We want to see the good in the world and we want our favorite celebrities to be a part of it. We want change and we want to see the goodness that comes from becoming famous. That is why it was no great surprise to find that many popular celebrities take a very active role in showing their love for animals, both pets and wild animals.
Celebrities take on multiple roles when they decide to openly show their love of animals. Some post to their Twitter accounts, some go out and actively rescue abandoned pit bulls, and others help with the fundraising for charitable animal foundations and organizations. It doesn't matter what they do, as long as they do something, and that goes for the rest of us, as well.
When I first sat down to write this article, I already knew of some of the more popular animal rights activists, such as Betty White and Ellen DeGeneres. What I didn't know was that there were a lot of celebrities who, because of the characters they played on television, were fairly unknown for their generous and giving work towards animal rights. Steve-O's work, for example, surprised me to no end.
18 Simon Cowell
Given that Cowell has such a tough exterior and became famous for his blunt opinions on American Idol, it may be shocking to learn that he is a die-hard animal lover. Cowell works as a celebrity model for Peta and has spoken out on those who neglect their animals, from leaving them in hot cars to unnecessary negligence. He also pledged to help fight for captive dolphins as well.
17 Kaley Cuoco
One of the biggest animal lovers in Hollywood, Cuoco says that she always had animals growing up. She spends a lot of her time helping animal rescues such as PETA and Animal Avengers. Although she has always loved animals she claims that the need to help rescue animals came to her a few years ago, stating “A few years ago, something just hit me. I had never felt so connected to animals in my life. All of a sudden, I woke up and realized that I have to rescue dogs.” Kaley continues to rescue animals and claims that she is meant to be doing this.
16 Russell Simmons
Famous for his hip hop and rap acts, it may be a little surprising to learn that Simmons is vegan and practices yoga, above all he is very passionate about animals. In 2010 he was awarded the PETA Person of the Year Award, for his notable work helping animals. Another impressive fact is that Simmons has a vegan line of clothing that is leather, fur and wool free.
15 Sarah McLachlan
The amazing singer of “I Will Remember You,” Sarah McLachlan is also an incredible animal lover. She is an extremely active supporter of the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and she helps raise money for the care of neglected and abused pets. Her song, “Angel”, is used in her commercial created to raise money for the ASPCA and has so far raised more then $30 million dollars to benefit the care of animals. Most of us cannot handle watching these commercials because they pull on our heart strings, and McLachlan can't handle the commercials either, stating "I change the channel. I can't take it, I can't even look at it. It's just so depressing."
14 Joaquin Phoenix
“It takes nothing away from a human to be kind to an animal,” says Joaquin Phoenix, and we could not agree with him more. We loved hating him in Gladiator, but for his outstanding fight for animal rights, we love him. Phoenix is a longtime vegan and supports many of PETA’s campaigns. He takes a stand against the fishing industry and against the trade of exotic skins. He refuses to wear any leather, which was a big deal during the filming of Gladiator, but he stood firm in his beliefs.
13 Bob Barker
He is well known as the former host of The Price is Right and an amazing animal lover. Bob Barker would end each show on The Price is Right by asking his viewers to spay and neuter their beloved pets. What’s more, on two separate occasions he was the spokesman for Be Kind to Animals Week. The amazing Bob Barker also has a charity foundation, DJ&T Foundation, that has raised millions to support neutering, spaying, and animal rescue programs. He is quoted as saying that, “Nothing gives me quite so much joy as when people tell me they've had their pets spayed or neutered.”
12 Ice-T and Coco
I remember him as a rapper, but these days he is mostly known for his role in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” Ice-T and his wife, Coco, model and co-star of the realty show “Ice Loves Coco,” provide a huge amount for support for animals in shelters. They are the proud parents of an English Bulldog, Spartacus, and they have donated their time and energy to help raise money for New Jersey’s Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter.
11 Kristen Bell
From Veronica Mars and House of Lies, Kristen Bell has an aura that can leave a person dazzled and speechless, but thank goodness her beauty has not left her speechless about her love of animals. Kristen Bell is an animal shelter advocate and strongly supports fostering animals. Being very outspoken and true to the cause, in 2009 she received a Humane Award from the Helen Woodward Animal Center and is quoted as saying, “I have always been an animal lover. I had a hard time disassociating the animals I cuddled with—dogs and cats, for example—from the animals on my plate, and I never really cared for the taste of meat. I always loved my Brussels sprouts.”
