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December 18, 2013

The Genesis Awards

Honoring individuals in the major media and beyond who have inspired change for animals

  • Bill Maher presenting the Sid Caesar Comedy Award in 2012. Tim Long/Long Photography

  • Broadway actress and founder of The Genesis Awards, the late Gretchen Wyler.

  • Actress Tippi Hedren received the Lifetime Achievement Genesis Award in 2010, presented by her daughter Melanie Griffith.  Tim Long/Long Photography

  • Hot on the heels of an Oscar win, director Louie Psihoyos won a Genesis Award for his documentary "The Cove."  Tim Long/Long Photography

  • Genesis Awards Executive Producer Beverly Kaskey, Dusty the dog, and HSUS President/CEO Wayne Pacelle at The 25th Anniversary Genesis Awards. Tim Long/Long Photography

  • Singer Colbie Caillat performed at The 26th Genesis Awards. Tim Long/Long Photography

In the past, animal abuse and exploitation received only scant attention in the mainstream media. What happened to animals invariably occurred in the dark, behind closed doors. The public didn't know—in part because the media hadn't informed them.

A new awareness

Today, however, the major media has animal issues increasingly in its sights, and most people are aware of the disturbing truth about factory farms, puppy mills, animal fighting, animals used in research—and all the myriad ways animals suffer.

As much as film, television, print, and the web reflect societal attitudes, they also help shape and change those attitudes. The mass media, in all its new and diverse forms, has the power to deliver animal protection issues to vast audiences in the blink of an eye.

For example, national media coverage of The HSUS's Chino Slaughterhouse investigation not only led to the largest meat recall ever, but it also exposed the abusive treatment of cattle and thrust it into the public spotlight.
But it isn't just big news stories that we recognize, it's movies, documentaries, and all categories of TV programming which, by incorporating animal protection themes or messages into their storylines, help increase public consciousness, reminding us that compassion for animals is one of our core human values.

What are the Genesis Awards?

The Humane Society of the United States pays tribute every year to the major news and entertainment media for producing these outstanding works that have raised public awareness of animal issues.

For 27 years, the Genesis Awards were presented at a star-studded ceremony that drew representatives from the media, entertainment industry, social, business, and humane communities. Recognized as the nation's premier consciousness-raiser for animal issues, the event attracted a host of celebrities, including Christian Bale, Pierce Brosnan, James Cromwell, Kaley Cuoco, Emily Deschanel, Zooey Deschanel, Kelsey Grammer, Teri Hatcher, Wendie Malick, Rose McGowan, Sidney Poitier, William Shatner, Martin Sheen, Wilmer Valderrama, and Betty White. The most recent gala was held on March 23, 2013, at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Keeping pace with our increasingly online culture, we've discontinued the gala and moved the celebration of Genesis Award winners exclusively online in 2014. Winners will be notified, and their names will be released to the press, in late January. All winners will be featured on our website, and their awards will be mailed to them. Please stay tuned for more information!

Who has won a Genesis Award

Genesis Award winners have included films such as "Gorillas in the Mist," "Babe," "Chicken Run," and "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." TV winners have included "The Simpsons," "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Law & Order," "Bones," and "True Blood." Awards for individuals include the prestigious Wyler Award, as well as Lifetime Achievement Awards, which have been presented to Jane Goodall and Tippi Hedren, among others.

How the Genesis Awards began

In 1986, The Genesis Awards was launched by animal advocate and actress Gretchen Wyler, under the aegis of The Fund for Animals. Wyler came up with the idea because she strongly believed that rewarding members of the media encouraged them to highlight more animal issues, thus increasing public awareness and compassion toward animals. The first annual event—a luncheon drawing only 140 attendees—quickly grew into a large benefit gala in Beverly Hills, Calif., with more than 1,000 guests.
In 1991, Wyler founded The Ark Trust, Inc., which continued to present the Genesis Awards. In 1990, the event was broadcast as a television special, first on the Discovery Channel and then on Animal Planet. In August 2002, The Ark Trust joined forces with The HSUS. Wyler, as a vice president at The HSUS, continued her role as chairperson of the event and executive producer of the television special until her 2006 retirement. Wyler passed away in 2007.

We're looking forward to the online incarnation of the Genesis Awards, and we hope you will join us as we celebrate the 2014 winners on our website.

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