The Vampire Diaries star is a longtime campaigner for animal rights, and has been outspoken about topics such as Canada's controversial seal cull and shark finning.
He has launched his own non-profit eco organisation, the Ian Somerhalder Foundation (ISF), and is now putting plans in place to build a green sanctuary, which will help troubled kids learn to co-operate with their peers by handling animals.
He tells E! Online, "It's all about collaboration and compassion. If you can empower someone who's really young, who's had a really tough go at it, to find compassion by using animals - because it's so much easier than with people - then you have something.
"Now you've started to engage these kids and they'll learn not to fight. They really realise what a full life you can have if you just get rid of those demons that we all have."