Born Free USA CEO weighs in on CITES meeting July 7 to 11

Washington, D.C., June 25, 2014 -- Citizens from all 180 nations represented at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) will monitor the upcoming deliberations of the CITES Standing Committee in Geneva (July 7 to 11, 2014) where decision-makers and politicians will meet to debate the future of some of the planet’s most threatened species.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and acting CEO of Born Free Foundation,  “CITES delegates have an amazing opportunity in Geneva to address the issues of endangered species conservation – the startling statistics of the wildlife trade will surely make anyone’s blood run cold.”

Roberts explains, “As many as 50,000 elephants were gunned down for their ivory tusks last year. The horn of a rhinoceros, coveted for its alleged medicinal properties, is fetching $60,000 a kilo on the black-market, leading to unabated slaughter. The demand for tiger body parts is causing population decimation, with just 3,500 remaining in the wild. All of these issues and more require urgent attention from CITES.”

Organized criminal syndicates, money laundering, and corruption mean that tackling the illegal trade in these vulnerable species is highly complex.  Ivory’s Curse, a recent report commissioned by Born Free USA, highlights alarming links between government-led militias, terrorist groups, and elephant poaching. 

Elephants:  “Born Free’s delegation will be calling on CITES to suspend debates about future legalized trade in elephant ivory,” explains Roberts. “Experiments to allow ivory trade in recent years have failed appallingly.  Africa’s elephants are worse off today than ever before. I strongly believe this is  a direct result of the international community’s failure to maintain a strong and comprehensive ban on any ivory trade.  We need proactive measures such as those adopted in the Elephant Protection Initiative; ivory stockpile destruction; investment in enforcement; and  we must demand eradication.”

Asian elephants will be in the spotlight at CITES, with calls for action to be taken against the illegal capture and smuggling of wild-caught infant elephants into the “domestic trade” where they are brutally trained before being touted for unsuspecting tourists to ride. There is an urgent call for domestic laws to be strengthened and enforced to prevent the laundering of illegal animals into the legal marketplace. 

Cheetahs:  Another strong focus for Born Free will be the illegal trade in cheetahs, which are being smuggled live out of the Horn of Africa.  Earlier this year, CITES agreed to organize a multi-stakeholder workshop to address this problem, an initiative that Born Free fully supports.

Tigers:  When it comes to tiger issues at CITES, the problems are all too clear. Roberts says, “Repeated requests for information from governments regarding the measures being taken to address tiger conservation have resulted in inadequate responses, at best.  This has severely hampered further action by CITES, but aside from that it has become patently obvious that tigers captive bred in Thailand, Laos, China and Vietnam are feeding into the illegal domestic and international trade.”

There are now over 6,500 tigers in these horrendous “farms,” supplying a market which in turn fuels further poaching of the world’s remaining 3,500 wild tigers. Once again Born Free will do its utmost to ensure this issue gets priority attention at July’s meeting and that a serious commitment is made, as required, to stockpile destruction and closure of these notorious ‘tiger farms’.

Rhinos:  Another pressing issue remains the plight of wild rhinos, victims of high levels of poaching for their horns. In 2013, over 1,000 rhino were poached in South Africa alone, and so far this year the deadly total has exceeded 440. While the Standing Committee will be considering a number of measures designed to close existing trade loopholes, many, including Born Free, are calling for a complete ban on all trade, including trophies, and the destruction of rhino horn stockpiles.

“CITES has a mammoth task on its hands, and while talk is good, it is now time for resolute action before it’s too late,” says Will Travers OBE, President of Born Free. “We need to give imperiled species such as rhinos, elephants, tigers and cheetahs a fighting chance. For some species the notion that they can, in some way, continue to endure the added pressure of controlled or limited legal trade while numbers continue to plummet is an idea that has lost credibility. The time for experimenting with the exploitation of our natural wildlife heritage is over.  CITES is uniquely placed to take a leading role and to act in the best interests of these and many other species, rather than the financial interests of wildlife poachers and profiteers.”

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 give them lifetime care.  Born Free protects lions, elephants, tigers, gorillas, wolves, polar bears, dolphins, marine turtles and many more species in their natural habitat, 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.

Washington D.C., February 21, 2014 -- The United Nations is highlighting the intrinsic values and contributions of wild animals and plants, particularly endangered and protected species, by declaring March 3, 2014 as World Wildlife DayBorn Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, will use this platform to increase awareness about the deleterious wildlife trade.

According to Adam Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “The global wildlife trade is among the most profitable illicit enterprises along with drug and gun running. Trafficking rare and exotic wildlife -- live birds, reptiles, elephant ivory, rhino horn, lion trophies and other species’ parts and products made from them -- is an international business, worth $10 to $20 billion annually. It is a wildly destructive and cruel enterprise that must be controlled.”

