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Honoring the news and entertainment media for their outstanding reporting and creative portrayals of animal protection issues, The HSUS recognizes the best in media coverage for works aired or released in 2016.

  • The HALO Effect empowers kids to step up and find ways to help animals. Photo: Nickelodeon

  • Toucan Nation documents how a cruelty case became the catalyst that introduced animal cruelty laws in Costa Rica Photo: Animal Planet

  • Ocean Warriors charts the heroic efforts of those fighting to protect our oceans and sea-life from over-fishing. Photo: Animal Planet

  • Miley Cyrus spent much of 2016 advocating for animals online. Photo: Miley Cyrus/Instagram

  • Ivory Game is an urgent wake‐up call that proves time is running out for the African elephants. Photo: Terra Mater Factual Studios/Netflix

  • Battle for Virunga presents a fascinating exploration of Virunga National Park on the frontlines of conservation. Photo: National Geographic Channel

  • K9 officer Jethro is remembered in a WOIO series for saving his human companion. Photo: Canton Police K9 Association.

2017 Winners

For the 31st year, the annual Genesis Awards serve as a reminder of the importance of all forms of media in helping us expose animal protection issues. From documentaries highlighting the ivory trade and endangered gorillas to magazine and newspaper stories that reveal the scourge of pig farms and puppy mills, the 2017 Genesis winners are proof that the media are an invaluable ally in our fight to protect animals.

Congratulations to all the outstanding 31st Genesis Awards winners. We thank you for shining the spotlight on animal cruelty and exploitation.


The Ivory Game – Netflix Original Documentary
  1. Production: Terra Mater Films and Vulcan Productions in association with Malaika Pictures and Appian Way
  2. Director: Richard Ladkani & Kief Davidson
  3. Producer: Walter Köhler

The Ivory Game is a documentary thriller that goes undercover into the dark and sinister world of ivory trafficking. Directors filmed undercover for 16 months in China and Africa with a team of intelligence operatives, undercover activists and frontline rangers and conservationists to infiltrate the corrupt global network of ivory trafficking. The beautifully photographed exposé follows poachers in pursuit of the ‘white gold' of ivory. Ultimately, the film becomes an urgent wake‐up call that proves time is running out for the African elephants, dangerously nearing closer and closer to extinction.


“Trouble on the tracks” – WRC-TV (NBC Washington)
  1. Reporter: Scott MacFarlane
  2. Producer: Rick Yarborough
  3. Videographer: Jeff Piper

Three-part investigation into 160 racehorse deaths, that have occurred since 2014 at the Charles Town racetrack in W. Virginia. The I-Team investigation has prompted calls for federal oversight of horse racing, including a ban on the use of drugs. This occurs as news emerges of a horse failing a drug test and, although the trainer was suspended, the same horse was subsequently raced again and died on the track. This eye-opening report makes it clear that Charles Town is not one bad apple but indicative of the racing industry in general.

Series on crimes against police canines WOIO Cleveland 19
  1. Multimedia Journalist: Sia Nyorkor
  2. Sr. Producer: Cassandra Nist

A prolific output of nine stories relating to the shooting death of a police dog in an armed robbery. Shot three times, Jethro, the beloved German Shepherd partner of Officer Davis, was the second Canton police K9 to die in the line of duty. Canton police’s head K9 trainer stresses that were it not for Jethro’s bravery, his human partner would have died. The series illustrates the reliance police officers have on their K9 partners, and how these dogs find themselves on the front lines of violence.


“Hunting the Hunters” and “Domestic Violence: When Pets become Pawns” – KTNV (ABC Las Vegas)
  1. Reporter: Darcy Spears
  2. Producer: Kean Bauman
  3. Photojournalists: Kris Oman, Oscar Palomo

Former Genesis Award-winner Darcy Spears presents a disturbing report on illegal poaching in Nevada in “Hunting the Hunters.” Through Facebook postings, authorities were alerted to a “trio of serial wildlife killers” illegally slaughtering deer, elk, antelope, big horn sheep and birds among other species, sometimes leaving full carcasses, killing animals merely for fun. In ”Domestic Violence: When Pets Become Pawns,” Spears shines a light on the connection between domestic violence and animal abuse, a pervasive problem nationwide. An alarming 35-40 abused pets a day are sent to animal shelters in Las Vegas alone. There are currently no laws protecting these animals , but there’s federal legislation pending in the form of The Pet and Women’s Safety Act, which would protect pets, cover veterinary costs and include pets in housing assistance funding.


