The Ark Trust’s Genesis Awards
Now that the whole Y2K frenzy is behind us, we can take a deep breath, and drop all this apocalyptic talk for good. Instead, let’s
celebrate the Fourteenth Annual Genesis Awards, which recognize outstanding individuals in the major news and entertainment media who have spotlighted animal issues in their works with courage, creativity, and integrity.
By honoring people who use the media to promote animal rights and welfare, The Ark Trust, the nonprofit organization that administers the Genesis Awards, hopes to further raise public consciousness of animal rights and animal welfare issues. The Ark Trust honors representatives of the major media and artistic communities because they hold the key to raising awareness, influencing attitudes, and changing behavior with regard to animal-protection issues.
The Ark Trust is an optimistic organization. Its members see a world that is awakening to the rights of animals. They feel the best way to foster this process is to publicly acknowledge and affirm the pro-animal work of some of the most visible members of society. The Genesis Awards are named for the book in the Bible which tells the story of Noah and the Ark — the first documented “news report” of an animal rescue. Genesis is also the word for “beginning,” as in the start of a new respect for the rights of all animals. The first Genesis Awards were bestowed in 1986 by Gretchen Wyler, then under the aegis of Cleveland Amory’s organization.
In 1991, Wyler
founded The Ark Trust, which took over the administration of the Genesis Awards from The Fund for Animals. Adhering to the motto, “Cruelty can’t stand the spotlight,” The Ark Trust emphasizes positive actions. The organization collects and evaluates media works from all of the materials printed or released in the calendar year in order to determine the winners.
The Ark Trust also takes direct action on animal-protection issues by working on Select Activist Projects. These projects are chosen based on their ability to help animals and generate publicity, while also influencing public opinion and creating change. Past projects include working with a national television newsmagazine to expose the horrors of the greyhound racing industry and creating the Red Alert Program, which helps animal shelters streamline adoption procedures. Red Alert has been “adopted” by the city and county shelters in Los Angeles and in Austin, Texas.
The Genesis Awards and The Ark Trust were both created by Gretchen Wyler, a distinguished television actress and former Broadway star.
She began her lifetime dedication to animal rights in 1966, when she visited a dog shelter in Warwick, N.Y. After she discovered the terrible condition of the facility, she didn’t just bemoan the fact — she immediately vowed to “do something.” Two years later, the actress opened a new, greatly improved Warwick Animal Shelter.
When her role in the Broadway show “Sly Fox” led her to Los Angeles in 1978, she continued her animal advocacy on that coast. In 1979, she initiated work on a Resolution of Animal Rights. It was passed the same year, making California the first state in the nation to adopt such a resolution. Wyler also successfully led the fight to repeal “pound seizure” — the sale of shelter cats and dogs for medical research.
The Fourteenth Annual Genesis Awards will be given out on March 18, 2000. Look for the televised ceremony on “Animal Planet” in May.
For more information visit the Ark Trust’s Web site at w.arktrust.org.