Born Free USA database shows that these incidents are part of a larger problem with captivity

Washington, D.C., June 10, 2016 -- A leopard named Zeya escaped from her enclosure at the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, Utah this week, marking the latest in a string of recent escapes, injuries, deaths, and other disturbing incidents at zoos. Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, calls for an immediate review of all safety and emergency protocols for the keeping of potentially dangerous wild animals in zoos across the U.S. and globally.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “Zeya was simply demonstrating the curiosity, agility, and desire for independence you would expect from a leopard, within the thoroughly unnatural confines of her life at the zoo. The blame here does not lie with a wild animal for acting like a wild animal, but rather with the Hogle Zoo for both its long-term exploitation of this animal and its inadequate safety measures. It is fortunate that no one was hurt during this incident, although tranquilizing an animal is never without risk. However, many animals and humans do not escape unscathed from this type of event.”

In addition to Zeya the leopard at the Hogle Zoo on June 7, there have been several other incidents at zoos in just under two weeks: 

  • On May 27, a male wolf named Rebel at the Menominee Park Zoo in Oshkosh, Wisconsin was euthanized after visitors took advantage of an improperly opened gate and Rebel nipped the hand of a four-year-old child who stuck his fingers through the enclosure's chain-link fence.
  • On May 28, Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, was killed after a young boy fell into his enclosure.
  • On June 5, a male lion at Chiba Zoological Park in Tokyo, Japan was filmed crashing into a protective glass wall as he tried to pounce on a little boy.

These are not isolated or unusual events at zoos. According to the Born Free USA Exotic Animal Incidents Database, since 1990, there have been 224 instances of injury to a person by an animal at a zoo, and 128 human deaths. Additionally, 87 zoo animals have been killed by humans.

Roberts continues, “These staggering numbers are appalling and preventable. Zeya’s escape, Harambe’s and Rebel’s deaths, and countless other tragedies are caused by a severe lack of attention to public safety and animal welfare at zoos. There is absolutely no reason to imprison these wild animals in cages, and there is no reason why people should be in such close proximity at all to dangerous wild animals. These animals do not belong anywhere but in their natural habitats, in the wild.”

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic "pets," trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to America the message of "compassionate conservation": the vision of the U.K.-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free's mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

 

On June 22, 1966, the film that kicked off the animal welfare and wildlife conservation movement premiered in the U.S.

Washington, D.C., June 9, 2016 -- Fifty years ago this month (June 22), the iconic 1966 motion picture Born Free premiered in the U.S. The Columbia Pictures film starred Virginia McKenna and the late Bill Travers as real-life husband and wife, George and Joy Adamson, and told the story of the Adamsons’ efforts to return an orphaned lion cub, Elsa, to the wild. After making the film, McKenna and Travers vowed to end captive animal cruelty and focus their lives on promoting compassionate conservation around the world by starting two organizations: Born Free Foundation in 1984 and Born Free USA in 2002. Today, the organizations have grown into dynamic international forces in wildlife protection. 

The story of Elsa is considered as the first mainstream Hollywood film to spotlight a conservation issue and is regarded by many as the beginning of the animal welfare and wildlife conservation movement: an approach to wild animals that recognizes each one as an individual in need of protection. This early look at “compassionate conservation” is the mission of Born Free USA today. 

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and an international expert on wildlife conservation, “The legacy of Elsa, who really was the ambassador of wildlife conservation, is what began this global evolution of respect and love for big cats—and for the public to want to learn more. Elsa, the Adamsons, and the film opened doors in 1966 which we honor and celebrate 50 years later. With the listing of African lions under the U.S. Endangered Species Act last year and the establishment of the Presidential Task Force on Combatting Wildlife Trafficking, we are living in an era of great change for these animals. This film, and Bill and Virginia’s lifelong commitment to wild animals in need, has never been more relevant, and this anniversary is one of the reasons we launched our 2016 Born Free Year of the Lion campaign.” 

