BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (CNS) — Animal rights activists will gather in Beverly Hills on Sunday for the 12th annual National Animal Rights Day, an event that honors the billions of animals killed by humans every year.

This year’s event, held in conjunction with NARD gatherings in 15 cities across the United States and more than 100 cities worldwide, will take place at noon at Beverly Gardens Park at 9439 Santa Monica Blvd.

NARD is part rally, part memorial service. As in past years, a small number of volunteers dressed in black will hold the bodies of dead animals as attendees observe moments of silence. Those animals — who died on their own and were donated by various farms that raise animals for human consumption — serve to represent all non-humans killed for food, clothing, medical experiments and other reasons, and will later be cremated or buried.

The solemn memorial will be followed by a more light-hearted celebration featuring speakers who will give testimonials about the life experiences that led them to stop eating and wearing animals.

The ceremony has moved among several locations in greater Los Angeles since 2011, but this will be the first time it’s being held in Beverly Hills.

“We will have our people, holding deceased farm animals and giving them a proper funeral service, right smack in the heart of affluent and conservative BH, so that should be quite historic,” Aylam Orian, the Los Angeles actor who founded NARD in 2011, told City News Service.

The year’s speakers include vegan diet-based author Kathy Freston, former Playboy Playmate and “Baywatch” star Donna D’Errico, Jeff Harris, co-owner of the San Diego-based restaurant chain Plant Power Fast Food and Laguna Beach state Assembly candidate Judy Mancuso.

Past NARD events in Los Angeles have also drawn vegan celebrities including musician Moby and actors Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara.

Orian — whose credits include “Stargate Origins,” and the CBS shows “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “Code Black” — credits a 2010 trip to Madrid with inspiring him to form the NARD movement. He saw the group Animal Equality conducting a small, silent demonstration with laptops showing the deaths of animals at factory farms to passersby, and a light went off.

He started doing small video demos of his own in New York City, but he felt they weren’t affecting enough people. Then in December 2010 he saw Animal Equality’s larger-scale demonstration in Madrid’s Plaza del Sol on International Animal Rights Day, a ceremony that includes the bodies of dead animals.

That prompted Orian to gather various animal rights groups in New York for a meeting, including PETA and Mercy for Animals, wondering “How can we join forces and create one big day like this, like in Spain, where we leave our differences aside (and) everybody harness their energy toward this one goal of representing animals?” he explained in a 2017 interview with the Green Party’s animal rights committee.

The annual ceremonies also include the reading and signing of The Declaration of Animal Rights, which was drafted in 2011 and which NARD organizers would like to see turned into global law one day. The first of its nine tenets declare that non-human animals too have a “right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of their Happiness.”

Asked in 2021 what he hopes non-vegans might take away from the gathering, Orian told CNS: “That all forms of mass-confining, abusing and then mass killing of animals are detrimental to human health, to the planet, and of course, to the welfare of these trillions of animals. They have rights of their own, which are no different than the basic rights that humans claim to have.”

Orian’s goal is to expand NARD’s profile until it becomes an annual presence in the public consciousness.

“The ultimate goal is that this will become the Memorial Day for animals in every city. Just imagine if every city around the U.S. or the world had a recognized national animal rights day ... if it were a part of the culture and everybody knew about it, just imagine the impact that would have — animals getting their own day where everybody thinks about them, commemorates them,” he said in the 2017 interview.

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