Actor and vegan activist Joaquin Phoenix recently saved a cow and her week-old daughter from being killed at slaughterhouse Manning Beef in California. Phoenix negotiated the release of the animals from the slaughterhouse alongside a group that included fiancée and fellow activist Rooney Mara, both his and Mara’s mothers, Earthlings director Shaun Monson, Los Angeles Animal Save Founder Amy Jean Davis, and Farm Sanctuary President and Co-founder Gene Baur. In a short documentary of the rescue created by Monson, Phoenix speaks to slaughterhouse owner Anthony DiMaria, who proceeds to explain to the actor that the cows he exploits are purchased from the dairy industry after they no longer produce milk and are treated “humanely,” stating that he slaughters them within 60 seconds and that he does not purchase “three-leggers.” To clarify, Phoenix says that the cows at the facility are purchased to be murdered. DiMaria repeatedly requests that Phoenix use the euphemism “harvested” to describe the slaughter process, which the actor refuses to do. The group successfully removes the cow and calf—whom Phoenix named Liberty and Indigo, respectively—from the slaughterhouse and transports them to the Acton, CA location of Farm Sanctuary, where they will live together in peace alongside other rescued farmed animals. 

“I never thought I’d find friendship in a slaughterhouse, but meeting Anthony 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,” Phoenix said about the experience. “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.” 

The rescue is a real world example that illustrates animal cruelty Phoenix discussed on stage while accepting his Oscar for best actor during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards earlier this month. “We’ve become very disconnected from the natural world,” Phoenix said in his speech. “We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and when she gives birth, we steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. And then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and cereal.” Phoenix ended his Oscar acceptance speech with a quote from his late brother River Phoenix: “Run to the rescue with love—and peace will follow.” A photo of Indigo running in the field at Farm Sanctuary, overlaid with that same quote, was the final image Monson used in his video of the rescue.  


Liberty and Indigo are the fifth pair of mother cow and calf rescued by Los Angeles Animal Save—an organization with which Phoenix frequently attends vigils to bear witness to animals headed to slaughter.

Photo Credit: Shaun Monson

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