Born Free USA reports that over the past 30 years, lion populations have been cut in half to approximately 35,000; tigers, numbering 100,000 in 1900, are now fewer than 4,000; and elephants, decimated across Africa in the 1970s and 1980s for their ivory, are facing a poaching crisis once again.

Born Free USA has worked to stop the abhorrent practice of trophy and sport hunting of lions, rhinos, and elephants around the world. Roberts explains. “As the illicit wildlife trade grows, we are fighting harder than ever against the poaching and killing of elephants and rhinos for their ivory and horns in Africa; the hunting of bears for their gallbladders here in America; and the destructive practice of shark-fining happening in oceans around the world.”

The UN Assembly selected March 3 to coincide with the signing of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Washington, DC on March 3, 1973.  The international agreement between governments of 179 Member States aims to ensure that global trade in close to 35,000 species of plants and animals does not threaten their survival. Born Free USA focuses on CITES issues and has been a respected vocal and active participant at its meetings.


“With World Wildlife Day falling on the anniversary of CITES, it brings an even stronger opportunity for the global conservation community and governments everywhere to speak with a unified voice and declare that there is no excuse for the indiscriminate killing, selling or captivity of wildlife and that it will not be tolerated,” Roberts says.

Wildlife facts:

  • The U.S. is the world’s largest importer of African lion trophies and parts, one of the main reasons why fewer than 40,000 lions remain in the wild. Between 1999 and 2008, 7,090 lion specimens, reported as being from a wild source, were traded internationally for recreational trophy hunting purposes, representing a minimum of 5,663 lions.

  • A tiger in the U.S. can be purchased online or in person for as little as $300 -- less than the cost of a purebred dog. There are more tigers kept as “pets” in the U.S. (between 5,000 and 7,000) than there are in the wild, where fewer than 4,000 remain.

  • By the beginning of 2014, only 5,000 black rhinos are left in the wild. Over 1,000 rhinos were poached in South Africa alone in 2013.

  • Five states still allow bears to be killed solely for their gallbladders to create traditional Asian medicines and toiletries like shampoos and hemorrhoid creams. On the black market, bear gallbladder and bile can fetch prices higher by weight than gold or cocaine. In one instance, a bear gallbladder sold for $10,000 in South Korea.

  • At least 73 million sharks -- many of which are endangered - - are killed worldwide to supply a demand for shark fin soup.

  • Over 40% of the 234 primate species are now threatened with extinction.

  • An estimated 13 million reptiles are kept as pets in the U.S.  Most were captured in the wild or are the offspring of wild-caught parents. Tens of thousands of Burmese pythons - - formerly kept as pets - - have been let loose in the Florida swamps.

  • More than 60% of the recorded primate incidents in the U.S. (bites or worse injuries to humans) in the past 10 years involved “pet" primates. More than 90 children and adults were injured in incidents occurring in 49 different states.

Born Free USA is a 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’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 facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

Washington D.C., February 3, 2014 -- Adam Roberts has been named CEO of Born Free USA today. The announcement was made by Will Travers, departing CEO of Born Free USA, and Prashant K. Khetan, Chairman of the Board of Directors. Travers will remain on the organization’s Board of Directors and remain an active consultant.

According to Khetan, “It was a unanimous board decision to name Adam CEO, further enabling his strong leadership and depth of knowledge to benefit Born Free USA and the animals we serve.  His determined and passionate voice in wildlife conservation and animal protection makes a huge difference and we know he will continue his mission – and that of the organization – to do everything in his power to keep wildlife in the wild.”

Roberts has been Executive Vice President of Born Free USA since helping found the organization in 2002 to bring the UK-based Born Free Foundation's message of compassionate conservation to the American public. The Foundation was established in 1984 by Will Travers and his parents Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free.  Over the past decade Roberts has elevated the strength, force and significance of Born Free USA to become a recognized and impactful leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation.

According to Travers, “Adam’s contribution to Born Free has been above and beyond anything we could have imagined when we decided to launch Born Free USA – starting as a volunteer, then a one-man operation with a laptop, and now a powerhouse with impacts across America and throughout the world.  He is a brilliant voice to create change when it matters most and I could not be more confident in his abilities and proud to name him CEO.”

Roberts has over two decades of experience campaigning on international wildlife trade issues including the trade in elephant ivory, rhino horn, tiger bone, and bear gallbladders. He has campaigned to list the African lion as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and to stop the trade in primates as “pets.”

