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Carrie Ann Inaba Hosts Humane Society Genesis Awards

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"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and "The Colbert Report" were among the big winners at the 26th Genesis Awards presented by the Humane Society of the United States in recognition of media presentations that raise awareness of animal issues.

"Planet of the Apes" was honored as the best feature film of 2011 "for examining the ethics of using chimpanzees in medical research." Colbert took the comedy award for the second straight year for what the Humane Society described as "a satirical twist on the whaling issue and a Utah legislator's proposal to kill feral dogs and cats."

Other winners included CBS' "Hawaii Five-0," PBS' "Sid the Science Kid," Nickelodeon's "Nick News With Linda Ellerbee," ABC's "20/20," NBC's "Today" and "The Ellen Degeneres Show."

Vampire Diaries star Ian Somerhalder was honored with the prestigious Wyler Award for his work in animal advocacy through the Ian Somerhalder Foundation. Past recipients of the award include Sir Paul McCartney, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, Hayden Panettiere, and Kristin Davis.

He said of the honor, "The tireless efforts of The Humane Society of the United States to protect animals around the world has always been an inspiration to me and I'm honored to be recognized with this year's Wyler Award." Another perk of the prize? Somerhalder got to walk the red carpet with the most famous dog of the year -- Uggie from The Artist.

Host Carrie Ann Inaba Shares Her Animal Advocacy Mentor

The ceremony, which will air May 5th on Animal Planet, was hosted by Dancing With the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba -- herself a tireless animal advocate, whose new adoption web show Crib Cat debuts March 26th.  With all of the amazing talent there who devote their time and attention to animals in need, we had to wonder: who is Carrie's advocacy mentor?

"I consider all my friends at the shelters my mentors," she told us. "But I will say I was inspired by Tippy Hedron. Since I was little. I wanted to grow up and have an animal sanctuary for all the animals to be safe. I was raised on an bird and wildlife sanctuary in Hawaii so I know first hand the value of this. I've been looking at land . . . and going one step at a time towards my dreams of helping as many animals as I can."

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