Over the past 50 years, the movie has truly become a pop culture phenomenon, which Born Free USA hopes will keep Elsa’s story alive and forever bring attention to all wildlife. Fifty years ago, Born Free received Academy Awards for Original Music Score and Best Song, and Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture Drama and Best Motion Picture Drama Actress for McKenna. In the past decade, the film was mentioned on the AMC television show Mad Men; the song was played on Showtime’s Dexter and in the feature film Madagascar; and the song was sung on the Fox series The Simpsons. Even President Barack Obama has said, "I think I may have teared up at the end when they release Elsa. I couldn't have been more than four or five."

“Born Free USA works tirelessly to help keep wildlife in the wild. This year, we celebrate the foundation of our work: the film and Elsa,” Roberts adds.

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic "pets," trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to America the message of "compassionate conservation": the vision of the U.K.-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free's mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

 

 “Zoos are playing Russian roulette with dangerous wild animals” – Born Free USA CEO

Washington, D.C., May 31, 2016 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, grieves the tragic and preventable death of Harambe, and urges zoos to permanently end exhibitions of captive gorillas. Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, was killed on Saturday after a young boy fell into his enclosure. This incident is not the first at this zoo, and is one of many involving gorillas at zoos throughout the U.S. 

According to international animal welfare expert Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “The lesson of Harambe is that having dangerous wild animals in American zoos is not worth the risk to humans and the risk to the animals themselves. Zoos, whether licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture or accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, cannot predict or prevent the possibility that animals will escape their compounds or that humans will enter them. The only way to eliminate risk is to not have certain animals in zoos in the first place. Should dangerous animals not be on display? Should exhibits be closed while a complete review of safety protocols is put in place? Should all emergency protocols at every zoo in the country be assessed? If you play Russian roulette with wild animals in captivity, it’s best to reduce the number of bullets in the chamber. However, the lesson of Harambe is that it’s best not to play at all. Gorillas should be protected in Africa where they belong. Children can learn about gorillas—and tigers, lions, elephants, and polar bears—without ever seeing one up close.”

According to the Born Free USA Exotic Animal Incidents Database, at the Cincinnati Zoo:

  • In 1990, a zookeeper named Laurie Stober was offering a grape to a caged polar bear when it pushed its teeth through the bars and chewed up her right arm almost to the elbow. She survived, and the subsequent lawsuit included allegations that the zoo ignored danger warnings from Stober and other staff.
  • In 1996, a Bengal tiger mauled the seven-year-old daughter of the zoo education director as the animal was about to appear on a television show with the girl’s father.
  • Multiple young animals, including a polar bear, a giraffe, and a white lion, have died from avoidable injuries or unapparent causes.
  • It is clear that safety protocols have not improved. In March 2016, a polar bear named Berit escaped from his enclosure, forcing the zoo to close temporarily.

In addition, the Born Free USA Exotic Animal Incidents Database catalogues more than 20 incidents involving gorillas at U.S. zoos, demonstrating the inherent risk associated with keeping them in captivity:

  • In 1998, a 340-pound gorilla escaped from his room at the Dallas Zoo, raided the kitchen, bit a keeper, and then dragged her down a hallway.
  • In 2000, Evelyn, a gorilla at the Los Angeles Zoo, used overgrown honeysuckle vines to pull herself out of her enclosure and wandered the grounds for an hour until subdued by a tranquilizer dart.
  • In 2003, Little Joe, a 300-pound gorilla, escaped from his cage at the Franklin Park Zoo for the second time that year by scaling a 10-foot wide, 12-foot deep moat, getting past electric wire, and leaving the zoo grounds. During the escape, Little Joe attacked an 18-year-old woman, throwing her several feet in the air, stepping on her, dragging her, and biting her on her back. The woman was holding a two-year-old girl who was snatched out of her arms and slammed to the ground.
  • In 2004, Jabari, a 13-year-old western lowland gorilla, escaped from his two-acre enclosure at the Dallas Zoo and attacked several people before charging at police officers, who fired three shots, killing him. Jabari bit a 26-year-old woman and her three-year-old son several times and threw them against a wall.
  • In 2012, a 400-pound adult male gorilla escaped his cage at the Buffalo Zoo, biting a female zookeeper before being tranquilized and captured.