In addition to his work at Born Free USA, he serves on the board of directors of the Species Survival Network where he chairs their press and financial committees, the bear working group, and the animals in captivity working group.  SSN is dedicated to ensuring that the international wildlife trade does not cause overexploitation of animals and plants, and includes nearly 100 member organizations from more than 30 countries.  He is also a founding member of the board and current chairman of the board of Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing species-specific humane standards of care for animals held in animal sanctuaries, and accrediting facilities globally based on these standards.

In 2003, Roberts founded The $10 Club, a charity to fund poverty alleviation projects in developing countries. He runs the organization singlehandedly and as a volunteer. To date, the organization has supported work in more than 50 countries and has given out in excess of a quarter of a million dollars in grant awards. He began his animal protection career in Washington, DC in 1991 after graduating from Vassar College.

Roberts has written and presented over 50 articles for medical, legal, scientific, and advocacy organization publications around the world.  He is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences on issues concerning captive wild animals, compassionate conservation and the protection of animals. He is interviewed regularly by the international media about animal welfare and wildlife conservation issues.

He resides in Washington D.C. with his wife Stephanie, daughter Mia, two dogs and five cats.

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’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.

West Virginia is one of only eight states that lack any substantive restrictions for wild and exotic animals kept by private individuals

Washington, DC, January 21, 2014 -- Born Free USA, a leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, applauds West Virginia state senator Bob Beach (D- Monongalia) for introducing S.B. 371 -- “Prohibiting Possession of Wild and Exotic Animals.”  The bill seeks to improve animal welfare and protect the public from potentially dangerous exotic animals by enacting stricter regulations on exotic animal ownership. West Virginia is one of only eight states that lack any substantive restrictions for wild and exotic animals kept by private individuals, and Senator Beach’s bill would fix this glaring and dangerous legal oversight.

Adam Roberts, Executive Vice President of Born Free USA said, “The exotic pet trade is immeasurably cruel to wild animals. These so-called ‘pets,’ endure miserable conditions in captivity – they are usually locked up, isolated, and deprived of the ability to express their natural behaviors. Private owners often extract their teeth and fingernails, among other barbaric practices, in an attempt to ‘tame’ them.  Wild animals belong in the wild and can never be tamed. We cannot allow animals to be mutilated in the name of so-called companionship.”

S.B. 371 would ban the private possession of all “wild and exotic animals” in West Virginia, which are defined as any animals other than domestics and livestock. Exotic animals owned prior to the enactment of this bill can be kept, as long as the owner obtains a permit. The bill is narrowly crafted to ensure that only private owners are affected.  This bill does not apply to accredited exhibitors, nonprofits, animal control agencies, wildlife rehabilitators, veterinary clinics, sanctuaries, researchers, or educational institutions.

“It is time for West Virginia to follow the lead of 42 other states and pass legislation regulating exotic pet ownership,” said Roberts. “Senator Beach has made a powerful statement by introducing this bill, and I hope these long-overdue safeguards are implemented in West Virginia.”

These safeguards are crucial not only for animal welfare, but also for the protection of communities. Born Free USA maintains a database that tracks incidents involving exotic pets (www.bornfreeusa.org/database). Since 2000, there have been at least seven reported incidents in West Virginia of exotic pets escaping and threatening public safety.  In Huntington, a 13-year-old girl suffered injuries after being bitten by a “pet” capuchin monkey. In Berkeley County, another monkey who was suspected of having hepatitis B bit three children. Wild and exotic animals can not only injure people, but also pose a disease risk. Primates alone can transmit Ebola, tuberculosis, and herpes-B to humans.

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 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, now CEO of both organizations. 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, at Twitter www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and on Facebook facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

San Antonio concert brought attention to Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Texas

Washington D.C., December 16, 2013 -- Rock legends REO Speedwagon hosted a guitar giveaway to support Born Free USA, a leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, at their concert yesterday, December 15, at the Majestic Theater in San Antonio, Texas.  The event raised about $ 3,000 for the organization, which will be used to care for the animals at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Texas.

According to Neal Doughty of REO Speedwagon, “Born Free USA has it right.  Stick to your cats and dogs, some animals are not meant to be pets! Wildlife belongs in the wild."

Audience members at the concert had the opportunity to enter to win a guitar autographed by the members of REO Speedwagon with proceeds benefiting Born Free USA’s Primate Sanctuary.

The 186 acre sanctuary in Dilley, Texas, is home to 630 residents -- 22 baboons, three vervets, and more than 600 macaques.  It is the only one of its kind in the U.S. where the majority of its residents – ages two to thirty-one -- live in free-ranging groups in natural enclosures of several acres, providing a safe, permanent home for its residents, many of whom were rescued from roadside zoos, research facilities, or private possession.

