The Barbi Twins Remodeling Their Lives To Help Animals...One Day At A Time
By Lori Golden, The Pet Press
Shane and Sia Barbi, aka The Barbi Twins, first shot to fame in the mid 90's when they graced the cover of two of Playboy's top selling issues.  They also had a hand in the multimillion0dollar calendar business with four worldwide #1 selling calendars, which helped make them household names.  They're blonde and beautiful, so surely they must be a couple of air-headed bimbos, right?  WRONG!  Nothing could be further from the truth.

"Everything about us is a paradox," says Sia.  "We are famous for being agoraphobic.  We were tomboys who hated pictures.  We got famous from our sexy centerfolds yet we have eating disorders and body image problems, but we still became models.  We're actually just a couple of frauds."

But when it comes to animals, they say they're the real deal!  Something I can attest to from first-hand knowledge.

Shane Barbi first contacted me a couple of years ago when she was concerned about a local rescue group with which she was a volunteer.  "It really started with our getting into health. (They were bulimic.) And then we got into recovery.  And part of recovery was honesty and charity.  So what better thing can we do than to be honest and sincere about our passion and to do our charity with animals?  We're trying to make a difference, but you can drive yourself crazy with animal causes."

So two years ago Shane started doing hands-on volunteer work with animals rather than just donate.  "I became a little obsessed and went to a certain rescue, every day, seven days a week, seven hours a day.  Even holidays.  I was glad to get an insight into the rescue world.  It was a rude awakening.  I saw for every animal I helped adopt out and socialize - there was so much to do - three more animals would come in.  It just seemed like an endless problem.  These people had good intentions but they were unable to step outside to look at the bigger picture."

 View The Pet Press Article Pages 1 2 3 (large image files)

"And then when Katrina came I saw it on a bigger scale.  I saw companies profiting off the problems."  (And I heard about it through the many emails Shane sent out during the whole Katrina animal fiasco.)

"Most of the organizations here are old school," Shane continues.  "What's the definition of insanity?  It's repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  We're not improving,  There is one man who I absolutely love - Nathan Winograd (  He really took every angle that I dissected myself before I even discovered him through your article about him.  I would like to see a No Kill nation.  I saw that the bigger organizations that were good at lobbying were not hands on.  I was not too sure if they had the God given right to put an animal down.  I just thought that was very controversial.  But then I saw the other extreme - did an animal really have a quality of life living in a cage?  And what was the percentage?  The percentages I found to be true of adoptions is less than 1% for a cat to be adopted and less than 10% for a dog.  So I thought most of these animals will either be killed or live a horrible life in a cage, and I saw them losing hope.  Their personalities disappeared.  I liked how Nathan stressed behavior, handling, exercise, getting creative with foster care, mobile adoptions, getting honest people that were really into it, not just people good at business.  I just like what he has to say."

While the goal of a No Kill nation still looms in the distance, the Barbi Twins have been striving towards this utopian plan for animals all their lives.  Their youth was very much like The Parent Trap because they grew up separately but spent summers and holidays together in Malibu.  Sia grew up on her father's Malibu ranch while Shane lived with her mother in Arizona, New Mexico and San Diego, where they were actually born.  But their fondest memories were being together in Malibu.  They were seven years old when they were separated, because they were so close their parents "wanted us to have our own healthy identities."

One of those "twin things" was that they both wanted to be veterinarians and work with animals.  And their fondest memories involving animals when they were growing up were "bringing little presents and treats on holidays to all the little animals in shelters," Sia says.

"Yeah, holidays would not be ok with us unless we brought treats to the animals," Shane chimes in.  "We usually did this separately, but we'd always tell each other."

"We knew our feelings for animals were different from other people.  When  I saw The Ten Commandments I watched the Red Sea come in and I was expecting the horses to come up and they didn't.  I couldn't stop crying," explains Shane.  "I remember writing God a letter asking why are you so mean to animals?  Why do they have such a bad life?  I saw that I had more feelings than other people and they would call me a fanatic."

"In high school we tried to supress these feelings, but we surrounded ourselves with animals.  I rode horses and would be in horse shows; I raised Dobermans; I was in 4H.  I loved them being around me," Shane says.  "But the extreme empathy we had for animals was always there.   We would steal animals from schools because we didn't like them in cages and we would set them free at Will Rogers State Park.  We wanted to see an animal have freedome and felt that in a cage they were unhappy."

The twins never went to the same school, explains Sia.  "We targeted any place that had an animal because we felt that animals should not be used by people in classes or for demonstrations.  We just had to liberate them.  We were pretty radical."

At age seven they also began modeling when they posed for a layout in the Sears mail-order catalog.  "Around the horse world," Sia says, "there are a lot of people who model.  So we thought, instead of just working with the horses, we might as well do some modeling to make money to help the horses.  We always got the lame horses and never rode them.  We figured why buy the perfect horse when the imperfect one was going to be dog food pretty soon."

While Shane was raising Dobermans, Sia was into all aspects regarding horses.  "I did dressage, and I was really into working with thoroughbred horses from the racetracks, making them into runners and jumpers.  We were both really into horses.  But where we separate is that I do believe that we should somewhat trian horses because I hear nightmare stories that if they aren't handled they hurt themselves."

"I say leave them free to run in the hills," injects Shane.  "I believe that animals have the right to live in harmony in their own nature.  I'm anti-zoo, always have been.  Anti-circus, Anti-exotic animals as pets."

"I raised and bred Dobermans for shows, which included ear cropping.  I'm not proud of that," continues Shane.  "We did everything bad."

"But it feels like when you get into the purebreds," interrupts Sia, "you're saying that the mutts are not good enough.  And that's why we're completely, 100% into the mutts now.  We embrace the imperfections, the older dogs."

