Lion Ark Gala sponsored by ADI – Animal Defenders International was a fantastic party in the Hollywood Hills on a beautiful October Saturday night at the very impressive manse of actor James Costa. (It was the 25th animal fundraiser that he has hosted.) Lion Ark gala was packed with animal rights leaders, animal artists and animal lovers, Hollywood celebrities, celebrities in the animal advocacy world, and at least two genuine celebrities in both fields. Awards were given to the two stars who qualify as both: Bob Barker and Jorja Fox.
It was a treat for partygoers who care about animals to not only support and learn more about a highly effective animal organization, and meet with celebrities, but also to mingle and find out about so many other people who are doing their own unique things for animals.
Jan Creamer and her husband Tim Phillips have been heading up Animal Defenders International for 22 years, but only in recent months have opened offices in Los Angeles. Their organization lobbies to protect animals in entertainment, and from their use in experiments, and other highly abusive. and deadly situations. They started their work in England, and been effective there as well as other European countries and have had great success in various countries in South America.
A.D.I.'s global campaign against the use of animals in circuses is called Stop Circus Suffering. Creamer explained their three throng approach: they find undercover investigators who go into circuses, factory farms and fur farms and work – often for two years- to be able to capture very good footage of the treatment of animals in the facility. These are videos that show undeniable abuse and are so heartbreaking and hard to watch. They then present this evidence to authorities that are in a position to put a stop to the suffering and work with them to get laws en-acted. Then they go back in and make sure the animals are truly being released into good situations and help re-home them in sanctuaries.
Lion Ark the feature length documentary film, is an action-packed story which shows Jan and Tim face to face with animal thugs in Bolivia who were not keen on giving up their lions. In a dramatic rescue operation, lions are removed from their dens of torture and brought back to the States. It is horrifying to see the conditions the lions are in and later in the film you can see them stepping into freedom for the first time in their lives, the first run on grass at the Wildlife Sanctuary in Colorado. The entire expedition was funded by the very generous Bob Barker.
Attendees were treated to a private preview of scenes from the film which is still in production and encouraged to contribute toward its making. The hope is that when Lion Ark is screened, it will educate the public about the horrors that take place outside the big top and behind the camera to the inevitable conclusion: wild animals do not belong in entertainment. This could help influence the passage of TEAPA, Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act in Congress, which seeks to ban such abuses nationally.
Bob Barker, with his breadth of years as a multiple Emmy winning television host on The Price is Right (and before that Truth or Consequences and other shows) received the Lord Houghton Award, given by a quartet of European animal welfare groups once a year. This year is ADI’s turn to pick the winner and there was no contest. “Bob is the lion of the animal rights movement,” Creamer told the audience.
Some of Barker’s many famous animal philanthropic actions are becoming more known, such as his funding of Animal Law Studies in law schools around the country – an action that is sure to influence the future welfare of animals in the U.S.. When the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ventures out to interdict Japanese whale hunters, it is in a ship secretly purchased and outfitted using five million dollars from Barker’s donation. The ship is named MY Bob Barker. His donations also helped P.E.T.A. (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) establish offices in Los Angeles in 2010.
Barker has funded barns and habitats for elephants, bears and other rescued animals and often funds the transport of such animals to safe havens at P.A.W.S. (Performing Animal Welfare Society) and other sanctuaries. He creates ads against different forms of animal abuse: in a recent one he made with the group Mercy for Animals, he exposes the cruelty to pigs at a factory farm that supplies pork to Walmart.
When he left the microphone at the gala, he gave us his classic line that he always ended his show with, “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered” as he simultaneously contributed millions to spay and neutering programs.
At 89, Bob is all class and witty charm. He quipped about ADI’s Creamer and Phillips, “the animals of North America would be much better off today if they(Creamer and Phillips) had come over on the Mayflower!” and “We hope America will become at least as civilized as Bolivia.”
When he received his award, he said, “In the words of our Vice President, ‘this is a big f-ing deal!’” He also said he had meant to bring them a check and left it at home, so wrote out and presented them with an I.O.U. I felt personally honored and thrilled on meeting him when I told him my name and that I had written an article in LASplash about CircusPaws, he said, “Yes I saw that and it was a wonderful article.”
Jorja Fox, perhaps best known for her long-running role as Sara Sidle in CSI. Jorja was awarded the Animal Champion Award by ADI. Jan explained that she was has been there with them and for them through many operations. She is a genuine and from her they feel much moral support and strength.
Georja Umano is an actor and animal advocate.
For more information about ADI, visit www.ad-international.org