sees Progress in Animal Rights Efforts

Bob_barkerBob Barker made history as America’s longest-running television host, with his 35 years on “The Price is Right,” 18 on “Truth or Consequences” and more. But the 91-year-old’s most impactful legacy just might turn out to be his work in animal rights. Having set up endowments for the study of animal law at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Northwestern University, Georgetown, Columbia, Duke and the University of Virginia several years ago, he’s getting word that other colleges are emulating their focus.

“There are universities I haven’t helped at all that are establishing their own courses on animal law,” he says with some surprise.

He’s also heard back from students involved in this field of study — gratifying notice of young people dedicating themselves to the protection of animals. The classes “are very popular, apparently,” notes Barker, who was named an Honorary Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics in 2010. “They are accomplishing precisely what I set out to accomplish. They are getting excellent students and they’re going on to things I had hoped they would.”

In a time when news reports are full of alarming information about the straits of our natural world and the animals therein, he finds there are encouraging signs — starting with increased public awareness of heretofore little-seen problems. “The animal rights movement is like a snowball,” he declares. “It’s rolling and getting bigger and bigger and there’s no stopping it now. Things are really happening. I’m so optimistic.”

His activism has taken him from lobbying against cruel rodeo practices in Canada to circus rescues in Peru. The latter, current efforts with Animal Defenders International, he terms “the biggest and most complex animal rescue ever attempted. It’s going so well the Peruvian government has requested that ADI help rescue monkeys and other animals in Peru from the illegal wildlife trade — which is something we’re all concerned with, those of us in the animal rights movement.”

One can’t help noticing Barker’s sharpness and energy during an afternoon’s chat. It’s remarkable for a man his age. The WWII naval aviator’s piquant humor was recently on display when he was seen joking in a TV interview that people talk a lot about the atomic bomb ending the war, but it was really him and his Corsair.

Perhaps not surprisingly, he attributes his healthful zest to his vegetarianism.

“I’ve been vegetarian about 30-35 years. My wife became a vegetarian and I decided I would, too,” he says, referring to his beloved Dorothy Jo, who passed away in 1981 after 36 years of marriage. “I became a vegetarian and I’ve never been sorry about it. I did ‘Price is Right’ until I was 83 years old, and ‘Price’ is an hour show and not sitting at a desk; there’s a lot of moving around and physical activity in it. I don’t think I could ever have done it if I hadn’t become a vegetarian.”

He goes on, “I became a vegetarian out of concern for animals, but I soon realized that the people who preached the healthful qualities of being a vegetarian are right and it’s been good for me.”

Also, “I work out every day. I lift some light weights and I do a lot of stretching and I get on the elliptical machine, and that’s good for my heart. I’m very conscientious. I think that as you get old — at any age your diet and exercise are important, but as you get older you MUST exercise and you MUST eat a healthy diet or you’re going to be shuffling around.”

Barker is certainly a shining example of the benefits of such a lifestyle.

He laughs. “I’ve never been described as a shining example of anything before, but I like it!”

Although he pops up on TV from time to time — as in his April 1 “Price is Right” appearance as “Drew Carey” and his recent turns on “The Bold and The Beautiful” — Barker makes it clear he’s having “a very successful retirement” and isn’t interested in any more regular gigs.

He’d rather make his calls and do his talks about animal welfare. Occasionally, animals call on Barker. One of the organizations he helps is the Lockwood Animal Rescue Center that does work on behalf of wolves. “They have a wonderful wolf out there called Wiley, and Wiley and I just struck it off,” says Barker. “He seems to like me and I love Wiley. I have a big picture of Wiley, and I told my new housekeeper, ‘He’s going to come visit.’ She said, ‘A WOLF?!'”

He laughs. “This gentleman from the rescue center brought Wiley to the house. I sat on the patio and talked to him, then Wiley went to her and she thought it was wonderful. He ran all over the house and she loved it. Wiley is a good friend, I’ll tell you. He’s just so big and friendly.”

Considering all the characters with whom Barker contended on “The Price is Right” all those years, it’s no wonder he can handle a wolf.

Bob Barker, 88, Battles on for His Beloved Animals

Why are so many people in Canada angry at Bob Barker?  The erstwhile “Price is Right” host hung up his game show microphone five years ago — and turned, not to a life of leisure, but a life of activism.  Most recently, that’s taken the 88-year-old warrior north of the border to battle on behalf of elephants at the Toronto Zoo, and to castigate the Calgary Stampede on local radio and TV shows and in print.

