Model, actress and filmmaker Katie Cleary is also an animal welfare activist. Founder of the animal welfare organization Peace 4 Animals as well as World Animal News, Cleary’s activism reaches back to her childhood.
“As an 11-year-old, I was passionate about being a vet or zoologist,” Cleary tells the Daily Biscuit. “Then I thought of using entertainment as a platform for animal welfare … to explain what is really happening around the world.”
World Animal News
Created in 2012, Cleary originally pitched World Animal News as a radio show.
“I really wanted to bring Hollywood into the mix because a lot of people listen to the radio for influence,” Cleary says. “I got my animal welfare friends involved and it snowballed from there.”
Soon World Animal News was converted from a radio show to an online news source. It’s often referred to as the CNN for breaking animal welfare news around the world. It covers current topics ranging from the demise of Sea World—largely due to the film Blackfish—to the ivory trade in Africa.
Peace 4 Animals
The charity behind World Animal News is Peace 4 Animals, which helps rescue, rehabilitate and find homes for domestic animals. It also educates the public on avoiding breeders and pet stores in favor of rescuing animals from local shelters. Some of their initiatives include protecting wildlife and endangered species and promoting environmental conservation.
Cleary shared with the Daily Biscuit that down the line she hopes to open her own sanctuary rescue and rehabilitation center in South Africa for endangered species such as large cats.
“My heart is there,” she explains. “When your passion is so urgent—we have a race against time before these animals are gone—I feel like I’m always in a hurry to get things done.”
Cleary has worked with big cat species for most of her life. She’s rehabilitated lions, leopards and black panthers.
“I feel everyone has a mission and purpose in life,” Cleary says. “We have to do whatever we can to give these animals a voice and to give the planet a voice.”
One black leopard in particular, Charlie, stands out in Cleary’s mind. A Hollywood movie director had wanted the leopard as a pet, and so he had Charlie’s teeth and claws removed.
“These animals depend on having their claws and teeth to survive,” Cleary notes. “To take that away from them is not only painful, it’s cruel.”
Fortunately, Charlie was rescued from becoming a lifelong domestic pet.
“We’re slowly but surely moving in the direction to rescue animals from these situations. Retiring [animals in the entertainment industry] to sanctuaries or releasing them after rehabilitation,” Cleary says. “A lot of people don’t use their voice for something that matters. That was the takeaway with what happened to Charlie—the pain he was going through. I wanted to dedicate my life to this.”
Give Me Shelter
Cleary is the executive producer and writer of the documentary Give Me Shelter (2012), which focuses on pressing issues facing the animal world. Cleary gathered influential friends passionate about animal welfare to share their experiences as activists. Some of the film’s topics include the fur trade, puppy mills, and orangutan habitats being destroyed for palm oil.
The trailer for Give Me Shelter won several awards and the 90-minute feature film was picked up by Netflix.
“It took three years to make, and I put my own money into it,” Cleary tells the Daily Biscuit. “Now it’s on a huge platform for people to see what’s happening in the world.”
Cleary notes a few lifestyle changes, such as buying recycled paper or eating less meat and fish would have a meaningful impact on the planet.
What’s Up Next for Katie Cleary
The next thing on Cleary’s to-do list is a follow up film tentatively titled We Are One. This second film will highlight issues not covered in Give Me Shelter, including the underground ivory trade, the dog and cat meat trade, and hunting.
Additionally, Cleary hopes to develop World Animals News into an animal network.
“Now is the time to do it, before these animals are gone,” Cleary notes. “We can take this to the next level and have a CNN network for animal welfare and animal issues. It’s never been done before.”
Having a television component could engage an even larger audience and educate people on the realities of animal welfare around the world.
“If we get enough powerful voices together we can really make a difference. It gives us that platform and what we need to save our planet.”
Get to Know Katie Cleary
Cleary has been a vegetarian since she saw the movie Earthlings (2005) and has 11 rescue dogs and cats of her own.
When asked her favorite thing about animals, Cleary explains, “They can teach us a lot if we listened. … I can understand their pain. In that sense, I believe [being an animal advocate] is a calling.”
Some final advice Cleary has to offer?
“Get involved! Go to a local shelter or wildlife rehabilitation center and volunteer. Adopt or foster a rescue animal,” Cleary says. “Spreading ‘adopt don’t shop’ is the best thing we can do on a community-based level.”
You can watch the trailer for Give Me Shelter below, and view the entire film on Netflix.
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