Eric Roberts Speaks Out About Animal Cruelty, ADI, His Squirrel Sanctuary [VIDEO EXCLUSIVE]
Eric Roberts has been busy. The hard-working actor can be found in movies and shows like The Dark Knight and Grey’s Anatomy, but off the screen, Roberts works just as hard for a noble cause – stopping animal cruelty.
In an exclusive discussion with uInterview, Roberts said about animals, “They always have had a place in my heart. Simple as that.”
Roberts has teamed up recently with Animal Defenders International to protect the rights of animals around the world. The group has been fighting to end the use of exotic animals during circus performances, something Roberts knows about personally.
“I was a circus boy. I went to the circus every year, it was a big deal,” said Roberts. “Then I became interested in the elephants: Where do they go? How do they live? How do they travel? And I just became aware of it.”
Not only has he teamed up with ADI, but Roberts has worked hard to end animal cruelty in nearly every way he can.
About 20 years ago, Roberts rescued a squirrel that he had found injured on his property. After taking the animal to the local ASPCA, he was asked if they could return the squirrel to Robert’s property once it had recovered – Robert’s big trees are a haven for squirrels.
“So what has happened is that we now have a squirrel sanctuary. We have all the squirrels without tails, without ears, without paws…So we have a bunch of pirate squirrels that live in our squirrel sanctuary,” Roberts said, laughing. “And I’m very proud of that.”
ADI FIGHTS TO END CRUELTY TO CIRCUS ANIMALS
ADI is in support of the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act, a bill that was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on March 28. The bill aims to end the use of exotic animals during circus performances in front of a live audience.
“You can be kind to animals and work with animals,” Roberts said on the recent closure of the Ringling Bros. Circus. “There’s a way to do it. There’s a way to do anything with kindness.”
TEAPSPA, the exotic animal bill, was first introduced by Representatives Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Ryan Costello (R-PA) and has support from a handful of celebrities including Bob Barker, Danny Boyle and Roberts. The bill is currently up for debate in committee.
I was a circus boy. I went to the circus every year, it was a big deal. Then I became interested about the elephants; what do they do, where do they go, how do they live, how do they travel. Then I became aware of it, it became weird. It became not a nice place to be necessarily. What about the cats? What do they do? How do they travel? And I just became aware of it. It always became a not happy thing for me. About the time I understood that, I saw the movie 'The Greatest Show on Earth' with the great train wreck. I was very moved by all of the animals who got away after the train wreck. It was a bunch of things. It just brought me into a child's awareness of circus animals, which I always maintained. They always had a place in my heart. Simple as that.
My wife said here is a video that I can't watch but I think you can and she played it for me. That's how I started.
There is a way to do both, but they didn't care. They wanted to have either the old way or no way, and that's what happened. They could have had a new way that was innovative and kind to animals and everything else but they didn't choose to do that so they closed. There's a way to do it, you can be kind to animals and work with animals. You don't have to beat them to tell them what to do, as it were. There's a way to do it. There is a way to anything with kindness. The Beatles said it best, 'All you need is love.'
We have everything! From horses to kitties. What I am most proud of is almost 20 years ago now, we saved a squirrel. The ASPCA that we took it to said, "May we come see your yard," and when they got here they said, "Oh, you have big trees, when the squirrels get well may we let them go here on your property," and we said "Of course!" So what has happened is that we have a squirrel sanctuary. And we have all the squirrels without tails, without ears, without paws... but they all eat out of our hands. So we have a bunch of pirate squirrels that live in our squirrel sanctuary. And I'm very proud of that.