Roberts adds, “Zoo apologists like Jack Hanna keep saying the same thing. They say zoos are safe; that accidents happen; and that the decision to shoot the gorilla was the right one (just as Hanna said about a deadly incident at the San Francisco Zoo involving a tiger a decade ago). But, the point is that these situations should never arise in the first place. We should be guided by a sense of precaution, not risk. Let us honor Harambe by ensuring that this tragedy is never repeated.”

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic "pets," trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to America the message of "compassionate conservation": the vision of the U.K.-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free's mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

 

“New Jersey is a major hub for imports and transportation of body parts of endangered species.” – Born Free USA CEO

Washington, D.C., May 3, 2016 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, commends Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey for signing S. 977 into law—a bill that would ban the possession, transport, import, export, processing, sale, or shipment of lions, tigers, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and cape buffalos. These animals are endangered species that fall victim to trophy hunting.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “New Jersey is a major hub for imports and transportation of body parts of endangered species. We are thankful for Senator Raymond Lesniak’s leadership on this bill, which is crucial to protecting imperiled species. We commend Governor Christie for signing this bill into law. Born Free has studied wildlife trafficking for more than two decades, and we can conclude that trophy hunting does nothing to enhance conservation. In 2013, Born Free USA, along with partner organizations, commissioned Economists at Large to investigate the facts.  The study proved that the trophy hunting industry makes a minimal contribution to national incomes. As a portion of any national economy, trophy hunting revenue never accounts for more than 0.27 percent of the GDP."

Under this legislation, those violating the law will be guilty of a third degree crime and fines of up to $75,000. The law will go into effect Monday, May 26, 2016, after the Senate and Assembly concur with the governor's conditions.

According to Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-NJ), who sponsored the bill, “Our ban will send a strong message to those who would endanger the very existence of these majestic animals to avoid bringing their ‘trophies’ into New Jersey and better yet, give it up entirely.”

This critical piece of legislation comes less than a year after the tragic death of Cecil the lion, who was allegedly lured outside of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and killed by an American hunter. He was shot with an arrow, injured, and tracked for 40 hours before finally being shot with a gun, beheaded, and skinned. The U.S. is a significant market for hunting “trophies” like Cecil. State laws banning the importation of these products are aimed at reducing the demand. Roberts adds, “Born Free USA encourages other states to pass similar legislation in order to protect imperiled species from extinction and ultimately put an end, once and for all, to this horrific ‘sport.’”

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation”—the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

 

 “It is immensely cruel and dangerous to keep them in captivity.” - CEO Adam M. Roberts

Washington, D.C., April 19, 2016 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, condemns University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) defensive end Robert Nkemdiche’s announced plan this week to purchase a panther “when he is drafted into the NFL,” and urges him to find a more compassionate way to celebrate. Defending his plan, Nkemdiche insisted, “They’re like cats,” and said that if a guest is scared, he’ll “put the panther away.”

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation, “Panthers, like other exotic animals, may seem like a novel or stylish pet to buy, but the reality is that it is immensely cruel and dangerous to keep them in captivity. Nkemdiche is drawn to them because he believes a big cat will set him apart, but acquiring a panther would just mark him as callous and irresponsible. Not only would this purchase be devastating for the panther he acquires, but he is also using his celebrity status to set a terrible example. People like to emulate celebrities, and so he is encouraging others to participate in the brutal exotic pet trade, as well.”

The epidemic of big cat ownership threatens public safety. According to the Born Free USA Exotic Animal Incidents Database, reported incidents involving captive big cats have resulted in the deaths of at least 23 people since 1999, five of them children. In many cases, the animals were shot and killed, often by first responders who were neither trained nor properly equipped to handle the situations.

Private big cat ownership also subjects the cats to cruel mistreatment. They frequently come from a vicious breeding cycle in which babies are separated from their mothers and sold as cubs. Pet big cats are often declawed and defanged in an effort to "tame" them, and are kept in cramped cages, fed unnatural diets, and deprived of contact with other members of their species.

Roberts adds, “A panther is like a house cat as much as a hyena is like a Chihuahua: definitely not domesticated, and never suitable for life inside a home. I strongly urge Nkemdiche to find a more humane way to celebrate.”

