“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.

 

Watch Jora and Black’s epic 10,500-mile journey from Bulgaria to South African sanctuary

Washington, D.C., January  20, 2016 – This week the Born Free Foundation has released a heartwarming video of two ex-circus lions who were successfully rescued from Bulgaria and now thriving in their new South African home.

Eight-year-old brothers Jora and Black made international headlines when they were rescued by Born Free from a beast wagon in Bulgaria more than three months ago.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of the Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA, “Thanks to generous public support, Born Free was able to transport Jora and Black 10,500 miles via the United Kingdom to their new life and forever home at the Shamwari Game Reserve near Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  Their story has a happy ending; no wild animal should suffer in unnatural, cruel captivity, and Born Free will save every one we can until wild animal circuses are a thing of the past.”  

The seven minute video, made available for the first time this week, reveals how Born Free successfully rescued the lions, and shows the highly emotional moment the brothers were released from their traveling crates and stepped out onto African soil for the first time.

Born Free Foundation Projects Manager, Karen Pettman, said Jora and Black had settled into their new home quickly. “We are delighted that they have now adapted to their spacious home at Born Free’s Big Cat Rescue Centre on the Shamwari Game Reserve. Jora and Black clearly love being together and are very playful with each other. They are also becoming firm favorites with the center’s visitors, who they will often come out to say hello to, chasing each other along the edge of their enclosure.”

Taken in as small cubs, Jora and Black were originally part of a circus act touring Eastern Europe and Turkey. Following the Bulgarian government’s much-welcomed ban on the use of wild mammals in circuses, the lions were left to languish in a stifling beast wagon until the owners agreed to re-home them with Born Free. They will now be given lifetime care in their large, natural, and safe accommodation at the Born Free Jean Byrd Education and Rescue Centre in Shamwari.

The release of the video comes as Born Free declares 2016 the Year of the Lion to highlight the plight of lions worldwide and to mark the 50th anniversary of the motion picture Born Free, starring Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA co-founders Virginia McKenna and her late husband, Bill Travers as pioneering conservationists Joy and George Adamson, and their successful rehabilitation of Elsa the lioness to the wild. Screenings, activities, news, and events are planned throughout 2016.

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.

 

Year of action and celebration will honor the 50th Anniversary of the film Born Free, and a significant portfolio of critical work to protect lions globally

Washington D.C./Horsham, West Sussex, January 4, 2016 --  On the 50th anniversary of the iconic, award-winning motion picture Born Free, the Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA have declared 2016 The Year of the Lion. The initiative was announced today by Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, and co-founders of both organizations, Virginia McKenna OBE and Will Travers OBE, President.  

Elsa the lioness captured the hearts and minds of a worldwide audience in the 1966 classic film Born Free, but today the international wildlife charity that bears its name sounds the alarm over the future of lions. The film starred legendary actress Virginia McKenna and her late husband Bill Travers portraying the pioneering conservationists George and Joy Adamson and their successful rehabilitation of Elsa to the wild.

According to Roberts, “Born Free’s Year of the Lion campaign is reflective of the film’s anniversary that started it all, as well as the fact that today the fight for the survival of lions in the wild has never been more urgent.  Experts believe their numbers have plummeted to fewer than 20,000 across Africa, as their habitat dwindles and becomes more fragmented; horrific retaliatory killings are perpetrated; and lions by the hundreds are slaughtered each year by trophy hunters in the name of ‘sport.’ It is imperative that their plight is taken seriously, immediately. The species’ decline has been rapid and steep and without concerted action at all levels of government globally, the species could disappear from significant parts of Africa during our lifetime.”

Lions across West, Central and East Africa have declined by 60% or more over the past 20 years, and in West Africa they have been declared critically endangered. More than a dozen African countries are already thought to have lost their lion populations, and the international demand for lion bones and body parts is further exacerbating this downward spiral.  From 2003-2012, over 24,000 lion specimens were declared to have been exported from 102 countries, including 19 lion range states -- countries where lions still roam naturally in the wild.

Across the globe, the public is more aware than ever about the need to save lions before it is too late. The slaying of Cecil the lion made headlines worldwide in 2015, and the recent documentary Blood Lions revealed the horrors of professional and canned hunting to audiences in over 100 countries.  Many airlines have stopped shipping lion trophies; France and Australia have banned lion parts imports; and field conservation projects are underway across Africa to save this beleaguered species.

McKenna said, “There was a time, fifty years ago, when wild lion numbers were in excess of 100,000.  Though aware of the challenges lions faced, even then, I could never have foreseen the devastation that was about to befall this iconic species. Filming Born Free was a life-changing experience. It taught us to understand and respect lions and their nature. We could never have imagined the impact the film would have, not only on our family but also on the many millions that watched it. It is unimaginable to contemplate the possible extinction of these extraordinary animals and we must do whatever is in our power to stop their further decline.”

In 2016, the spotlight will be on lions at the meeting of The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), convening in Johannesburg where, in September, more than 180 countries from around the world will debate, and possibly decide, the future level of protection afforded to lions. Born Free is calling for an end to commercial trade and an up-listing of African lions to CITES Appendix I (highest priority).

During Born Free’s Year of the Lion, the organization will also participate in a major scientific lion census in the heritage site of Meru, the heartland of George and Joy Adamson and Born Free, to establish how many lions remain in the area. Steeped in the history of wild lions and their conservation, Meru is still home to the descendants of Girl, Boy and Ugas, three of the lions featured in the Born Free movie.

