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Philosophy and Goals
and how we achieve them

"Even if we were to succeed in protecting animals from humans, our achievement would amount to nothing. It’s only when we’ve succeeded in no longer needing to protect animals that we’ll have reached our goal. Then, we’ll truly have changed something: OURSELVES."

 Michael Aufhauser


What we are aiming for:

  • To create awareness and communicate values
  • To promote changes in legislation
  • To investigate causes of animal distress
  • To implement and monitor animal rights in the economy
  • To help animals in need

The Philosophy of Aiderbichl

1. In the beginning, the philosophy of Gut Aiderbichl was never for animals to be regarded as "better humans". If an animal is ailing, his fellow creatures certainly take no pity nor do they supply food. Our entire creation did not spring up from a single rib of God: empathy, a sense of what is right or mercy cannot be taken for granted.  Such values emerged during our culture’s quest to find an ideal and better world. But we cannot go from a vale of tears to paradise in one single step: from the butcher in the slaughter house to the vegan, from industrial agriculture back to the farmer’s family association … extreme measures can be a goal, but not the path.

2. Animal protection without protection for humans would also create something like a sect. That’s why Aiderbichl is not just a place to warn people about the need for animals’ rights – not just a corner of paradise, but also a large mirror. What this mirror reflects is a lack of dignity in our treatment of animals – the battery hens and animal transports, our care homes and open-plan offices, not to mention our attitude to those less powerful as well as our relationships among and towards each other. Aiderbichl is a reminder that we are all in it together – our destiny is to live in one community on earth. Ultimately, embracing a better world shouldn’t start with threats and so we call our solution: "Love Life. Aiderbichl." That’s when our animal sanctuary is created a million times over – in people’s thoughts.

3. As a result of an out-of-fashion culture of protest, the common belief was still that it was enough simply to protest for paradise and against our problems. But if we cannot base our values on empathy, a sense of what is right or mercy, no amount of protest leads to this state of paradise, though we can work towards achieving it!  What’s needed instead of complaints and protests are – solutions. That means practical suggestions, political and legally binding decisions as well as concepts for financial planning to achieve our goals.

Humanity should not stop at human beings.

Our Goals and how wie can achieve them:

 1. Animals are no objects, and must be recognized worldwide as our fellow creatures. It’s our role to do all we can to make a difference.

The first thing we had to do was to ensure that Gut Aiderbichl became top of the list in media campaigns in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. That explains the twin strategy we adopt towards the media: on the one hand, there’s a strong link between the estates and its founder. That makes media access much easier. And it’s great that the public shows unrivalled interest for Michael Aufhauser’s work and philosophy. He can make numerous TV appearances to explain his goals as well as promote them in his journalist’s column and as an author of many books. On the other hand, many celebrities, employees at the estate and Aiderbichl volunteers also help publicize our cause. People from different social classes and every area of society support Gut Aiderbichl. So we reach the broad public and have grassroots support.

 2. Animals are no objects and their status must be reflected in laws where animals deserve to be treated as our fellow creatures.

When the regional government in Salzburg accepted the constitutional status of animals as fellow creatures – after a campaign by Gut Aiderbichl in 2002 – something new was put in place that Gut Aiderbichl continued elsewhere. We promote these other projects, with a little discretion, but with great enthusiasm and we’re as delighted as everyone else, especially animal lovers and decision makers, when milestones are established that lead us in the right direction. We also lobby for legislation to stop anyone keeping animals without properly registering and by proving they have the necessary financial resources.

3. Gut Aiderbichl has to get involved in teaching values – that means highlighting cases of animal maltreatment, yet never without making suggestions for better solutions. That’s all in the spirit of our credo: "Humanity isn’t just for humans!" In other words, first we have to respect each other and all living creatures – animals, plants and nature. Spreading the word in the media is essential – in the press, on TV, through books and on the Internet.

We’ve already achieved so much. Michael Aufhauser has a weekly column in the Munich daily newspaper "tz" as well as a weekly AKTE Tier! ("Animal File") column. Similar reports also appear in Krone newspaper. There is also the TV series Die Tierretter von Aiderbichl ("The Animal Rescuers of Aiderbichl"), films such as "Paradise for Animals" and the annual Christmas show "Christmas at Gut Aiderbichl" (by Eurovision, already in its fifth year). In addition, there are reports in TV magazines, several feature-length articles, talk show and radio show guest appearances. Every year, this is how many millions of readers, viewers and listeners in Germany, Austria and Switzerland hear about our cause: let’s risk being human and nature will repay us.

4. The crucial thing is to show that animals have biographies, real life stories – frequently, they are tales of hardship. We tell these stories at the Aiderbichl estates so that our visitors can think about how to treat those meeker creatures. We remind everyone of values in our culture – loving your neighbor, kindness, humility – and underline that these values need to remain a part of human life.

The symbolic meaning of our animal rescues is communicated to the broad public via photos and films. Our activities helping thousands of animals get a second chance in reality involve huge efforts and costs. But thanks to media campaigns, our guided tours at Aiderbichl and Michael Aufhauser’s Internet diary, the impact of teaching values is substantial. That’s why all animals gain if we provide shelter for as many as we can, even though keeping 300 horses for ten years requires about 15 million euros. But helping means giving. And giving makes people happy. Friends of Aiderbichl can access 20 video cameras and see more than 700 animals every day live on the Internet – all our estates are open 365 days a year.

5. At Aiderbichl, all the animals have the chance to lead a life that’s true to their nature – without any pressure and not driven to perform.

Gut Aiderbichl breaks through the barrier of outdated views about animals’ subordinate rank. Chains, cages, spurs, whips and sticks were forbidden at Gut Aiderbichl from the word go. The animals showed their gratitude to us by presenting a side even we had not seen before. In recent years, almost one million visitors have experienced up close how donkeys, goats, cows and horses communicate on our level at the Aiderbichl estates. We deliberately do not give priority to young animals nor do we put our animals through drills.

6. We want to provide background information about our animals, especially so-called work or farm animals, about keeping them, breeding and transport. But we have no intention of creating negative headlines. We want to persuade everyone to think again.

Step by step, we’re not only succeeding here with our press campaigns such as AKTE Tier! ("Animal File"), but also on location with the assistance of our estate tour guides. Our information plaques and brochures offer an insight into a world of horrors that many people know nothing about. Few people realize, for instance, that a battery hen is ready for slaughter after only 29 days and that drugs form part of the daily diet… But we highlight how to change these conditions. We want our visitors to leave with positive thoughts. Our mission is to break away and experience better days!

7. The Aiderbichl estates are part of one family and observe the highest standards of keeping animals. Our estates are attractive for visitors and must be managed cost-effectively and successfully, so our activities must be transparent. Our mission is to establish young teams working in the agricultural sector and animal sanctuaries, and to offer our unique support for their development. With memberships and animal sponsorships, we intend to remain an organization with many grassroots supporters and to maintain a secure financial basis.

Gut Aiderbichl took the decision, as far as possible, to be self-supporting economically and earn most of the substantial financial resources required to keep our rescued animals. More than 30 permanent employees at twenty fife estates provide round-the-clock care for over 5.600 animals (two thirds of them are large animals) – our animal welfare is legendary!  Another large team brings in the necessary funds for successful work in the sectors of our restaurant, merchandising, sales of annual membership tickets and animal sponsorships and tourism. Gut Aiderbichl is now a modern enterprise and a key employer.

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