One day after Joaquin Phoenix criticized the dairy industry in his best actor Oscars acceptance speech, the Joker star and his collaborators rescued a cow and her newborn calf from a slaughterhouse in Pico Rivera, California.
Phoenix, 45, met with Anthony Di Maria, the president and CEO of an unspecified slaughterhouse, on February 10, as seen in a video uploaded to YouTube on Thursday, February 20. The two express opposing views in the clips — with Phoenix objecting to Di Maria saying the cows will be “harvested” — but Di Maria assures the actor that his company doesn’t separate or slaughter the bovine mothers and babies.
Di Maria also lets Phoenix leave with the cow, Liberty, and the week-old calf, Indigo, and the Oscar winner accompanies the animals to the 26-acre Farm Sanctuary Southern California Shelter in Acton, California. According to its website, Farm Sanctuary rescues, rehabilitates and provides lifelong care “for hundreds of animals who have been saved from stockyards, factory farms and slaughterhouses.”
In a statement in the YouTube video’s description, Phoenix celebrates finding common ground with Di Maria. “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,” he wrote. “Without his act of kindness, Liberty and her baby calf, Indigo, would have met a terrible demise. Although we will continue to fight for the liberation of all animals who suffer in these oppressive systems, we must take pause to acknowledge and celebrate the victories, and the people who helped achieve them.”
He continued: “Liberty and Indigo will never experience cruelty or the touch of a rough hand. … 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.”
In his Oscar acceptance speech, Phoenix promoted environmentalism and animal rights. “We go into the natural world and plunder it for its resources. 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 our cereal. And I think we fear the idea of personal change because we think that we have to sacrifice something, to give something up. But human beings at our best are so creative and inventive and ingenious, and I think that when we use love and compassion as our guiding principles, we can create, develop and implement systems of changes that are beneficial to all sentient beings and the environment.”