Awards for Promoting Animal Issues

The Genesis Awards honors media for raising public awareness
By JoAnna Lou, March 2012, Updated July 2016

Some say that award shows are all about politics and popularity. But at least one show is about rewarding works that bring attention and compassion to those who need it. Since 1986, the Genesis Awards has honored television, film, print and radio media for raising public awareness about animal issues. One of my favorite films of all time, Finding Nemo, won Best Animated Feature Film in 2004.

The Genesis Awards were founded by Broadway actress and animal advocate, Gretchen Wyler, to encourage members of the media to spotlight animal issues. In her honor, a special award is given each year to a celebrity who uses his or her fame to bring attention to animal issues.

This year's Gretchen Wyler Award will be given to actor Ian Somerhalder. The Vampire Diaries actor blogs, tweets and talks about animal issues, such as puppy mills and shark finning. He has also addressed Congress about endangered species.

The other Genesis Award winners will be revealed at the ceremony on Saturday, March 24 in Beverly Hills. The final results are decided by a committee selected based on their personal histories in working for animal causes.


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Here are some of this year's Genesis Award nominees. The full list can be viewed on their website. Which are your favorites?

Feature Film

Feature Documentary

  • Born to Be Wild 3D
  • Buck
  • One Lucky Elephant

Sid Caesar Comedy Award

  • The Cleveland Show, “Ain't Nothin' But Mutton Bustin'”
  • The Colbert Report, multiple issues
  • Melissa & Joey, “Toledo's Next Top Model”

Dramatic Series

  • The Glades, “Swamp Thing”
  • Hawaii Five-O, “Lapa'au”

National News

  • ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, “Egg Farm Cruelty”
  • CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, multiple issues
  • NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, multiple issues

Talk Show

  • The Ellen Degeneres Show, multiple issues
  • The Martha Stewart Show, “Vegan Cooking”
  • The Oprah Winfrey Show, “Vegan Challenge”

Reality Series

  • Animal Planet Investigates: Captive Hunting Exposed
  • Crimes Against Nature, “Blood Ivory” and “Making a Killing”
  • It's Me or the Dog, “Bone of Contention”
  • Vanguard, “Tiger Farms”


  • Mother Jones, "The Cruelest Show on Earth"
  • National Geographic, multiple articles
  • O, Oprah Magazine, multiple articles
  • Vanity Fair, “Agony and Ivory”

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.