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic "pets," trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to America the message of "compassionate conservation": the vision of the U.K.-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free's mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

 

“It is standard in this horrific industry to separate babies from their mothers, and then discard them when they grow too big for handling.” Born Free USA CEO 

Washington, D.C., April 5, 2016 -- In response to a 2012 legal petition filed by Born Free USA, The Humane Society of the United States, World Wildlife Fund, Detroit Zoological Society, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Big Cat Rescue, Fund for Animals, and Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued guidance making clear that exhibitors violate the Animal Welfare Act by allowing members of the public to handle or feed infant exotic cats like tigers, lions, cheetahs, jaguars, or leopards.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation, “The insatiable demand for cubs and baby primates used at interactive exhibits fuels a vicious cycle of breeding and exploitation. It is standard in this horrific industry to separate babies from their mothers, and then discard them when they grow too big for handling. The USDA's most recent policy decision is a step toward addressing these concerns, but still does not do enough to protect the young big cats, bears, and primates suffering for profit around the nation."

As documented in the petition, dozens of facilities across the country routinely breed and acquire exotic feline species—all of which are listed under the Endangered Species Act—to produce an ample supply of cubs for profit.

“We applaud USDA for taking this first step to put roadside zoos and the public on notice that federal law prohibits using infant cubs for photographic opportunities and interactive experiences,” said Anna Frostic, senior attorney for wildlife & animal research at The Humane Society of the United States, “but it is imperative that the agency take additional action to prohibit public contact with big cats, bears, and nonhuman primates of any age.”

“Both animals and people are put in harm’s way when big cats are used for public contact exhibition; young cubs are particularly susceptible to disease, especially when deprived of necessary maternal care, and cubs quickly grow into dangerous predators that can cause serious injury to adults and children,” said Jeff Flocken, North America regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

In contrast to zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, “there are thousands of big cats in private menageries in the U.S., and these facilities do not have the resources or expertise to safely and responsibly care for dangerous wild animals,” said Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO of the Detroit Zoological Society. 

Conservation professionals agree that endangered and threatened species like tigers, lions, and apes should not be bred for commercial purposes.

The mass propagation of tigers in the U.S. has resulted in a captive population that is nearly twice the number of tigers that exist in the wild. “Cubs used for petting, if they survive, typically spend many years living in substandard facilities and the few who are lucky enough to eventually end up at good sanctuaries typically arrive with medical issues caused by deficient care,” said Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue.

In addition to these animal welfare, public safety, and conservation concerns, “the surplus of exotic animals in roadside zoos and other substandard facilities puts an enormous financial burden on the accredited sanctuaries that provide lifetime care for abandoned and seized animals,” according to Michael Markarian, president of The Fund for Animals.

Investigations have revealed that using tiger cubs for photo ops and play sessions can yield more than $20,000 per month for a roadside zoo, fueling demand for more and more cubs—but once the cats mature, their future is uncertain. “There is just not enough space or resources at accredited sanctuaries to support the demand created by this irresponsible breeding,” said Kellie Heckman, executive director of Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.

Further, “the fate of captive tigers in the U.S. has serious implications for the conservation of tigers in the wild,” said Leigh Henry, senior policy advisor for Wildlife Conservation at World Wildlife Fund. “Strengthened regulation of U.S. captive tigers will help ensure that captive-bred tiger parts don’t enter the black market and stimulate the demand that drives the poaching of wild tigers.”

While there is still much more work to be done to fully address the coalition’s petition to completely prohibit public contact with big cats, bears, and nonhuman primates of any age, this is a significant step forward for the U.S. to improve its oversight of captive tigers and lead by example to encourage other countries, like China, to reduce the demand for tigers and tiger products.

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation”—the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

 

Washington D.C., March 22, 2016 – Born Free USA, a member of The Fur Free Alliance, applauds renowned luxury brand Armani for today’s announcement that the company will stop the use of all real animal fur. With its decision, the Italian high-end label is responding to the growing consumer demand for ethical and sustainable fashion. 

