Ricky Gervais receives HSI’s first Cecil Award

By on November 12, 2018 with 9 Comments

Three years ago, the American public roared in outrage upon learning of the killing of a beloved lion, Cecil, by an American trophy hunter. As terrible as that killing was, it was also a watershed moment for animal welfare – one that created a global furor against this senseless “sport” that’s dominated by wealthy Americans who use foreign lands as their playgrounds and reduce endangered and threatened animals to decorations for their homes.

One of the most prominent voices heard globally after the killing of Cecil was that of Ricky Gervais, the Golden Globe and Emmy winning comedian, actor and director who has long been a friend of all animals and who has partnered with us on many platforms at the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, including dog adoption, ending the fur trade, animal testing for cosmetics, the international dog meat trade, and the exploitation of animals for entertainment such as bullfighting.

“I am struggling to imagine anything more beautiful than this,” Ricky tweeted, alongside a photograph of Cecil alive and well, signalling his sadness soon after the news of the killing went viral. In other contexts, Ricky has explained his dedication this way: “I speak for animals because they don’t have a voice.”

Ricky Gervais’s voice has reached out over the years to his millions of fans over social media and through the media, elevating the work we do in raising global awareness about trophy hunting. Photo by Amy Sussman/AP Images for the HSUS

Over the years, following news of trophy hunts, including, more recently, the killing of a family of baboons in Namibia by an Idaho fish and game commission official, Ricky’s voice has continued to reach out to his millions of fans over social media and through the media, elevating the work we do in raising global awareness about trophy hunting, moblizing the shock and outrage felt by millions in reaction to news about trophy hunts, and adding to the momentum to ending it for good.

On Friday, it was my honor to present this remarkable supporter of our cause with Humane Society International’s first Cecil Award at the HSUS “To the Rescue!” annual gala in New York City. The award recognizes Ricky’s global advocacy against trophy hunting, and his outspoken, heartfelt crusades for so many animal issues.

Also a top honoree at this year’s gala was the luxury fashion brand Gucci, which received the Corporate Consciousness Award for showing that a highly successful company can take a stand against cruelty in its manufacturing policies.

When Gucci announced it was going fur-free last year, it was a pathbreaking moment for the fashion world: by shedding a product that results in the cruel killing of a hundred million animals each year, Gucci increased its appeal to the next generation of consumers who care about animals, while showing the fashion industry that fur was no longer fashionable. In the year since we have seen a cascade of fur-free announcements from a number of major names in fashion, including Coach, Michael Kors, Diane von Furstenberg and Burberry.

This year’s HSUS Innovator award was presented to fashion blogger and Humane Generation New York committee member Katie Sturino and, posthumously, her dog Toast. Toast, over the course of her life, made a huge difference for animals, from helping educate the public about the reality of puppy mills, to promoting adoption, to raising critical funds that benefit our mission. We are grateful to Katie for leveraging Toast’s audience in social media to make a positive impact and inspire other donors and dog lovers to step up their support of our work. Toast’s campaign with the Shelter Pet Project — a joint effort of the HSUS, Maddie’s Fund and the Ad Council — helped lead to more than 500,000 searches for adoptable pets on the Shelter Pet Project’s website.

The gala, chaired this year by Georgina Bloomberg and hosted by Tony-winning actress and singer Sutton Foster, supports the advocacy and hands-on work that the HSUS and HSI do for the rescue, care, placement and potential rehoming of tens of thousands of animals each year, including animals suffering in puppy mills, dogfighting rings, large-scale neglect cases and natural disasters.

Other attendees at the gala included Rob Thomas, Moby, Erich Bergen, Carole Radziwill and Loretta Swit.

There is still a long road ahead in achieving a world where all animals are treated with compassion. The fight against trophy hunting, in particular, has become tougher over the past two years, with the U.S. Department of the Interior loosening hard-won restrictions on trophy imports and attempts in Congress to whittle down Endangered Species Act protections. But there is also much to celebrate as we did the other night, and today we are back at work in our mission to protect all animals. With prominent individuals like Ricky Gervais and our other gala attendees, dedicated supporters and donors, and successful businesses understanding and embracing our cause, the wind is at our backs.

Companion Animals, Humane Society International, Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Brian O'Neill says:

    Ricky Gervais is our hero. We love him. He has been hilarious on the Golden Globes show, but his work for animals is as serious as a heart attack. Good on you, Ricky.

