You may not be familiar with everyone on this list, but to me, they’re all superstars for animals in their own right. Read on (and get ready to be inspired!) by these truly influential heroes for the animals:
1. Jenny Brown, co-founder and executive director of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary: Brown left her successful TV career behind after witnessing the plight of factory farm animals while volunteering as an undercover videographer for an animal rights organization. Today more than 200 rescued chickens, cows, pigs, turkeys and other animals call WFAS home. In her 2012 memoir, The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals, Brown shares the inspiring story behind her journey from childhood cancer survivor to vegan animal rights activist. WFAS is currently moving to a new New York location that will expand the sanctuary from 23 acres to 150!
2. Carol Buckley, founder of Elephant Aid International: As I mentioned in last Thursday’s post, Buckley (one of my personal heroes) is the “grandmother of elephant rights.” She paved the way for a new kind of progressive care of elephants even when it wasn’t cool—and now people all over the world are asking Buckley to come and teach them! Her beautifully photographed picture book, Tarra & Bella, which follows the unlikely friendship between an elephant and a dog (based on a true story), will delight both children and adults alike. EAI’s mission is to “improve the lives of individual elephants living in captive environments through education, veterinary care, improved management and direct assistance.”
3. Jane Goodall: Perhaps the most famous “superstar” on my list, and another personal hero of mine, Goodall’s work with chimpanzees has already inspired millions. Now 80, the primatologist and naturalist keeps moving forward with her amazing work through the Jane Goodall Institute and Roots & Shoots, a global “youth-led community action and learning program” which aims to inspire the next generation. To learn more about her life and lifelong connection to the natural world, check out her latest book: Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder From the World of Plants.
4. Wayne Pacelle: As president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, Pacelle is a true leader and giant in animal welfare. His amazing book, The Bond: Our Kinship With Animals, and Our Call to Defend Them, tackles the important subjects of animal cruelty, emerging research in animal emotions, a historical account of humans’ bond with animals, tips on how we can all help animals, and more. I love him because he brings animal welfare to the front of the news!
5. Gail Pope: Gail is president and co-founder of BrightHaven, and for more than 20 years, Gail and her husband, Richard, have devoted their lives to rescuing and caring for senior and special-needs animals that would otherwise have been euthanized because they are disabled, old or terminally ill. BrightHaven helps animals heal and thrive through the special ingredients of love, natural diet and holistic care (which includes Reiki!). In fact, BrightHaven has hosted my Reiki classes once a month for over 10 years. They have become like a second family to me. Check out this interview I did with Gail about BrightHaven’s work:
Many of the animals at BrightHaven live much longer lives than expected, thanks to their successful recipe! BrightHaven is a unique model for a sanctuary, providing a true home environment for all residents. BrightHaven is also a pioneer in the animal hospice movement. In 2013, BrightHaven received the prestigious Jefferson Award from CBS for their community service.
6. Ian Somerhalder: A famous TV actor known for his roles in Lost and The Vampire Diaries, Somerhalder makes his love and respect for animals widely known. His Instagram is full of heartful photos and messages about animals, including this beautiful photo of him and his new horse with the caption: “Proud new dad … what amazing creatures they are … .” Somerhalder, a passionate environmentalist, launched the nonprofit Ian Somerhalder Foundation to “empower, educate and collaborate with people and projects to positively impact the planet and its creatures.” His foundation’s work with animals focuses on such areas as animal cruelty, habitat and extinction, and therapy animals. “We cannot progress as a society, as a people, if we lack compassion,” he told People Magazine in 2012. Here’s a not-to-be-missed video montage of Somerhalder talking about his passions: animals, the environment and his foundation.
Tell me: Which “superstars” for animals do you admire most?