Animal rights is something “The Vampire Diaries” star and environmentalist Ian Somerhalder has certainly found a cause he can sink his teeth into. The 35-year-old actor, recently named as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations’s Go Green program flew to Washington DC yesterday, where he spoke in front of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs during a Congressional hearing on banning trade in elephant ivory, which has been responsible for the decimation of herds in the wild. For example, the Wildlife Conservation Fund reported that the seizure of more than 23 metric tons of ivory in 2011 alone represented the death of 2,500 African elephants. Other animals also in jeopardy due to poaching are walruses, narwhals and rhinos.
Born and raised in Covington, LA, Ian represented his own Somerhalder Foundation (launched on his 32nd birthday December 8, 2010) while on Capital Hill. At the time the time of the launch he had announced that it was his goal to help “educate people on the importance of protecting the environment and animals.
"Instead of gifts this year, my birthday wish is that we come together and raise funds to support projects that protect our habitat and nurture our furry friends,” he stated at the time.
It should also be noted that the actor took an active role during the cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on April 22, 2010. His efforts included cleaning of oiled wildlife and taping public service announcements to let the public know how they could help. Somerhalder also supports the St. Tammany Humane Society, an organization for animal shelter and welfare. On November 13, 2010, he hosted a Bash on the Bayou charity fundraiser for the Society. During the event, Somerhalder was presented with a donation of $11,100 by The Vampire Diaries fans for his “birthday project.”