  2. Robert Spratt says:

    “Cecil the Lion” by Robert Spratt

    Walter Palmer is a Jekyll and Hyde.
    On the one hand a doctor, but a sadist inside.
    He’s a smiley dentist who fixes your teeth,
    but you’d never imagine the dark side beneath.

    In short, he’s a killer, who slaughters for fun.
    It makes him feel manly to kill with his gun.
    He loves to see victims appear in his sights
    and squeezing the trigger and snuffing out life.

    Most can’t imagine what goes through the mind
    of a killer of one, let alone, serial kind.
    But for Walter, it’s easy. He’s now killed so many
    that, what’s one more victim? Why stop while there’s any?

    It sounds like you can’t get more sicker than this
    but here’s where the story now takes a twist.
    You’d think that we’d cage him or have him committed,
    but his murderous ways are mostly permitted.

    Forgetting the time when he lied to the court,
    his murderous ways are allowed under law.
    He signs a few papers and pay lots of cash
    then he can add all the heads that he wants to his stash.

    You see, Walt’s a hunter, so the goalposts get moved.
    He’s allowed to kill things that have claws, paws or hooves.
    As long as it hasn’t got feet, like a man,
    he’s pretty much licensed to kill what he can.

    Sure, there are limits to what he can do,
    but limits mean nothing to Walt and his crew.
    They’ll happily bend all the rules if they must;
    whatever it takes to indulge their bloodlust.

    And what is the worst that can happen? A fine?
    Pft! A small price to pay for having such a good time.
    Besides, when you’re rich and have all you can buy,
    what else is there possibly left you can try?

    Of course, that’s not serious. I’m having a laugh.
    There’s plenty of rich who don’t crave a bloodbath.
    One, for example, is Ricky Gervais.
    Now there is a man who’d put Walt in his place.

    Ricky’s renown for the love and respect
    he shows for all creatures. He can’t stand neglect.
    He’s always campaigning, and makes issues trend.
    Ricky, for sure, is the animal’s friend.

    Now, compare that with Walter, with his opposite views.
    He thinks that animals are there to abuse.
    He’s only happy when he’s made sure one’s dead,
    so then he can skin it and cut off its head.

    So, do I vote Ricky, with his caring brain?
    or, do I vote Walter, who’s border insane?
    It’s a no-brainer for me because animals matter.
    So, Walter or Ricky? Of course, it’s the latter.

    Thank you, dear Ricky, for devoting your time
    to fight for the voiceless. You’re a hero of mine.
    For all that you do, and if I had my way,
    you’d be jumping the queue and we’d knight you today.

    But Walt says it’s natural, the way he behaves;
    that it comes from a time when we all lived in caves.
    Is that what it is? Has the problem been solved?
    Did poor Walter’s brain just never evolve?

    While mankind’s advanced, e.g. trips into space,
    poor Walter is still firmly stuck in one place.
    He thinks he’s a caveman, is how it appears,
    from a long time ago, about 2 million years.

    I should be amazed he can function at all;
    that his limit’s not hunting or else drawing on walls.
    Perhaps it’s a miracle that he can even talk
    and use sophisticated tools like a knife and a fork.

    But hunting is probably what Walter’s dad did.
    So, Walt learned from dad what he’ll now teach his kids.
    Often, bad habits are just handed down;
    the cycle’s not broken so it keeps going round.

    Walter might say it’s not about killing at all.
    It’s more about trophies and the heads on his wall.
    As long as there’s someone who’s beating his score,
    then the incentive is there to just keep killing more.

    But I don’t really care what makes Walter tick.
    It simply might be that he’s got a small dick.
    If you’re looking for reasons then there really are none.
    You don’t torture animals and then kill them for fun.

    But karma’s a bitch and for all past abuse,
    Walt’s suddenly found himself in the news.
    He broke rule number one of the hunting game,
    which is: “Don’t kill an animal that’s been given a name”.

    On his last trip, he butchered a lion called Cecil.
    A fatal mistake because Cecil was special.
    The public adored him. He was more like a pet.
    And by murdering Cecil, Walt’s fate was set.

    He went to the park where Cecil would roam
    and by using some bait he lured him from his home.
    But that’s not allowed so as Cecil was approaching,
    what started as hunting then turned into poaching.

    The next crime committed was how Cecil was shot.
    You see, a bullet’s allowed but an arrow is not.
    But with a bow and an arrow and a playing card,
    Walter will skewer it from a 100 yards.

    So it’s very obvious that a man with such skill
    would think: “Arrows in cards? Why, when I can use them to kill”.
    So he raised up his bow, and after doing some checks,
    he plunged a bolt deep into poor Cecil’s neck.