Armani will eliminate real fur, including rabbit fur, from its collection starting with its fall/winter 2016 season. The brand committed to this policy after working with the Fur Free Alliance, an international coalition of over 40 animal protection organizations focused on ending the fur trade.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “This critical decision to stop using fur, declared by one of the world’s most iconic and talented designers, is an important victory for animals and fashion.  We could not be more grateful to the leadership the Armani brand has shown, and we hope this action will strongly influence the rest of the high-end fashion industry.  With every designer who goes fur-free, thousands fewer animals will be barbarically destroyed for their fur. This truly is a momentous moment for fur-bearing animals, and now that the Armani name is linked to compassion for the welfare of animals, we know the public will surely take notice like never before.”  

Giorgio Armani said, “I am pleased to announce that the Armani Group has made a firm commitment to abolish the use of animal fur in its collections. Technological progress made over the years allows us to have valid alternatives at our disposition that render the use of cruel practices unnecessary as regards animals. Pursuing the positive process undertaken long ago, my company is now taking a major step ahead, reflecting our attention to the critical issues of protecting and caring for the environment and animals.”

Most fur used in the fashion industry comes from fur farms, where wild animals are kept in small cages and killed by cruel methods that preserve the pelts - such as gassing and anal electrocution. In addition, fur production has high environmental costs and public health risks due to its chemical-heavy production process.

By committing to a fur-free policy Armani joins other high-end brands – such as Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Stella McCartney - and acknowledges the ethical concerns of a new generation of fashion consumers.

Joh Vinding, Chairman of the Fur Free Alliance, said, “Armani’s fur-free announcement makes it clear that designers and consumers can have creative freedom and luxury all without supporting animal cruelty. Mr. Armani has been a trendsetter in the fashion world for decades and this latest announcement is proof that compassion and innovation are the future of fashion.”

Society’s changed ethical perception of animals and the public’s long-standing opposition to the fur industry have led various countries, including the UK, the Netherlands, Austria and Croatia, to ban fur farming. Around the world - as debates on fur farming bans are becoming more and more widespread - governments that value animal welfare are increasingly recognizing the fact that fur holds no future.

Armani’s compassionate decision will save thousands of animals from needless suffering and is celebrated by the Fur Free Alliance and millions of its supporters worldwide.

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation” — the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film “Born Free,” along with their son Will Travers. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org; www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

 

Donated items at the Born Free USA Washington, D.C. office weigh more than 750 pounds; include mountain lion, zebra, and bison

Washington, D.C., March 1, 2016 -- Today, Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, announced the completion of the second annual Born Free USA Fur for the Animals campaign: a four-month donation drive that collected 392 fur items from around the world to distribute to U.S. wildlife rehabilitation centers, where they will be used to comfort orphaned and injured animals. This year, the organization not only received fur coats and fashion accessories, but also a variety of other objects including a mountain lion, bison, and zebra hide. The office now has more than 750 pounds of donations, estimated at $750,000, representing approximately 12,000 animals who died for these products.  

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation, “It is quite a dramatic statement by the public for us to receive nearly 400 donations -- coats,  hats, rugs, pillows, and toys -- all made from animals who were killed for these products. People do not know what to do with these once they realize that fur is neither luxurious nor fashionable. Our solution is to put those furs to far better use comforting and providing warmth to wild animals in need, rather than perpetuating the image of a brutal industry. We thank everyone who was compassionate enough to donate their old garments to the Fur for the Animals drive this year.”

While the majority of donations were mink, rabbit, and fox, Fur for the Animals received several surprising, disturbing items. Among them: a child’s fur teddy bear, and hides from white-tailed deer, bison, and zebra. Most shocking is a tattered rug made from a trophy-hunted mountain lion, including the claws and head.

“When the box with the lion was opened in our office, we were all truly devastated. While the lion rug is too torn up to be of use to a wildlife rehabilitation center, Born Free USA hopes it will serve as a compelling reminder to all who see it that such ‘trophies’ are not glorious, not beautiful, and not a celebration of wild animals in any way,” Roberts explains.   