Street Talk Commentary: Safari Club International – Las Vegas Now I-Team 8
  1. Reporter: George Knapp

Previous Genesis winner George Knapp takes aim at the Safari Club International in sardonic style on the eve of the organization’s annual convention in Las Vegas to auction off permits to wealthy hunters.


“A Dog’s Life” CBS Sunday Morning
  1. Reporter: Martha Teichner
  2. Producer: David Rothman
  3. Editor: Mike Levine

A fascinating examination of dog behavior, with regard to the problems that arise from leaving dogs alone at home for extended periods of time. Most dogs will sleep 12-14 hours a day, but they are our social companions and their existence revolves around people. Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a retired animal behaviorist at Tuft’s University, advocates the use of human mood stabilizing drugs as he claims dogs and people share the same psychological disorders, such as aggression, phobias, PTSD, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Alzheimer’s Disease. While he recommends behavior modification first as treatment for dogs who are destructive when left alone, he prescribes drugs as a last resort, concluding that this is preferable to the alternatives some despairing owners turn to such as the shelter or even euthanasia.


Explorer: Battle for Virunga National Geographic channel
  1. Producer/Director: Tony Gerber
  2. Executive Producers: Jeff Hasler, Brian Lovett, Jared Lipworth, Melissa Wood, Dave Snyder, Margaret Ebrahim

A fascinating exploration of Virunga National Park on the frontlines of conservation. At two million acres, the park is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the most lawless areas on the continent. Riven by war, corruption and ruthless militias, the country is home to half of Africa’s mountain gorillas. Rangers are outnumbered 20-1 by poachers and 140 of them have been killed in recent years trying to protect these gentle animals. Not only are gorillas hunted for bush meat, but they’ve become victims of the fight to control the lucrative charcoal industry so the forests where the gorillas live are gradually being eroded to supply hardwood for charcoal. The documentary looks at why Virunga has become such a contested territory, which has to do with its Belgian colonial past. This long-standing battle for the land has bred a disregard for the gentle gorillas who are the victims of a destructive cycle of conflict and poverty.

Toucan Nation – Animal Planet
  1. Director: Paula Heredia
  2. Producer: Paula Heredia and Larry Lavin
  3. Executive producer for H/3 Foundation: Spencer B. Haber
  4. Supervising producer for Animal Planet: Alexandra Moss
  5. Executive producer: John Hoffman

An inspiring documentary about how an appalling act of cruelty became a lightening rod for a campaign to introduce animal cruelty laws in Costa Rica. Grecia, a toucan whose beak was hacked off, became a poster animal for a movement calling for strong animal cruelty laws. Grecia’s abuse highlighted the need to address animal cruelty head on, motivating the public and animal protection groups to come together to pressure legislators to take action.


Ocean Warriors – Animal Planet
  1. Executive Producers: Robert Redford, Paul G. Allen, Mark Benjamin, Marc Levin, Laura Michalchyshyn, Pagan Danielle Harleman, David Casey, Carole Tomko, Jody Gottlieb, Rocky Collins, Liz Bronstein
  2. Co-Executive Producer: Jerry Decker
  3. Supervising Producers: Patrick Keegan, Yoav Attias
  4. Senior Producer: Christopher Bryson
  5. Producers: Peter Schmuhl, Nicholas Burnett, Katie Carpenter, Adam Schleifer
  6. Executive in Charge: Kara Rozansky
  7. Directors: Mark Benjamin, Marc Levin

Across six gripping episodes, Ocean Warriors charts the extraordinary and often heroic efforts of advocacy groups and individuals fighting to protect our oceans and sea-life from the devastating effects of over-fishing. Following a thriller-style narrative, moving back and forth from one exciting operation to another, the series is adept at keeping its audience engaged. The main storylines include Sea Shepherd’s actions to stop the illegal fishing of the long-living Patagonian Toothfish, as well as the organization’s efforts to protect the rare vaquita whale off the coast of Mexico; an “Eco-Storm” journalist and passionate ocean conservationist who investigates Thailand’s corrupt $7 billion fishing industry, which poaches from other country’s waters and abuses its workers, and the valiant work of the Paulau coastguard dedicated to policing its fish abundant waters, the target of poachers; an undercover operation in Tanzania, Africa, to stop illegal bomb fishing which is destroying the coral reefs along its coastline and the fish populations that depend upon them; and a Greenpeace operation to protect sharks from finning in the Pacific.