    But it seems that Walt wasn’t as good as he claimed,
    because he didn’t kill Cecil, instead he was maimed.
    For 40+ hours, Cecil wandered the plains
    with a bolt in his neck and in insufferable pain.

    But for compassionless Walter, it just made his day
    to see Cecil suffering while his life ebbed away.
    But as Cecil got slower, and it stopped being fun,
    Walter just finished him off with his gun.

    When it was over and Cecil was dead,
    Walt noticed a collar, while severing the head.
    It was clearly a tracking device that he saw,
    which meant just one thing; he’d just broken the law.

    So what could the manly-man Walter now do?
    Of course, as with Cecil, destroy the GPS, too.
    If the tracker’s not working, then there’s nothing to face
    and he can hop on a plane and get out of that place.

    But karma caught up and Walter ran out of time
    because the tracking device was still working just fine.
    But because Walt had gone, so couldn’t be confronted
    Walter the hunter became Walter the hunted.

    And thanks to the web and the technology age,
    the whole world was soon incandescent with rage.
    The message went viral about what Walt had done
    and he quickly became public enemy number one.

    He shut down his business and went underground.
    He stopped taking calls and he couldn’t be found.
    But then came a statement that he’d nicely rehearsed;
    a statement so hollow that it just made things worse.

    He claimed that he thought he’d respected all laws,
    but he knows that’s not true and his statement was flawed.
    When he lured Cecil away from his home in the park,
    he knew he shouldn’t have done that, for a start.

    And then there’s the arrow he put in the big cat.
    He knew that he wasn’t supposed to do that.
    And, destroying the tracker, just doesn’t make sense
    unless he was trying to hide evidence.

    So, Walter, it’s over, it’s all gone too far.
    It’s time to be the man that you think that you are.
    You need to face justice and face up to the fact
    that you really must pay for the judgment you lacked.

    The very first thing that I think you should do,
    when it comes to the hunting, is to say that your through.
    Just say it’s behind you, that you won’t kill any more,
    and the hate you now feel will undoubtedly thaw.

    But why not go further and see things in new light;
    be a campaigner for lions and fight for their rights.
    If you did that, you just watch the pendulum swing.
    You’d no longer be Satan, but a revered Lion King.

    And then you can go back to the life that you knew.
    The one where you’re happy, and your family are, too.
    And instead of being thought of as a national disgrace,
    you’ll truly be the man to put a smile on a face.

    So, while this tale’s sad and it’s filled with much pain.
    It now seems, at least, that Cecil didn’t die in vain.
    They’re banning trophy hunting and calling it “Cecil’s Law”.
    And if Walt does his bit, then we couldn’t ask for more.

    RIP Cecil.

  3. Abigail Barry says:

    Many many congratulations to Ricky on this wonderful achievement… he makes so many people stand n listen and by doing this, publicises the disgusting and downright cowardly act of taking innocent lives. Amazing man. Greatly deserved.

  4. Stephen Hopkins says:

    Much deserved it sounds to me……

  5. Carol Abrook says:

    Thankyou Ricky Gervais & to all the animal saviours in this cruel world.
    It is a privilege to have animals on our planet & for those people intent on wiping out every species of animal, the punishment should fit the crime. Get rid of animal abusers & trophy hunters.
    I support everything you do to give animals the right not to suffer. Your award is well deserved & I’m sure it won’t be your last.

  6. Kittie says:

    I love the way he is so modest in the video at the end of your post. Once again we see how much a Big Player can do for a cause. He may not feel he does a lot, but he does! He could be silent like so many others. Ricky Gervais, thank you for speaking up and thanks to the HSI for recognizing his contributions.

    Kittie from http://www.crueltyfreebuty.com

  7. Jacqui McKnight says:

    Thank you Ricky for being the Voice for the Voiceless and an animal rights activist. Lets get louder every day. Animals count.

  8. Mary Bolda says:

    I congratulate Ricky Gervais. I have long admired him as a actor, comedian, most of all his new voice for animals. I stopped eating veal years so ago once I saw how the calves we’re raised. Now that Greyhound racing is banned in Florida, we will have the task of finding furever home’s for them. I know that my measly $5.00 a month is helping the animals of the world.

  9. Fay khoury says:

    Thank you animals need people to speak for them they give us so much in return and ask for nothing but love and to be treated kindly we need to come together and stop all abuse and senless killings wake up please we need to do better animals deserve better thank you for your kindness towards animals they make our world a better place

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