John Di Leonardo, president of Humane Long Island

by | Mar 29, 2023

John Di Leonardo–president of Humane Long Island, an animal advocacy organization there, where he also oversees its international Duck Defenders project—recalls growing up without family pets, but deeply fascinated by all types of insects. Di Leonardo explains that he had been on an academic path to become a school psychologist, with his training emphasizing students with special needs. A course in Jainism spurred an ongoing interest in that Indian religion, whose key tenets include reducing harm to animals. While still in college, he received an email alert from PETA, inviting Di Leonardo and some fellow students to protest a nearby performance by the Ringling Bros. circus, later getting a similar entreaty to protest appearances by the Cole Brothers circus. Di Leonardo remembers both sets of demonstrations as being effective, but a key distinction was that people who arrived to attend the Ringling Bros. show had already purchased tickets and—while often struck upon hearing about the behind-the-scenes cruelty—still went into the arena, whereas many of the potential Cole Bros, who generally hadn’t yet bought tickets, after protesters exposed them to the same information, walked away from the venue. He describes his stint working for PETA, and points to some of the most important things he learned there, before launching Humane Long Island (initially known as LION). Di Leonardo addresses the chief reason for our conversation: Expanding the advisory often offered, before Easter, across various media, against purchasing rabbits—which often amounts to an impulse buy, sometimes with tragic consequences. His concern is the less-commonly discussed pre-Easter practice of buying domestic ducklings, which are bought by families for reasons similar to the rabbit acquisitions. When those transactions don’t work out, Di Leonardo says, the ducklings are often set free on ponds or otherwise in the wild—these birds have odd bodies, can’t fly, usually don’t have camouflage…so, they’re vulnerable and defenseless, yielding unfortunate, even atrocious, outcomes. (,,


ALSO: I spoke briefly with Tanya Flink, a Digital editor at VegNews, chiefly to discuss one of her recent pieces, “Grab These 18 Accidentally Vegan Products On Your Next Trip to the Grocery Store.” She offered a short description of VegNews, noting that writing for it is a side gig, while her full-time job is in marketing for the plant-based meat brand, Abbot’s Butcher. Flink recounts the idea that spurred the piece and and some of the products on the list she was most surprised by, including baking mixes. While Oreos have long been saluted as vegan, #6 on the list is “Packaged cookies,” identifying others that qualify, among them, Nutter Butters and Nabisco Original Grahams. Flink also provides a sneak preview of her next VegNews article. (

COMEDY CORNER: Eddie Izzard’s “Parrots” (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.


Listen Online Now:


| Open Player in New Window

Sign up for Updates

Get weekly updates about upcoming shows and events!

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Talking Animals. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Archives by Date

In Memoriam

Otis McGarr
(Nov. 1989 – Jan. 4, 2006)

John Taylor
(Sept. 29, 1961-Aug. 20, 2011)