Whole Life Magazine

April/May 2013

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Page 25 of 43

AnIMAl InStInCtS It's okay—CSI star Jorja Fox wants to talk about the elephant in the room T By Jen Jones donatelli he setting: Denver International Airport. The time: 4 a.m. The scene: CSI star Jorja Fox is anxiously awaiting an important arrival—a pride of 25 lions liberated from illegal Bolivian circuses. Their eventual destination? Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colo. It's all part of an ambitious rescue effort spearheaded by Animal Defenders International (ADI), a Los Angeles-based nonproit that advocates for animals in entertainment and other needed areas. This scene isn't just a highlight of the upcoming documentary Lion Ark, but a familiar scenario from Fox's off-screen life. When not shooting CSI, the passionate actress has been an active part of ADI for more than ive years, and she says her involvement has been an adventure every step of the way. Fox's journey with ADI irst began when president Jan Creamer called her "out of the blue" to get involved with one of ADI's irst U.S.-based campaigns: an effort to pass a traveling exotic animal ban in Austin, Texas. In 2008, Fox traveled to Austin to present shocking footage of elephant cruelty by well-known circuses—and she's been an avid ambassador ever since. "Now that a lot of these animals are born in captivity, people think they were born to do this and that we're not pulling them out of the wild, but they're still coming through the black market," she explains. "These are the great predators of the globe— elephants being the strongest land mammal on earth. There's no way to train these animals to do the tricks required of them without deprivation or a certain brutality. If we were really aware, we wouldn't want to support [circuses] anymore." Last November, Fox and ADI took their efforts to Washington, D.C., where she and famed The Price is Right host Bob Barker appeared before Congress. Their purpose was to introduce the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act (TEAPA), a bill that would amend the Animal Welfare Act to severely limit the use of wild and exotic animals in traveling circuses. "Any day spent with Bob Barker is a pretty fun way to save the day," jokes Fox, who is still hopeful, though the bill hasn't yet been passed. "Progress can be very slow and it can be frustrating, but I do feel that there has been a tipping point and we're moving forward." For Fox, the work has been a welcome culmination of a lifelong love of animals and the environment. Animal welfare is something she's been 26 JorjaFox.indd 26 acutely aware of since her childhood in Western Florida—not far from where Ringling Brothers then had its headquarters in Venice, Fla. "I remember being eight or nine years old and getting on the back of an elephant; right away, I realized that, for me, there was something really not right about it," she remembers. "That's my only real memory of being at the circus, and my family never returned. If you talk to kids, I think you'd be surprised at how many of them say it makes them uncomfortable or sad or angry. We're all evolving beyond the idea of animals as quick entertainment." The fragile ecosystem of her surroundings also informed Fox's views. Having grown up close to the ocean and the Everglades, Fox recalls that "people had to live in peace with the natural world to sustain themselves. Everyone who lived there needed to be aware of the environment around them, which was easy because it's an incredibly beautiful place. My love for animals and the environment go hand in hand—it's hard to separate the two." Today, Fox is able to nurture that passion here in California by visit- wholelifetimesmagazine.com 3/27/13 9:53 AM

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