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Faces of the Animal Protection Movement, Page 3: Judy Ki Dives In to Save Sharks

San Diego activist worked to ban sale of shark fins in California

All Animals magazine September/October 2012

  • Judy Ki                           Kathy Milani/The HSUS

by Cathy Vincenti

San Diego, California

Collected 1,000+ signatures for The HSUS’s Proposition 2 ballot campaign; helped lobby for a California ban on the sale of shark fins

Advice for advocates: “Work hard to build positive relationships with the staffers at all your local, state, and federal legislators’ offices. You’ll earn their respect and name recognition, and they will listen to you.”

Longtime HSUS supporter Judy Ki always wanted to do more to help animals, but the busy middle-school science teacher just didn’t have time. That changed when she retired in 2007; within a month, Ki was on her way to The HSUS’s Taking Action for Animals conference in Washington, D.C. She hasn’t slowed down since.

At a TAFA workshop on factory farming, Ki was inspired to help The HSUS gather signatures to place Proposition 2, a ban on extreme confinement, on the ballot in her home state of California. Back in San Diego, she mastered the art of identifying potential signers: “You see a person walking a dog, and you want to pull over … and say, ‘You love animals?’” Ultimately, she gathered 1,337 signatures, a proud accomplishment for someone who found approaching strangers out of her comfort zone.

Ki then joined HSUS California senior state director Jennifer Fearing on a whirlwind weekend seeking endorsement from the California Democratic Party, where she served on the executive board. “She was fearless in walking up to everyone, and she got members of Congress endorsing Prop 2 that weekend,” says Fearing.

After the initiative passed overwhelmingly, Ki’s work for animals wasn’t over. Fearing asked her to help lobby for a state ban on the sale, possession, and distribution of shark fins. Cut from sharks who are thrown back into the ocean to die, the fins are used in a soup considered a delicacy in some Asian cultures. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Ki translated campaign messages for Chinese media; she also flew to Sacramento and San Francisco multiple times at her own expense. Her dedication was rewarded in October when the ban was signed into law. “I’m just one of the luckiest people on earth,” she says. “How many people, in a couple of years’ time, get to do back-to-back historical [campaigns] for animals?”

As for what’s next on her agenda? Ki stays busy with her political activism and work on Asian-American affairs, but she notes, “if [The HSUS needs] me, I’m there.”

"Judy is constantly forwarding and pushing out our information to her networks. She feels passionate about many causes, but she always reminds me that her support for and engagement with The HSUS is the most important hat she wears, which is a great honor for us."   — HSUS California senior state director Jennifer Fearing

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