10 Woody Harrelson
When I think of Woody Harrelson, I automatically think of his role in “Natural Born Killers,” and not of the actual actor who is a surprisingly compassionate individual. He is both an animal and environmental activist, and speaks out against animal testing, saying, “Every year tens of thousands of animals suffer and die in laboratory tests of cosmetics and household products … despite the fact that the test results do not help prevent or treat accidental or purposeful misuse of the products.” He is also working to help produce wood-free and eco-friendly paper.
9 Ian Somerhalder
From Smallville to The Vampire Diaries, actor Ian Somerhalder is a wonderful dream come true on the television screen, but he also has a surprising, nurturing side to him. Not only is he an avid animal lover, he also runs the Ian Somerhalder Foundation that raises money to support no-kill pet shelters. And if that is not enough, his foundation is also raising funds to start its own sanctuary for homeless pets. This amazing man says that, “Animal cruelty is one of the most unfortunate and barbaric demonstrations of human beings manipulating ill-conceived notions of ‘power’ over other species.”
8 Emily Deschanel
Emily Deschanel is an incredible woman on and off screen. Her role as Temperance Brennan in Bones shows a compassionate woman with a strong love for animals. In real life, Emily speaks out against factory farming and animal cruelty. She is also a vegan, stating that, “Farm animals are just as interesting and intelligent as the dogs and cats who we know a bit better. Yet they are treated by the meat industry as though they are inanimate objects with no feelings or personalities.”
7 Betty White
Who doesn’t love Betty White? From her days on The Mary Tyler Moore Show to her time spent making us laugh in Golden Girls, Betty White continues to delight us with her spitfire, comedic appearances. Aside from acting, she provides an overly generous amount of support for numerous animal organizations. She also supports medical and health research for animals and asked her fans and other animal lovers to support the Morris Animal Foundation on her 91st birthday. She serves as an administrator and co-chair on the board of trustees for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association and she is quoted as saying that, “You can always tell about somebody by the way they put their hands on an animal.”
6 Anne Hathaway
Known as the actress in The Princess Diaries and Les Miserables, Anne Hathaway is more than an Oscar winning beauty. She is also a vegan, a person who does not eat meat or animal byproducts, such as milk or cheese. Hathaway is proud and outspoken about her way of life, choosing to change her diet in order to help support animals and the health of the planet.
5 Sophia Bush
Do you have a special place in your heart for pit bulls? So does Sophia Bush, a starring actress in One Tree Hill and Partners. Sophia Bush loves pit bulls so much that she has actively participated in the rescue of multiple pit bulls. She speaks out about their adoption to the press, as well as advocating the adoption of all pets that are living in shelters. She also openly supports PETA, especially on her Twitter account, as well as numerous other animal charities.
You have seen him in the MTV series, Jackass, and you probably thought of many unkind things about the stunts and the men in the show, but I bet animal rights activist never came into your mind. Well, even a jackass can grow up and become an admirable man. Steve-O is the surprising winner of humanity from the series. He has gone through many life changes and now says, “I’m a proud vegan, whistle-blower, and animal rights activist.” Surprise! He is not only outspoken about the treatment of farm animals, he has also narrated a documentary for Farm Sanctuary called “What Came Before.”
Love or hate her music, Ke$ha loves animals, especially the wild kind. Singer of “Your Love is My Drug” and “TiK ToK,” has a unique style that is all her own. She openly supports and uses cruelty free cosmetic products and she speaks out against cruelty to wild animals, such as the killing of baby seals. She is also actively trying to get African lions placed on the Endangered List and, when the lion Cecil was killed by an American dentist, she said, “I was heartbroken along with so many Americans who are mourning the terrible killing of the lion Cecil by a man from Minnesota.”
2 Howard and Beth Stern
We all know Howard Stern from his radio show and blunt commentary. What you probably did not know is that both he and his wife, Beth Stern, are animal lovers. They are actively involved with the North Shore Animal League and have even helped them raise money by producing pet calendars for the organization. In 2012, after Howard and Beth lost their beloved bulldog, Bianca, Howard Stern told us that, “She was the love of our lives. She completed us as a couple. I don’t have children of my own, so she was my everything—my light, my love, everything that a dog encompasses in a household.”
1 Ellen DeGeneres
If you have never watched the Ellen DeGeneres Show, you do not know what kind of fun you are missing. From roaring laughter to extremely touching moments, Ellen takes you to new emotional heights. If you have seen her show, you know that she absolutely loves animals. In fact, she used to want to be a veterinarian as a child. As a successful adult, she is the co-owner of a holistic pet care company called Halo, Purely for Pets. She has also launched a Facebook game called Joy Kingdom that encourages users to donate money to different animal charities. Thank-you for all your work, Ellen!