The Australian actor who once gave a voice to an animated movie dog is now speaking out on behalf of animals.
Hugo Weaving is the face of Voiceless, a new animal rights charity which will spend $100,000 a year funding projects to raise awareness of animal cruelty, culls, factory farming and experimentation.
After providing the voice of Rex the dog in the movie Babe, Weaving is again lending his voice and his name to the animals
"I’m passionate about the rights of animals so it was just natural to get involved," said Weaving, who performed in the Lord of the Rings and Matrix trilogies.
He has worked to support animal sanctuaries but, as a self-proclaimed animal lover, is passionate about all aspects of animal rights. "It’s an area where there is a lot of progress to be made," said Weaving, an owner of cats and turtles.
Also supporting the project is Nobel prize-winning author JM Coetzee. Voiceless, the brainchild of Sydney businessman Brian Sherman and his daughter Ondine, offers 10 annual grants of $20,000, $10,000 and $5,000 to schools, universities and not-for-profit groups.
Mr Sherman, a vegetarian, said the grants also would fund volunteer animal aid groups, most of which were not tax-deductible and which struggled to get support.
Projects may raise awareness of pig and hen farming, animals on quota culls and those subject to experimentation or vivisection. Education campaigns could, for example, highlight the benefits of buying free-range eggs.
"Our vision is to create a world where animals are treated with the compassion and respect they deserve," Mr Sherman said.
"Almost six million kangaroos are on quota to be killed each year but many Australians have no idea about this."
About 10 million battery hens never stretched their legs, saw the sun or felt the ground under their feet, he said.
© 2004 AAP