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On Saturday, March 3, 2012, Ric O’Barry, star of the Academy Award winning film, “The Cove,” was honored at a red carpet fundraising event, “A Night For The Dolphins.” The posh affair was held in a Beverly Hills mansion owned by James Costa and raised much needed funds to continue to save slaughtered Dolphins around the world and advance awareness for the protection of them.
Tickets were $150 each, which included vegan hors d’oeuvres, a cocktail reception, champagne toast and a generous gift bag. Around 200 people crowded into the scenic home and were entertained by vocalist Mia Maestro with a DJ set by Michelle Rodriguez, a seasoned actress from the popular TV series, “Lost.”
A new PSA, ‘Kids Speak Out Against Dolphin Captivity” was shown at the party, which featured children – “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” Ric O’Barry was introduced to a supportive audience by event producer Deborah Bassett and brought the crowd up to speed with the latest happenings around the world stating that “(The dolphin) hunting ended early this year, due to lack of demand. It usually goes from September to April.” He continued, “I guarantee (the hunting) will stop.” Speaking over a cheering flock of supporters, he explained that they had signed contracts with other places and that had stopped hunting completely. He made it clear that he “likes” Japan, and only “has an issue with certain men who are killing the dolphins.” He ended saying, “this is an ongoing campaign and thank you so much for supporting it.”
Well known animal activist and Animal Alliance Founder, Ellen Lavinthal said, “Tonight is a night for the protection of the intelligent and sensitive mammals of the seas– the dolphins who are needlessly slaughtered, all for the sake of having entertainment at Sea World and other water parks.” Environmental activist, Earth Island/Dolphin Project consultant and “A Night For The Dolphins” event producer Deborah Bassett explained, “Ric is one of the most dedicated activists working on behalf of marine mammal protection and wildlife conservation on the planet today. I have a profound respect and admiration for his sincere desire and tireless mission to eradicate dolphin slaughters around the world and put an end to the captive dolphin industry.” Bassett continued, “Having worked in the field with Ric in Taiji and as a consultant for Earth Island Institute and Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, I have witnessed firsthand his unique approach and it is one that encompasses the people of Japan. Ric has always been about embracing the culture and working with the Japanese people to effect change from within as he understands that this is ultimately where it needs to come from. He remains steadfast in this vision and those of us who are honored to work so closely with him support his efforts 100%.”
Ric O’Barry was first recognized in the 1960’s for capturing and training five dolphins, which were used in the well-known TV series “Flipper.” After witnessing the ‘suicide’ of one of the beloved “Flipper” dolphins, Kathy, who swam into his lap and died, O’Barry made a radical turn around and began combating the industry which captures dolphins. In 1970 he founded the Dolphin Project, a group that aims to educate the public about captivity, and whenever possible, free dolphins. He was front and center in the 2009 Academy Award-winning film, “The Cove” which used brilliant and gutsy covert techniques to expose the yearly dolphin hunting drive that occurs in Taiji, Japan.
Prominent guests who came out to honor Ric O’Barry included One Tree Hill’s Sophia Bush, Ed Begley Jr., Veteren actress Joanna Cassidy, Breaking Dawn actress Maggie Grace, Biggest Loser fitness icon, Jillian Michaels, Licoln O’Barry, Hit recording artist Fawn, Lost actress Michelle Rodriguez, Whale Wars Ady Gil, Q’orianka Kilcher, Leilani Munter, Eric Balfour, Lina Esco, Abilgal Spencer, Ashley Scott, Lasse Larsen and Steve Hart.
Some of the event sponsors were Zico Coconut Water, Golden Mean Café’, Julian Hard Cider, Ecojoia and many more. All proceeds benefitted Richard O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, a campaign under the International Marine Mammal Project at the non-profit Earth Island Institute.
To find out more about Richard O’Barry and the Dolphin Project, go to www.dolphinproject.org and Dolphin PSA
On Saturday, February 11, 2012, During the high-profile Grammy Awards weekend, and just 2 hours before Whitney Houston was found dead at age 48 at the Beverly Hills Hilton less than 2 miles away, a large mass of 150+ anti-fur protestors dressed in funeral clothing surrounded the trendy Maxfield boutique located at 8825 Melrose Avenue in the city of West Hollywood, CA 90069.
Organized by Fur Free West Hollywood, which is spear-headed by Animal Alliance’s Ellen Lavinthal, the protest was publicized all over popular social websites including Facebook and Twitter. Lavinthal explained that she was given a personal promise from Maxfield owner Tommy Perse that the fur in his store would be removed early, however shortly after she left, the fur magically re-appeared. Lavinthal stated, “There were five fur coats in there yesterday. They broke their word, so we are here today to show them that we are watching.”
Hit recording artist Fawn commented, “If you’re going to continue to display and sell fur, after you’ve agreed to take it down, don’t lie about it! That shows a lack of integrity and if you lack integrity in your word, then what do the products you sell lack?”
Fawn said, “In this day and age, there are plenty of faux fur alternatives. Wearing real fur is cruel, pure vanity and ethically wrong.”
Agreeing with her, Lavinthal concluded, “We will be back for the Oscars, and every other major entertainment event thereafter until they keep their word.”
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Last Chance For Animals undercover investigator Bryan Monell pointed out, “While Maxfield lied, more animals died,” a sentiment several protestors began to shout “While Maxfield Lies, They Die,” and “Maxfield Lied, They Died.” Other activists bellowed “Boycott Maxfield” and one participant yelled about dogs and cats being skinned alive in China for fur, as people walked by. One of those people happened to be virtuoso guitarist Nils Lofgren, best known for playing with Bruce Springsteen in the E Street Band, Crazy Horse and Grin.
All in all, it was a calm, civil and somber protest with participants wearing long faces, black veils and carrying gruesome signs with photos of animals skinned alive – an unfortunate reminder of what goes on in the fur industry. Animal rights activist Patty Shenker said, “It’s deplorable what is done to these sentient beings, and all for vanity! Only frigid women wear fur!”
A ‘funeral procession’ with protestors completely cloaked in black, holding black signs and wearing black veils traveled up and down the streets frequented by many celebrity clientele such as Mary Kate and Ashley Olson, Madonna, Johnny Depp, Prince, Adam Lambert and Faux-fur friendly Pamela Anderson.
West Hollywood is known for being a “city of compassion” with several historic laws passed, such as the recent decision of West Hollywood becoming the first Fur Free city in the United States (taking effect September 2013), the ban on the declawing of cats, the sale of animals in pet stores, and the distinct classification of pets no longer being “property” but being referred to as “companion animals.”
Among the protestors were Religious leaders Rabbi Jonathan Klein and Michael Mata, a minister with the National Evangelical Latino Organization. Klein and Mata are part of the ‘Faith Action for Animals’ and hope to bring faith and animal rights together for ethical reasons. Klein explained that up until the days of Noah, people were eating a “plant based” diet, quoting one of the 10 commandments, “though shalt not kill.” He continued, “All creation, all life is precious and valuable.”
According to protest co-organizer Ed Buck, when the Fur Free West Hollywood campaign began last year, Maxfield which is known for it’s unusual, eclectic and extravagant merchandise, agreed to remove all fur items from their store, joining other West Hollywood stores that also volunteered to ‘take down early’ such as H, Lorenzo, The Pleasure Chest, and Zadig & Voltaire on Sunset Plaza.
Eleven years old Stella Lavinthal said, “Out of all the stores that agreed to remove their fur early, Maxfield was the only one that said they would and didn’t. What’s up with that? They lied, so we’re here today to let them know that it’s not okay to lie.”