April 11, 2011; Source: MNN | PETA, ever a master of message, has sent a letter to Michael Jackson’s children asking that Jackson’s 2,800-acre estate be turned into an animal sanctuary. They write in part, “We are writing because it has come to our attention that you hope to one day turn your father’s Neverland Ranch into a community park and center for animals . . . We encourage you to call for this vast refuge to be turned into a true wildlife sanctuary where animals can be properly taken care of instead of a zoo, where people are encouraged to gawk at imprisoned animals in the name of profit.”
The land is partially owned by Colony Capital, which is now renovating the property. But according to this article, they are working with the children to make sure their wishes are respected. “Our plans have been to work to restore it to its original greatness,” says CEO Tom Barrack. “The place is amazing. It has not only the beautiful spirit and softness of Michael, but a legacy of a thousand years of Indian culture that had transacted upon it. We have just been restoring it, renovating it.”
Michelle Cho who issued the letter from PETA, which included planning resources, also wrote, "We encourage you to review these resources and begin planning for the eventual transformation of Neverland Ranch into a sanctuary similar in nature to that of its namesake – a place where animals can escape from their former lives of abuse and neglect."
PETA’s ability to find the opportunity to drive home their story is truly phenomenal. Some may think them shrill or off base but they know the value of memorable messaging.—Ruth McCambridge