I cannot recall how or when I first found out about Jo-Anne McArthur’s animal-focused photojournalism, but I do remember my interest in the work she does being reinvigorated when a friend shared on Facebook the Washington Post article These haunting animal photos aim to make you reconsider a visit to the zoo. It features a fascinating and wonderfully thoughtful Q&A about McArthur’s new book, Captive. Through the photographs in Captive, McArthur aims to turn the conversation about animals in captivity toward the individual creatures who suffer in environments like zoos and aquariums, bored and without autonomy. The images are so affecting, haunting, and heartbreaking.

Jo-Anne McArthur has been documenting the complex relationship between humans and animals around the globe to create the long-term project We Animals, which spans 20 years and over 50 countries. Recently, McArthur launched the We Animals Archive, a resource for the animal movement, journalists, and educators. The archive is a collection of thousands of images and videos of animals in the human environment – those animals we use for food, clothing, research, experimentation, work, entertainment, and companionship – that are available for free to individuals, organizations, and media outlets around the world working to help animals. The We Animals Archive is the searchable repository for McArthur’s important ongoing work. I’m so happy to know about this incredible resource.

From the artist’s statement: I do this work because I don’t accept the cruelty we inflict on innocents. Because I’ve seen the useless suffering, and the dying. Because how we use and abuse animals is wrong. Because what we do to animals is an inexcusable and terrible abuse of power. Because this abuse needs to change immediately. Because it’s an emergency for billions of animals every day. Because animals value their lives, just as we do. I do this work so that we can see, and feel responsible (because we are all responsible for this), and change.”

McArthur is also the co-founder of the Unbound Project, which documents the women on the front lines of animal advocacy. This woman is legitimately my hero.

Visit artist's site: joannemcarthur.com