“I live with six cats, two dogs, a rabbit, a turtle, 12 fish and a less-known but adorable Australian marsupial, the sugar glider.
“Except for the fish and sugar glider, they were all rescued, mainly from abandoned houses, lanes and shops,” said beauty queen-turned-actress Thanuja Ananthan, 32.
While kindness to animals was instilled in Thanuja by her parents, she has always gone the extra mile to rescue abandoned animals.
The Miss Malaysia 2009 winner said she used to feed and pick up stray kittens while following her mother to their neighbourhood wet market when she was 5.
And when she was 10, she rescued a litter of puppies at an abandoned house in their street.
“This habit continues till adulthood.
“At first, my parents used to scold me for bringing animals home, but they accepted this ‘flaw’ in me,” said the “angel” for animals.
“I learnt to put up my furry friends for adoption, something which I still do till today,” she said at the launch of ntv7’s new line-up of dramas in Sungai Buloh recently.
“One of my dogs, Kaya, was a victim of abuse and its tail was badly burnt when I found it.
“As for the cats, when I found them, they were malnourished and some had injuries, but I nursed them back to health with the help of veterinarians.”
Thanuja hopes to raise more awareness about caring for animals through her acting.
“I hope there will be a role of a superhero who rescues animals with her powers, putting out a message to be compassionate to abandoned animals.
“There’s no better way to show my caring of animals than joining showbiz. I remember how in the early 1990s, American cartoon ecological superhero Captain Planet made youngsters environmentally conscious.”
She showed her commitment to animals’ wellbeing when she became the ambassador of HELP Matriculation Centre’s AniHELP campaign, which opposed cruelty to animals, two years ago.
When asked about upcoming projects, Thanuja said she would appear as a bone cancer patient in ntv7 drama Nafas, alongside Singaporean actor Erwin Dawson, in May.
“It’s a challenging role, but one in my wish list. My character, Trish, is tomboyish, but once she’s ill, she becomes fragile and emotional.”
She had her first screen role in Temuan Takdir two years ago, where she played the girlfriend of one of the villains.