Beginning next week, Born Free USA will send the donated fur to wildlife rehabilitation centers gearing up for the spring wildlife baby season. While most will be sent as they are for the rehabilitators to turn into the sizes they need to help their animals, some items have already been turned into blankets and pillows, thanks to the generous volunteers of Girl Scout Troop 5051 in Maryland. Earlier this month, the girls sewed, altered, and crafted several fur coats into smaller cushions and blankets specifically to comfort small, baby animals. 

This spring and summer, Born Free USA will ship the items to the following campaign partners:

  1. Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, Kendalia, Texas
  2. The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center, Ramona, California
  3. California Wildlife Center, Malibu, California
  4. Snowdon Wildlife Sanctuary, McCall, Idaho
  5. Peace River Wildlife Center, Punta Gorda, Florida
  6. Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, Boyce, Virginia
  7. Chintimini Wildlife Center, Corvallis, Oregon
  8. Desert Rescue Animal Sanctuary, Las Vegas, Nevada 

Additional wildlife rehabilitation partners are encouraged to participate. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information. 

Born Free USA commends the growing number of fashion retailers vowing to go fur-free. In July 2015, the luxury brand Hugo Boss announced it will remove real animal fur from its collections beginning with its Fall/Winter 2016 line. Hugo Boss is joining such brands as American Apparel, Esprit, H&M, Steve Madden, Marks & Spencer, and Topshop, among others, that have pledged to produce only fur free merchandise.

Born Free USA is a member of The Fur Free Alliance, an international coalition of animal protection organizations working to bring an end to the exploitation and killing of animals for their fur. The Fur Free Alliance represents more than 40 animal protection organizations in 28 countries and millions of supporters worldwide. 

Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation”—the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free USA’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

Washington, D.C., February 1, 2016 -- For the first time, wildlife conservationists have confirmed that lions are living in a remote national park in Ethiopia, following a recent expedition supported by Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation. The discovery was made after an expedition into the heart of Alatash National Park in northwest Ethiopia, on the Ethiopia-Sudan border, led by Dr. Hans Bauer, a renowned lion conservationist working for Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU). See the complete report here.   

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation, “The confirmation that lions persist in this area is exciting news. With lion numbers in steep decline across most of the African continent, the discovery of previously unconfirmed populations is hugely important—especially in Ethiopia, whose government is a significant conservation ally. We need to do all we can to protect these animals and the ecosystem on which they depend, along with all the other remaining lions across Africa, so we can reverse the declines and secure their future.”

In this groundbreaking discovery, Dr. Bauer and his team found original and undisputable evidence of lions in the region—successfully obtaining camera trap images of lions and identifying lion tracks. The team also concluded that lions were likely to exist in the larger, adjacent Dinder National Park across the border in Sudan.

Alatash is a huge region that very few people have visited. Though lions are thought to have been present there for centuries, and locals knew of their existence in the area, the international community was unaware. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) only considered Alatash a “possible range” for the species.

Dr. Bauer said, “Lions are definitely present in Alatash National Park and in Dinder National Park. Lion presence in Alatash has not previously been confirmed in meetings at the national or international level.”

“Considering the relative ease with which lion signs were observed, it is likely that they are resident throughout Alatash and Dinder. Due to limited surface water, prey densities are low and lion densities are likely to be low. We may conservatively assume a density in the range of one to two lions per 100 km2. On a total surface area of about 10,000 km2, this would mean a population of 100-200 lions for the entire ecosystem, of which 27-54 would be in Alatash,” he added.

The African lion is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species, with a declining trend throughout most of its range. Lion numbers are estimated to have declined 50%-75% since 1980 and the species only occupies 8% of its historic range across the continent. Roberts adds, “Lions were thought to be locally extinct in Sudan, so the new findings are encouraging. Now that the expedition is complete, the next step is to communicate with the governments of Ethiopia and Sudan and look at the needs for conservation in the area so that this previously undiscovered lion stronghold can be protected.”

The discovery comes as Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation have just announced Born Free’s Year of the Lion 2016 initiative and the 50th anniversary of the iconic film, Born Free.

