Stars Who Saved Animals from Slaughter

These celebrity activists went above and beyond to ensure animals in need found safe and loving fur-ever homes

01 of 08

Dianne Warren

Diane Warren, cow
Frazer Harrison/Getty; Getty

The songwriter rescued a cow on the moo-ve after the bovine escaped a Southern California slaughterhouse with 39 others in June 2021, and coordinated for it to be sent to the nonprofit Farm Sanctuary. (One of the cows was shot by authorities, and the remaining 38 were rounded back up.)

The Grammy winner explained that while the save wasn't her first, as she runs a farm animal rescue in Malibu, it was symbolic of a larger mission.

"This feels like a special cow… So it's almost like she represents all cows wanting to be free," Warren told the Associated Press.

02 of 08


Cher elephant
Cher and Kaavan. Courtesy The Smithsonian Channel

The pop diva fought to move Kaavan, who gained fame as "The World's Loneliest Elephant," from a Pakistani zoo to a Cambodian sanctuary. The four-year quest and journey of 2,300 miles inspired the documentary Cher & The Loneliest Elephant, which hit the Smithsonian Channel in May of 2021.

"I can't explain it in words. It was joyous," the icon told PEOPLE of seeing Kaavan settle into his new home at the Wildlife Sanctuary at last. "He was so engaged. His behavior had completely changed."

03 of 08

Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell meets HSI dog meat trade rescue Robin
Courtesy Good Morning Britain/ITV

The America's Got Talent judge was dog-gone emotional last summer after meeting a pup he helped rescue from a South Korean dog meat farm.

In 2018, Cowell donated more than $32,600 to Humane Society International to help the animal welfare organization shut down the farm and rescue the 200 dogs living there.

Meeting a Maltese mix named Robin on-air during ITV's Good Morning Britain, the TV personality visibly cuddled the pup close during the entire segment.

"This is difficult for me … but it is important because, without people like you, he'd basically be in someone's stomach," Cowell told news correspondent Philippa Tomson, who adopted the dog. "And dogs will give up their lives for you. They really would … So what you do is so important, bless you."

04 of 08

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix

Holy cow! One day after advocating for animal rights during his Oscars acceptance speech for Best Actor in February 2020, the Joker star made good on his word and helped free a cow and her newborn calf from a Los Angeles slaughterhouse, transporting them to Farm Sanctuary.

"Oh my love," the animal rights advocate said, personally unloading Liberty and baby Indigo from a truck and freeing them into a field.

05 of 08

Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Carolina Waterfowl Rescue; Inset: Getty

Better together! The Supernatural star gave Jack the donkey and Diane the emu a fairy-tale ending by adopting the rescue animals in December 2018. The unlikely pair was seemingly abandoned in North Carolina, with their rehoming coordinated by the Carolina Waterfowl Rescue.

"They have a very nice paddock with lots of green grass. Jeffrey is building them a new heated enclosure, even though the one they have now is very nice. They will be spoiled," Jennifer Gordon, executive director of nonprofit rescue, told PEOPLE of the animals' new home on Morgan's New York farm.

06 of 08

Gus Kenworthy

Gus Kenworthy dog
Gus Kenworthy/Instagram

The Olympic skier helped Humane Society International rescue 90 dogs from a "horrifying" dog meat farm in South Korea during the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang.

Kenworthy even adopted a dog named Beemo from the pack. Though the pup sadly passed away soon after due to a heart condition, Kenworthy later adopted a puppy from the litter born in and rescued from South Korea. The new dog's name, Birdie, honors "one of Beemo's favorite things in the world," the Olympian said.

07 of 08

Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart and goats
Courtesy Farm Sanctuary. Inset: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty

Not kidding around, the former Daily Show host helped recover and rehome two lone goats found wandering the New York City subway system in August 2018. Animal care officers got the goats off the tracks, and phoned Farm Sanctuary – of which Stewart's wife Tracey is a board member – to get the creatures to safer pastures.

In fact, Stewart drove the goats out of the Big Apple to their new sanctuary home upstate himself. The animal rescue was all in a day's work for the Stewart family – the former late-night host and his wife bought a farm to open a New Jersey branch of Farm Sanctuary in 2015.

08 of 08

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney, chickens
Pierre Suu/Getty; Getty

A decade ago, the musician partnered with PETA to produce a video called "Glass Walls," highlighting the "horrific abuse" of the meat and dairy industry at factory farms, giving viewers a harrowing glimpse of real-life footage of cows, chickens, sheep and other animals around the world.

Doubling down 10 years later, McCartney said the mission of the message rang true as ever as he promoted veganism.

"Whether you're worried about diseases that spring from slaughterhouses, the animals who suffer terribly and needlessly, or the catastrophic impact of the meat industry on our environment, please watch this short video and share it with your friends," he said in a statement.

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