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Ian Somerhalder Opening Animal Sanctuary

The actor and animal-welfare advocate hopes the program will help youth with behavioral problems.

Actor Ian Somerhalder is planning to convert a Louisiana farm into an eco-friendly animal sanctuary—and animals aren’t the only ones he hopes will benefit. The Vampire Diaries star is establishing the project in order to give troubled youth the opportunity to bond with and care for the sanctuary’s animals, thereby channeling their behavioral problems into positive interactions. “If you can empower someone who’s really young, who’s had a really tough go at it, to find compassion by using animals—because it’s so much easier than with people—then you have something,” Somerhalder tells E! Online. Last month, the actor was honored at the Humane Society of the United States’ 26th-annual Genesis Awards, at which he received The Wyler Award for his work raising awareness about animal-welfare issues.

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