Joaquin Phoenix has urged a Florida ranch to free two bears who were the inspiration behind his film 'Brother Bear'.

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix

The 46-year-old actor and animal rights activist voiced a young boy called Kenai, who is turned into a bear after he killed one, in the 2003 Disney animation.

And the 'Joker' star has pleaded with The Bearadise Ranch to stop using Bruno and Bambi, who inspired Koda and Kenai, for entertainment and send them to “an accredited sanctuary".

In a letter obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, in which he shared the plight of the caged animals, Joaquin wrote: “These bears deserve better than a life on the road, where they are robbed of everything that’s natural and important to them, and if you put yourself in their place, I’m sure you’d see that, too.

“You know firsthand that bears are curious, complex animals who love to climb, dig, forage, and play. Their acute sense of smell and plate-sized paws evolved so that they could seek out mates and food across vast distances, but those carefully honed traits are wasted on the county fair circuit, where they’re relegated to transport cages when they’re not pulling hoops over their heads and carrying basketballs around in front of crowds of strangers.”

In 2020, the 'Her' star - who has been a vegan since the age of three and is a long-time supporter of PETA - rescued a cow and a calf just hours after his Oscars speech.

Joaquin - who won an Academy Award for Best Actor at the event - practiced what he preached at the ceremony by visiting a slaughterhouse just days later and liberating the bovine pair, and he named the mum Liberty and the youngster Indigo.

In a video shared by Farm Sanctuary - which has rescued thousands of animals and has cared for them at its sanctuaries in New York and California - he said: "I never thought I'd find friendship in a slaughterhouse, but meeting Anthony and opening my heart to his, I realise we might have more in common than we do differences.

"Without his act of kindness, Liberty and her baby calf, Indigo, would have met a terrible demise. Although we will continue to fight for the liberation of all animals who suffer in these oppressive systems, we must take pause to acknowledge and celebrate the victories, and the people who helped achieve them."

During part of his Oscars speech, Joaquin - who had also voiced his support for "plant-based" diets during his speech at the Golden Globes - referenced animal rights.

He told the audience: "We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and when she gives birth we steal her baby even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable and then we take her milk that's intended for her calf and we put in our coffee and our cereal."