Rise of the Planet of the Apes triumphed, The Colbert Report’s satire hit the right comedic note, and Ellen DeGeneres outshone her talk show rivals to be among the 22 major wins at The Humane Society of the United States’ 26th Genesis Awards during the weekend.

Honoring the news and entertainment media for raising public awareness of animal issues, this year’s awards were presented at a gala ceremony on Saturday, March 24, at The Beverly Hilton, Beverly Hills, Calif. The event will premiere as a one-hour special on Animal Planet on May 5.

Hosted by Dancing with the Stars’ Carrie Ann Inaba, who opened the ceremony alongside Uggie, the show-stealing terrier from The Artist, The HSUS’ 26th Genesis Awards recognized Rise of the Planet of the Apes as Outstanding Feature Film for examining the ethics of using chimpanzees in medical research, and bestowed the Sid Caesar Comedy Award upon The Colbert Report – for the second year running – for offering a satirical twist on the whaling issue and a Utah legislator’s proposal to kill feral dogs and cats. The Ellen DeGeneres Show picked up Outstanding Talk Show for an informative interview with HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle about dogfighting and puppy mills.

From a rich field of documentaries and reality series, the Morgan Freeman-narrated IMAX documentary, Born to be Wild 3D, emerged as the winner of the Feature Documentary prize for its celebration of the people rehabilitating baby elephants and orangutans orphaned by poaching and habitat encroachment, Gordon Ramsay: Shark Bait snagged best TV Documentary for its fearless exposé of shark-finning, and Animal Planet Investigates: Captive Hunting Exposed received the Outstanding Reality Series award for pulling back the curtain on the so-called sport of “hunting” tame animals trapped in fenced pens.

In the world of broadcast news, ABC’s 20/20 was honored in the TV Newsmagazine category for exposing inhumane conditions at an egg factory farm; NBC Nightly News was recognized with the Outstanding National News award for multiple issues, including the fate of horses used by smugglers to cross the border, while the Morning News Show award went to NBC’s Jill Rappaport of TODAY for an inspiring series of reports on the dedicated rescuers of homeless pets.

In print and online journalism, the culturally influential Vanity Fair was given the nod for an extensive look at the escalating ivory trade decimating African elephants. McClatchy Newspapers was cited for a series of articles spotlighting the inhumane treatment of chimpanzees in scientific research, and The Atlantic.com clinched the Online Award for incisive reporting on the politics of wild horse management and round-ups. For a complete list of winners, go to humanesociety.org/genesis.

Deepak Chopra presented the annual Genesis Awards’ prestigious Wyler Award via video from New York to Ian Somerhalder, star of the hit series The Vampire Diaries, for spreading the word about critical animal issues via both traditional and social media platforms. Indian media icon Pritish Nandy was honored with the International Humanitarian Award for his work in advancing animal welfare in India and for championing the country’s beleaguered street dogs.

“We paid tribute to an amazing array of works that address animal protection concerns, but the real winners of The HSUS’s 26th Genesis Awards are the animals themselves, who rely on these invaluable voices to speak for them,” says Beverly Kaskey, senior director of The HSUS’s Hollywood Outreach program and executive producer of the annual Genesis Awards.

The HSUS’s 26th Genesis Awards celebrity presenters and attendees included Kaley Cuoco, Bill Maher, Colbie Caillat, Ke$ha, Jason Ritter, Sophia Bush, Kristin Bauer, John Bernthal, Rose McGowan, Wendie Malick, Moby, Cloris Leachman, Fiona Gubelmann, Penelope Ann Miller, Pauley Perrette, Michael Vartan, Wilmer Valderrama, and Uggie.

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