Joaquin Phoenix has rescued a cow and her week-old calf from a California slaughterhouse.
The Oscar-winning actor, and passionate vegan advocate, negotiated the release of the two animals from Manning Beef.
The cows – named Liberty and Indigo – will now live out the rest of their natural lives alongside other rescued animals at the Acton branch of Farm Sanctuary.
The rescue, which was also attended by Phoenix’s vegan fiance Rooney Mara, Los Angeles Animal Save Founder Amy Jean Davis, Farm Sanctuary President and Co-founder Gene Baur, and Earthlings director Shaun Monson, who documented the event in a short film.
The short film opened with the now-famous speech made by actor Joaquin Phoenix when he accepted the Oscar for Best Actor earlier this month, for his performance in Joker.
In his speech, Phoenix said: “I think we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world. Many of us are guilty of an egocentric world view, and we believe that we’re the center of the universe. We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources.
“We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.”
According to the film, very shortly after making the impassioned speech, an unplanned opportunity came up ‘that mirrored his speech’ – the opportunity to rescue a two animals from the animal ag industry.
The film shows Phoenix speaking to slaughterhouse owner Anthony DiMaria. Phoenix says: “I don’t need any science to see with my own eyes and hear how an animal responds to pain. Right? That’s undeniable.”
“What if I tell you that here, an animal will perish in 60 seconds?” asks DiMaria. “It has to. That is the most humane, humane harvest process in the country.”
Phoenix replies: “You are the only one you know of that has a process that you have. So that means the majority of them don’t have that. And it’s not only just the death, it’s the process leading up to that death, right? Raising it, the transportation, the separation from the family.”
Talking about the animals presently at the facility, Phoenix and DiMaria quibble over terminology, with the actor repeatedly saying the animals will be ‘murdered’, and the slaughterhouse owner preferring the word ‘harvested’.
‘More in common’
DiMaria then offers Phoenix and Bauer the chance to rescue the mother and baby – as he will not kill mothers and their offspring. The film documents that this is an exception to the rule at most slaughterhouses.
Phoenix said: “I never thought I’d find friendship in a slaughterhouse, but meeting Anthony [President/CEO of the slaughterhouse] and opening my heart to his, I realize we might have more in common than we do differences. Without his act of kindness, Liberty and her baby calf, Indigo, would have met a terrible demise.
“My hope is, as we watch baby Indigo grow up with her mom Liberty at Farm Sanctuary, that we’ll always remember that friendships can emerge in the most unexpected places; and no matter our differences, kindness and compassion should rule everything around us.
“Although we will continue to fight for the liberation of all animals who suffer in these oppressive systems, we must take pause to acknowledge and celebrate the victories, and the people who helped achieve them. Shaun Monson, Amy Jean Davis, and the entire LA Animal Save community, have taken their pain of bearing witness and turned it into effective, diplomatic advocacy for the voiceless. As a result, Liberty and Indigo will never experience cruelty or the touch of a rough hand.”
The film closes with a still image of the calf, and the lyric written by his late brother River Phoenix that Joaquin Phoenix used to close his Oscar speech: “Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow.”
This is the fifth mother-child bovine rescue secured by Los Angeles Animal Save from Manning Beef.