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IDA gives 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award
to Ben White

On Sunday evening, In Defense of Animals (IDA) gave its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award to longtime champion of Animals and the Environment, Ben White of Friday Harbor, Washington. Ben, who worked for IDA in the 1990's, follows a list of esteemed award winners including the late David Brower and Cesar Chavez, and the eminent Dr. Jane Goodall.

The presentation of this award was bittersweet, for White could not receive it in person. In Spring he was diagnosed with an aggressive and terminal form of abdominal cancer. Devastatingly, he is not expected to live more than a few weeks.

In presenting the award, IDA's president, Dr. Elliot Katz, stated, "Ben White is a very special individual who symbolizes what is the very best in all of us, working tirelessly to make the world a more just and compassionate place for all our fellow beings."

Ben has spent a lifetime defending animals and wild places, not only through words, but also through bold and often death-defying actions. From tree sits in ancient redwoods, to daring, middle-of the night liberations of captured dolphins in Japan and Mexico, to his famous invasion of cardboard turtles at the World Trade Organization protest in Seattle, Ben has never backed down from a challenge to help animals or the earth.

Over a decade ago, Ben traveled to Japan on behalf of IDA to document first-hand the horrors of the drive fishery, in which hundreds of dolphins are herded ashore and brutally slaughtered. The youngest and best-looking dolphins are set aside for sale to marine parks throughout the world. Ben's handwritten journal and eyewitness testimony helped convince the U.S. government to ban a northern California amusement park, Marine World Africa USA, from importing false killer whales captured in the drive fishery.

Ben was not content to stop at just witnessing the atrocity, however.

The night before he left Japan, under cover of darkness, Ben dove into the water where dozens of dolphins were confined in a netted off Bay. With no diving gear to assist in his underwater adventure and only his inner light to guide him, Ben cut the nets and watched an estimated 40 dolphins swim free. Back in the U.S., he laid his body down in front of buses filled with travel agents visiting Marine World, stopping traffic and making a strong statement about that park's complicity in the bloody slaughter of dolphins in Japan.

Ben's decades of activism have not left him weary or cynical. His indomitable spirit, boundless creativity, and fierce bravery continue to inspire generations of activists.

In his final fight, the one against cancer, Ben is again teaching us a lesson about courage in the face of adversity. He is facing death with grace and honor.

Ben White is a most worthy recipient of the IDA Lifetime Achievement Award, and we are honored to bestow it on him. Our thoughts go out to him, his children and to the large extended family of friends and fellow activists whom he calls his tribe, during this difficult time.