The Born Free Foundation is a dynamic international wildlife charity devoted to compassionate conservation and animal welfare. Born Free takes action worldwide to protect threatened species and stop individual animal suffering. Born Free believes wildlife belongs in the wild and works to phase out zoos. The Foundation rescues animals from lives of misery in tiny cages and gives them lifetime care. Born Free protects lions, elephants, tigers, gorillas, wolves, polar bears, dolphins, marine turtles, and many more species in their natural habitats, working with local communities to help people and wildlife live together without conflict. The Foundation’s high-profile campaigns change public attitudes, persuade decision-makers, and get results. Every year, Born Free helps hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide. More at www.bornfree.org.uk.

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation”—the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

 

 

Born Free’s Manori Gunawardena, a leading elephant scientist, in attendance

Washington, D.C., January 26, 2016 -- Today, on International Customs Day, Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation applaud the Sri Lankan government for destroying more than 350 elephant tusks.

To demonstrate Sri Lanka’s commitment to combating the illegal wildlife trade, the country’s president, Maithripala Sirisena, as well as ministers, diplomats, and other distinguished guests—including John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) and Born Free’s Country Representative for Sri Lanka, elephant scientist Manori Gunawardena—witnessed the permanent destruction of hundreds of seized ivory tusks. (//www.flickr.com/photos/132476364@N06/sets/72157661640310653">Photos available here)

Gunawardena believes the event signaled a strong willingness for her country to combat illegal trade at the international as well as national level: “I am relieved that it’s finally happening and am thrilled at the buy-in from the president and prime minister. Sri Lanka is making a very strong statement by going ahead with the destruction with the support of the highest levels of government. This event will educate Sri Lankans on the gravity of global wildlife crime and its impact on their country. Culturally, the Sri Lankan public will never condone the slaughter of elephants.”

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation, “This brave decision by the Sri Lankan government is to be loudly applauded. Overwhelmingly, the world now recognizes that ivory belongs on elephants, and nowhere else. Today, Sri Lanka joins the growing number of countries taking bold action to deny wildlife traffickers their blood money and blaze a path for a future with wild elephants.”

The ivory was seized by Sri Lanka Customs in Colombo in May 2012 from a ship en route from Mombasa Port in Kenya to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Had it not been impounded, from Dubai, the ivory would have been sent on to Thailand. Following a request of the Sri Lankan government, a team from the International Consortium on Combatting Wildlife Crime collected DNA samples from the seized ivory. Later, forensic analysis revealed that the elephants had been poached in southeast Tanzania and northern Mozambique.

China, Kenya, Mozambique, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and the United States all took a stand against illegal wildlife crime in 2015 by holding high-profile events to destroy ivory stockpiles. Earlier this month, Hong Kong also revealed plans to ban the import and export of ivory and to close domestic markets.

Based on Born Free’s monitoring of reports relating to ivory seizures, it is estimated that more than 139,000 elephants have been poached for their ivory since January 2012 (www.bloodyivory.org). Born Free helped secure the international ban in commercial trade in ivory in 1989. Since then, Born Free has campaigned tirelessly against attempts to reopen international trade in ivory as well as to bring an end to all domestic and legal trade. Born Free also investigates poaching, exposes illegal ivory smuggling, and provides protection to elephants in their range countries.

International Customs Day (January 26), organized by the World Customs Organization, recognizes the role of customs officials and agencies in maintaining border security by focusing on the working conditions and challenges customs officers face.

The Born Free Foundation is a dynamic international wildlife charity devoted to compassionate conservation and animal welfare. Born Free takes action worldwide to protect threatened species and stop individual animal suffering. Born Free believes wildlife belongs in the wild and works to phase out zoos. We rescue animals from lives of misery in tiny cages and give them lifetime care. Born Free protects lions, elephants, tigers, gorillas, wolves, polar bears, dolphins, marine turtles, and many more species in their natural habitats, working with local communities to help people and wildlife live together without conflict. Our high-profile campaigns change public attitudes, persuade decision-makers, and get results. Every year, Born Free helps hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide. For more information about Born Free, please visit www.bornfree.org.uk.

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic "pets," trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to America the message of "compassionate conservation": the vision of the U.K.-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free's mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

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