Brian May, guitarist of British rock group Queen, is taking a stand against Japan's dolphin killing, saying the slaughter of animals should end in the same way society has turned against slavery or witch-burning.
"Every species, and every individual of every species, is worthy of respect," May told The Associated Press on Friday while in Tokyo for Queen's sell-out concerts at Budokan arena.
"This is not about countries. It's about a section of humanity that doesn't yet understand that animals have feelings, too."
Protesting the dolphin hunt in the small Japanese town of Taiji, documented in the Oscar-winning "The Cove," has become a cause for celebrities including Sting and Daryl Hannah. Taylor McKeown, a silver medalist swimmer in the Rio Olympics, who has long been fascinated with dolphins, is now in Taiji to monitor the hunts.
Ric O'Barry, the dolphin trainer for the "Flipper" TV series, started the protests against the Taiji dolphin kill, and stars in "The Cove," which depicts a pod of dolphins getting herded into an inlet and getting bludgeoned to death, as blood turns the water red.
The hunters in Taiji and their supporters defend the custom as tradition, although eating dolphins is extremely rare in Japan. The Japanese government also defends whaling as research.
May, who founded the "Save Me Trust" in 2009 to lobby governments on wildlife policy, said he opposes cruelty against all animals, including Britain's fox hunt and Spain's bullfights. Both were also defended as tradition, but that was a mere excuse, he said.
"I know Japanese people — so many. They're decent. They're kind. They're compassionate, but they don't know this is going on," May said of the dolphin killing. "These are mammals, highly intelligent sensitive creatures, bringing up their children like we do, and they are being slaughtered and tortured."