The HALO Effect “Purses for Primates” – Nickelodeon
  1. Executive Producers: Nick Cannon, Morgan Spurlock, Richard Arlook, Jeremy Chilnick Matthew Galkin, Ethan Goldman and Michael Goldman
  2. Producer: Erin Glass

This inspiring show empowers kids to step up and find ways to help animals. In order to help orangutans, who are rapidly losing their habitat and are victims of the exotic pet trade, high school student Allie Boyer founded Purses for Primates where she engages her fellow students to collect donated lightly used purses to sell, donating 100% of her proceeds to Orangutan Outreach, an orphan center that rehabilitates baby orangutans.



“The Dog Factory” – Rolling Stone
  1. Writer: Paul Solotaroff

Embedded with an HSUS rescue team and local law enforcement in a puppy mill raid, Solotaroff’s first-hand account paints a haunting picture of the health and horrific living conditions endured by the animals in a puppy mill. He explains how the business of dog breeding has exploded over the past 40 years, beginning as a money-making sideline for struggling farmers. Solotaroff shows how the internet has become a major enabler of puppy mills, selling the majority of all puppies sold in the U.S. His expansive report covers all aspects of the trade, including the role of puppy brokers and puppy auctions, where sick animals are sold in bulk to anyone who will buy, in order to make a last buck out of their damaged product.


“Second Thoughts of an Animal Researcher” – The New York Times
  1. Writer: John P. Gluck

A powerful appeal by a former animal researcher to re-examine the moral grounds of using animals in research. Gluck argues that the conclusions reached by the NIH about the inappropriateness of research on chimpanzees should apply to other primates. He concludes that his years of research did little to help humans and laments the behavioral and physiological damage to the lab animals in his care.


The Price of Pork – Chicago Tribune
  1. Investigative Reporters: Gary Marx and David Jackson
  2. Research Assistant: Madison Hopkins

A four-part investigatiove series that focuses on how cheap meat comes at a high cost in Illinois, covering failures in the states regulatory systems, animal abuse, pollution ad the destruction of fish and aquatic life in rural waterways, and the low paying and physicaly punishing task of raising hogs on contract.



“Tigerhandel trots Artenschutz” – ZDF Germany
  1. Producer: Karl Ammann

A disturbing report featured on Germany’s largest broadcast network to coincide with CITES on the speed breeding of tigers in a commercial factory farm setting for petting operations and consumption in form of meat and derivatives in various parts of SE Asia.


Multiple reports on elephant conservation – The Guardian (UK)
  1. Editorial team: Bibi van der Zee, Karl Mathiesen, Phil Daoust

In a year-long series, The Guardian takes a close look at elephants around the world, probing how the species has begun its population decline. Stories Include an essay looking at the awe-inspiring lineage of the modern elephant, a summary of the current situation, a first look in Kenya at the elephants, and some of the people who seek to look after them, just as news breaks that elephant numbers are dramatically down. The Guardian also looks into the modern ivory trade including the criminals behind these international networks, where the ivory goes and how it gets there. They also dig into the broader picture of the effects of human development on elephants and wildlife in general, looking closely at human-elephant conflict now, and ahead at the possible outcomes of urban and industrial development. The team has worked closely with a team at China Dialogue, and many of the pieces have been translated in Chinese and reprinted by the Chinese media.


  1. Karin Brulliard

Brulliard launched Animalia, an animal-centric blog on WashingtonPost.com which tells the stories of animals, people and the world they share. In Animalia, Brulliard covered a multitude of important animal protection issues including public pressure on the NY Blood Center to take responsibility and fund the rehabilitation of 63 chimps it abandoned to un-inhabited islands in Liberia, Chernobyl's thriving wildlife 30 years after the nuclear disaster, and new technologies that can help prevent the gruesome deaths of billions of male chicks.


  1. Darryl Fears

Darryl Fears reports on varied subject matters and his features often focuse on how government policies in the United States and worldwide can drive an animal to extinction or allow them to flourish and thrive. Through his stories, Fears sheds light into the plight of wild animals fighting for their survival, the international organizations that are working behind the scenes to protect them, and the government entities that defend or endanger them. 


Miley Cyrus

Singer, songwriter, and actress Miley Cyrus is known for being outspoken on many issues that are close to her heart, and animal protection is one of her biggest passions. Whether declaring her love for her adopted dogs and cats, raising awareness about beagles used in laboratory experiments, speaking up for farm animals by showcasing her plant-based eating habits, calling out the fashion industry for still using fur, or urging her fans to choose cruelty-free cosmetics, Miley spent much of 2016 advocating for animals online.

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