Little research has been done concerning the disclosure of animal testing in annual reports. We posit that companies receive pressure from two groups to disclose animal testing practices: social/political activists and financial intermediaries (fund managers). We describe a legitimization framework culminating in corporate social disclosures on animal testing in annual reports and we use legitimacy theory to inform our empirical investigation of animal testing disclosures. The results reveal a significant increase in number and intensity of disclosures over the period considered. These disclosures also reflect a change in the nature of the underlying firm behavior in a manner consistent with legitimacy theory and predictions of our legitimization framework. We find that political/social activists appear to be more effective in their legitimizer role than financial intermediaries. Further, exploratory analyses reveal that some socially‐responsible mutual fund managers invested in companies that perform animal testing, despite it allegedly being a screening criterion. In light of these findings, we suggest ways in which animal rights organizations could advocate to further improve corporate behavior with regard to animal testing.

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