According to Travers, “It is hoped that with Year of the Lion and the poignant anniversary of the much-loved film, people will again look at what is happening to this most majestic and iconic of wild animals. Lions are in our DNA. It is still within our grasp to reverse this devastating trend, but only if we wake up now and take action.”  

There will be special screenings, events, news, and information online throughout 2016 to mark the 50thanniversary of the film.

President Barak Obama said “I think I may have teared up at the end (Born Free) when they release Elsa. I couldn’t have been more than four or five.” 

For further information on the Year of the Lion, visit: www.bornfreeusa.org/yearofthelion. and www.bornfree.org.uk/yearofthelion.

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.

 

“We are asking popular websites like Buzzfeed, The Dodo, and The Animal Rescue Site to pledge not to share online videos of pet birds for at least one day, on National Bird Day.” -- Born Free USA CEO 

Washington, D.C. December 18, 2015 -- As part of The 14th Annual National Bird Day on January 5, 2016, Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, in conjunction with Avian Welfare Coalition, is asking popular websites and the public to stop sharing online videos of birds in captivity. While seemingly entertaining, videos of captive parrots, parakeets, cockatoos, and other avian species, inadvertently promote the myth that they are domesticated pets. The reality is that they are wild, intelligent animals with emotional and physical needs that cannot be met in captivity.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation, “Online footage of parrots in cages is increasingly problematic. With each social media share, people wrongly accept that these birds make for cute, low maintenance pets. Not true. Even in homes where they are loved and pampered, birds are unable to exercise their natural, emotional, physical, and social behaviors for the many decades they are kept alive.”

Born Free USA is concerned that these videos are encouraging people to buy wild birds, without understanding how complex their needs are. “The tragic result of such videos will be more wild animals suffering a lifetime of neglect, loneliness, and displacement.  We understand and respect that millions of people already own wild birds, however, online videos simply do not tell the whole story,” Roberts adds.

Unlike dogs and cats who split from their wild ancestors tens of thousands of years ago, “pet” birds are no different from their wild relatives. They are not equipped for a life in captivity, best exemplified by the fact that pet birds often have their wings clipped and are kept in cages, denying them of their most basic instinct --  flying.

Roberts explains, “When people post videos of beautiful birds doing silly things in captivity, oftentimes that bird is actually displaying distress, such as screaming and aggression or desperation by bonding with a human out of loneliness when their natural need is to bond with others of their species – in some cases a single mate for life.” 

On January 5, Born Free USA is asking that popular websites like Buzzfeed, The Dodo, and The Animal Rescue Site, among others, remove captive bird videos, and that the public not share them.  Roberts says, “These are all informative, entertaining, well-intentioned websites and we hope they will respect wildlife and take action.  National Bird Day is a time to celebrate birds for the true wild animals they are. Think outside the cage by viewing and sharing live webcams and videos of birds in the wild, or simply go outside and enjoy native birds!”

For more information on how to celebrate the wildness of all birds and help birds in captivity, as please visit www.nationalbirdday.org.  For bird owners looking for support, visit http://nationalbirdday.org/a_happy_bird.php.

Born Free USA is a nationally recognized 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 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.

“New Jersey has the opportunity to be a leader on this issue.” Born Free CEO

Washington, D.C. November 9, 2015 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, will testify in New Jersey at a hearing today in support of Senate Bill S. 3416 to ban the possession, transport, import, export, processing, sale, or shipment of many imperiled species, including the “big five” African species: African elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, and Cape buffalo. 

The bill, introduced by Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-21), is intended to curb trophy hunting. It was introduced 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 in July. His death was particularly tragic because he was a known, local favorite, and was collared as part of an Oxford University study.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, "Illegal trafficking of wildlife products is directly responsible for shocking declines in wild animal populations in recent years, and this bill is a crucial step toward reducing the availability of wildlife in consumer markets, thus reducing poaching and trade. New Jersey has the opportunity to be a leader on this issue. In 2014, New Jersey became the first state to ban the sale or import of ivory and rhinoceros horns in order to stem the state’s role as a major hub in the illegal trade of these products.”

Senator Raymond Lesniak said, “S. 3416 will stop nonsensical trophy killings being imported, transported or possessed in New Jersey in order to protect endangered, threatened or vulnerable animals from being killed to be a trophy for someone. I urge my colleagues to do the right thing today by voting in support of this humane legislation.”

Trophy hunting, involving the selective killing of wild animals for ‘sport’ is extremely controversial. Pro-hunting groups often make the argument that hunting brings conservation funding into a country through hunting permits. However, not only are the steepest declines in lion populations seen in countries with the highest hunting intensity, but there is proof that the funds reaching the local community are miniscule, reports Born Free USA. 

In 2013 Born Free USA, along with partner organizations, commissioned Economists at Large to investigate the facts.  The study shows 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. Additionally, trophy hunting revenues account for only 1.8 percent of overall tourism in nine investigated countries that allow trophy hunting, and even pro-hunting sources find that only three percent of the money actually reaches the rural communities where hunting occurs. While trophy hunting supporters routinely claim that hunting generates $200 million annually in remote areas of Africa, the industry is actually economically insignificant and makes a minimal contribution to national income.

This information reinforces Born Free USA’s call for wildlife photography safaris and other non-consumptive use, to be the focus for tourist activities, which make a greater contribution to conservation and the African economy without killing lions.

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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