"And our favorite dog show these days is Nuts for Mutts," Shane says.  In fact, Bobby Dorafshar and New Leash on Life is one of their favorite organizations.

Growing up they had lots of favorite animals, but it was always the underdog.  "We had a crippled mouse named George.  Whatever animal was the most abused, the most hated, ...we even had a pet rat that was very smart.  We also had 19 guinea pigs we kept stealing from schools.  But our favorite was a stray cat we brought home named Nat the Cat.  He was this Mancoon who stood up and sat like a dog to beg for food.  And like a dog, he would drop a ball for you to throw and then go fetch it.  He would eat watermelon with us and loved fruit!! Nat was the love of our life who we had for 12 years.  We never cried so hard as when he died of old age, at 14."

Currently the twins' homes are revolving doors for animals.  Sia, who is single, has three kitties and one dog, all rescues.  "They will always be mine if I can't find a home for them.  I know there is one that is very unadoptable.  Her name is Meanest.  And the dog is Dinky (who shares the cover photo with the twins.)  But I'm not sure if he has a permanent home yet.  He was found on the freeway and looked like he was ten years old, but he's really only about a year old."

Shane, who's married to Ken Wahl from TV's Wiseguy, fosters lots of kittens, but also has three of her own - Thumper, Nelly and Cutest.

Despite their agoraphobia, The Barbi Twins are getting gout more to attend animal events in support of their favorite organizations.  They are big fans of Much Love whose fundraiser they recently attended in Malibu.  "They help us with our foster animals", says Shane.

They "absolutely love the Feral Cat Alliance and Christi Metropole.  She's fantastic.  We do cat Trap - Neuter - RElease with her and we have feral cat colonies with her."

"We also love The Paw Project and Dr. Jenny Conrad.  We're doing a documentary called Cat Fight on the cruel amputation of declawing.  One of my cats, Nelly, is declawed and crippled, and a lot of these animals end up back at the shelter or just loose, which is worse."

"And our favorite group, and the one that offers a standard of living that all animals deserve is Best Friends.  They took a lot of our Katrina animals that we rescued.  We took many trips to the gulf Coast because our mother was in Mississippi.  We were helping her....but mostly the animals."

The Barbi Twins have written books and articles, including a few that have appeared in The Pet Press.  And they have a number of projects in the works, including a documentary feature film they are associate producing that explores the differences between animal welfare and animal rights, due out in Spring, 2007.

They are also finishing production on a one-hour Rescue Reality show for VHI that is non-political.  It's a day in the life of rescue with The Barbi Twins, and includes people like Kim Bassinger, Joss Stone, and Gloria Estevan.

And then there is their book, Rescuism vs. Rescue, showing how "Rescuism" (a word they have coined) is a disease, "and how people get obsessed in the movement and lose focus from the animals.  The main theme is to stop this cult-like environment that we're seeing everywhere."

The largest project they are working on is a live concert called Animal Aid, to bring global awareness to the plight of animals and the environment.  Modeled after Live Aid, they are working with Willie Nelson and his daughter Amy who bring their expertise from the many Farm Aid concerts they've produced.

Because they ARE The Barbi Twins, they are able to get publicity in various mainstream media, from appearances on Howard Stern's radio show to their most recent stint with Bill O'Reilly, trying to explain the ridiculous controversy over the Hooters Bikini Contest.  But they don't do these things to promote themselves, (it's the last thing they'd do.)  Instead it's to talk about various animal issues.

The Barbi Twins, actually Shane, thinks nothing of picking up the phone and calling someone when she sees an injustice going on.  "not only does she speak her mind," Sia says, "but she doesn't have an agenda.  If someone says that we do these thins for press, then they just don't know us."

They also send emails and letters to alert people to injustices going on.  "My sister also gives me phon numbers every day to call about various issues.  Every day we try to make a difference.  Whenever people say 'oh, you'll never change the way things are being done,' I'm so driven with what I do that day I'm just deaf to what they say.  It IS making a difference.  I can only do what I can do today, and that's all that matters."

Sia makes the calls and Shane sends out the emails.  "We make a pretty good team.  It's non-stop all day long."  They've called the White House so many times "they probably blocked our phone numbers."

"There's always a way of doing something to contribute to animals, no matter how small it is," says Sia.  "Whether you want to protest or boycott something...even if you want to be a vegan or if you want to volunteer for some charity, there's always somethig we can do."

"Everyone should, somehow, participate in their local shelter, because you can save a life," adds Shane.  "I can't stres that enough.  I'm glad we're heading towards No Kill Shelters and I see some progress towards that direction.  But I still think that people should be a part of their community.  Get hands on.  It's not good enough to just send a donation.  Get involved."

The Barbi Twins plan to atend the Best Friends Lint Roller Party at Smashbox Studios on September 14th, where they will be promoting their latest campaign.  Bunnies Rescuing Bunnies.  Called the Great Bunny Rescue of 2006, they are working with Playboy Bunnies and Best Friends, which has a place in REno where 1,000 rabbits are in need of homes.


Copyright  © 2005 by Kitty Liberation Front.   All rights reserved.

This site best viewed in Internet Explorer or Netscape with screen setting 800x600
AOL users should go to advanced options and uncompress images.
The Kitty Liberation, its contents and images, trademark and copyright  © 2005 by Kitty Liberation Front.
Information on this website comes from various sources and is posted here for reference only and not necessarily the opinion of the Kitty Liberation front,
Web designer is not responsible for content of this website.

Contributed editorials and images  copyrighted respectively to contributing individuals or entities.
All images, designs, etc on this site are copyrighted and protected by law and not for reproduction.
We will seek out and prosecute all violators using images without the express written permission from the Kitty Liberation Front or any other copyright holder.