“You know, every national animal protection organization is opposed to rodeos of any type.  And the Calgary Stampede is just about the most despised rodeo of them all,” he informs. “That and Cheyenne rodeo.”

Why?

“Because of the treatment of the animals and the deaths they’ve caused,” Barker claims.  “The Calgary Stampede has just celebrated its 100th anniversary, and during that 100 years, they have killed I don’t know how many animals total….They do terrible things to the horses.  They use bucking straps for the bucking broncs.  It’s a strap that is cinched around the groin area, and you can only imagine how painful that is.  They use what is called ‘hot shots,’ electric shock devices.  They’re already illegal in many countries, but they use them.”

As far as the zoo elephants, Barker is among those who maintain that the animals are in declining health and need to be moved to a reserve — and Toronto officials have agreed, he says, but zoo administrators have been blocking the move.

Barker’s agenda of late has also included narrating presentations for his fellow animal protectionists at Mercy for Animals, an organization dedicated to stopping factory farming.  He’s helped lobby against use of the hated so-called “gestation crates” for pigs that don’t allow the animals to lie down or turn.  In fact, he says that K-Mart and Costco both recently quit buying pork from a major Minnesota producer that utilized those crates, because of Mercy for Animals bringing the practice to their attention.

Barker’s activities are too numerous to list here, but they also include recently funding a habitat for lab chimps that had been used in HIV/AIDS tests — and his setting up of endowments for the study of animal law at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Northwestern, Georgetown, Columbia, Duke and the University of Virginia, in addition to being named an Honorary Fellow at the Oxford University Centre for Animal Ethics.

“I put my time, my energy and my money into it,” says the daytime icon who put in 50 years on the air.  “I can’t think of anything I could do that would be more important or helpful, or bring greater satisfaction to me.”

Barker works alongside long-time activist Nancy Burnet, who is the executive director of his foundation.  When he’s not involved in work on behalf of animals, he’s often engaged in activities within his other philanthropic passion — aid for wounded veterans.

 

At 87, Busy Bob Barker Becomes Oxford Centre Honorary Fellow

Bob Barker

Bob Barker may have retired in 2007 after a 50-year stint on TV — including 35 years on “The Price is Right” — but the 87-year-old personality says he’s been so busy, “I joke that I need to go back into television to get some rest.”  In fact, Barker’s tireless activities on behalf of animal rights have now earned him the designation of  Honorary Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.

“It’s an absolutely breathtaking experience,” he says.  “I received an announcement from Dr. Andrew Linzey, the founder and director.  Among people involved in animal rights, he is a most respected man.  He has written 15-20 books that have been very helpful in the effort to help animals, and he is also a theology professor at Oxford,” Barker reports.

He has been informed that there have only been six other honorary fellows named by the Centre and they include Nobel laureates, philanthropists and academicians.  “I was the first one in the entertainment field.

“When I read the complimentary things that DR. Linzey had said about my accomplishments on behalf of animals, I was actually on the verge of tears,” Barker adds.  Linzey, the sometimes-controversial Anglican priest, theologian, and animal activist, cited Barker’s key role in propelling animal rights from being a marginal issue into the academic mainstream, which he deemed “a colossal achievement.”

While Barker’s fans are certainly aware of his devotion to animal causes, the extent of his commitment may come as a surprise.  Barker has set up endowments for the study of animal law at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Northwestern, Georgetown, Columbia, Duke, and the University of Virginia — in addition to establishing the Dorothy Jo Barker Chair for the Study of Animal Rights, named for his late wife, at Drury University in Springfield, MO, their alma mater.  With his new Oxford ties, it’s a strong possibility that he’ll be adding the ancient British institution to his list of endowment recipients.

As for when he’ll — ahem — come on down to visit Dr. Linzey and his colleages in the U.K., Barker says he has no current plans to cross the pond, but would like to make the trip at some point.

With 15 Emmys as a host, 14 as a producer and induction into the TV Hall of Fame already to his credit, how does the Oxford Centre honor rank?

“It’s right with them, among the top of the list,” he says.

MEANWHILE:  Barker tells us he still tunes in to “The Price is Right” on occasion.  “I certainly did turn it on when I learned that Drew Carey had lost 90 pounds.  He was slim and wearing a very sharp suit and bow tie and looked great.”