© 2018

Murdering Animals

Writings on Theriocide, Homicide and Nonspeciesist Criminology


  • Contributes to the enquiries of cultural criminology and the sociology of animal abuse

  • Proposes the term “theriocide” for the most accurate means of describing the murder of animals by humans

  • Appeals to scholars in animal studies, criminology, philosophy, sociology and law, as well as those with an interest in art history


Part of the Palgrave Studies in Green Criminology book series (PSGC)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Piers Beirne
    Pages 1-11
  3. Piers Beirne
    Pages 13-48
  4. Piers Beirne
    Pages 197-214
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 215-225

About this book


Murdering Animals confronts the speciesism underlying the disparate social censures of homicide and “theriocide” (the killing of animals by humans), and as such, is a plea to take animal rights seriously. Its substantive topics include the criminal prosecution and execution of justiciable animals in early modern Europe; images of hunters put on trial by their prey in the upside-down world of the Dutch Golden Age; the artist William Hogarth’s patriotic depictions of animals in 18th Century London; and the playwright J.M. Synge’s representation of parricide in fin de siècle Ireland. Combining insights from intellectual history, the history of the fine and performing arts, and what is known about today’s invisibilised sites of animal killing, Murdering Animals inevitably asks: should theriocide be considered murder? With its strong multi- and interdisciplinary approach, this work of collaboration will appeal to scholars of social and species justice in animal studies, criminology, sociology and law.


Nonspeciesist Criminology social science violence against animals Theriocide animal rights animal execution early modern Europe Homicide hunting and blood sports Parricide criminal trials vivisection trafficking militarism and war pollution animal shelters

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of CriminologyUniversity of Southern MainePortland, MEUSA

About the authors

Piers Beirne is Professor of Sociology and Legal Studies at the University of Southern Maine, USA. The founder of nonspeciesist criminology, he is recognized as a leading scholar in green criminology and animal abuse studies. 

Bibliographic information


“The central argument that brings this book together is that animals have a right to live their lives free from humanity’s needs, wants or presumed supremacy over them. … This book is suitable for criminologists and for scholars who study legal issues and animals, as well as animal rights activists, humanities’ scholars and artists who have depicted injustices toward animals.” (Shannon T. Grugan, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice,, February, 2019)​