Adam Roberts, Executive Vice President of Born Free USA said, “I have been a fan of REO Speedwagon for a quarter century and I am so thankful for their compassionate support of our work to save wildlife and the attention they are helping us bring to the important issues impacting animals today.  The band has embraced our mission to keep wildlife in the wild, and we are grateful they are on board.”

Born Free USA plans a significant auction of other rock legend guitars throughout 2014.  For more information visit www.bornfreeusa.org.

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 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, now CEO of both organizations. 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, at Twitter twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and one Facebook facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.

Bill would prohibit body-gripping traps on National Wildlife Refuges

Washington, DC, December 2, 2013 --  Born Free USA and The Humane Society of the United States, global leaders in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, applaud U.S. Representative  Nita Lowey (D-NY) for re-introducing the Refuge From Cruel Trapping Act (H.R. 3513), and urge the bill’s swift passage. H.R. 3513 would ban all body-gripping traps — snare, Conibear, and steel-jaw leghold — from being used or possessed on National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs). This humane legislation addresses the inherent cruelty of body-gripping traps and seeks to ensure that all NWRs are safe havens for wildlife.

“The brutality of these barbaric traps is shocking. The animals caught in them suffer an agonizing, prolonged death,” said Adam Roberts, Executive Vice President of Born Free USA. “These animals often remain trapped for days before starving or dying from exposure and massive pain. It is inexcusable to subject any animal to such a fate on lands intended for their preservation.”

Trapped animals can suffer severe physical injury, psychological trauma, thirst, hypothermia, and predation. Some animals chew off their own limbs to escape, only to die days later. The suffering caused by trapping is not limited to target animals, and this bill would also address the tragic “collateral damage” that can occur. Domestic pets, endangered species, and humans often become ensnared in traps, resulting in horrific injury or death. Animals and people should have freedom to enjoy these refuges without that danger.

“National Wildlife Refuges should be places of refuge for animals and the public, and the commercial trapping of animals for their fur pelts is inconsistent with that goal,” said Michael Markarian, Chief Program and Policy Officer for The Humane Society of the United States. “These traps are cruel and indiscriminate, killing or maiming any animal who steps into their path, including endangered species and family pets.”

A staggering 54 percent of the refuges within the National Wildlife Refuge System allow trapping on refuge grounds. H.R. 3513 will help ensure that wild animals will not be exploited on the only lands in the U.S. set aside specifically for their protection. Born Free USA and The Humane Society of the United States urge other members of Congress to follow Representative Lowey’s lead in supporting this compassionate bill.

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 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, now CEO of both organizations. 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, at Twitter twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and one Facebook facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization, rated the most effective by its peers. Since 1954, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. We rescue and care for tens of thousands of animals each year, but our primary mission is to prevent cruelty before it occurs. We're there for all animals, across America and around the world. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty -- on the Web at humanesociety.org.

Bill will allow certified U.S. sanctuaries to rescue primates from abroad

Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Texas, home to 630 primates, would welcome primates from overseas who need lifetime care

Washington, DC (November 21, 2013) – Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, applauds U.S. Representatives  Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR) for introducing the Humane Care for Primates Act late yesterday, and urges the bill’s swift passage. The narrowly-crafted humane legislation seeks to correct an oversight in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regulations governing the importation of nonhuman primates (NHPs), which currently prevent certified sanctuaries from saving animals at risk.

Current CDC regulations allow the importation of primates for “bona fide scientific, educational, or exhibition purposes,” which excludes sanctuaries and prevents needy primates overseas from being rescued by U.S. organizations. Meanwhile, zoos, circuses, universities, and other facilities are fundamentally unhampered in their acquisition of foreign primates.

According to Adam Roberts, Executive Vice President of Born Free USA, “While we always prefer for a wild animal to remain in its natural wild habitat, the reality is that this is not feasible for some primates. Those who have been forced to perform in circuses or held in captivity as pets are discarded when they are no longer ‘useful.’ They are physically and psychologically traumatized, and are likely to be placed in worse conditions or even put to death. If a U.S. sanctuary can rescue even one of these abused animals, then this legal change will be worthwhile.”

"Sanctuaries provide humane, lifetime care of primates, many of whom have been rescued from inhumane conditions," Ellmers said. "Compassionate care for deprived primates is very important to me and I am proud to have spearheaded this common-sense legislation to benefit animals in need."

This bill will require the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to include certified animal sanctuaries within the categories for which primates may be imported in the CDC regulations. Furthermore, the Secretary will establish a certification process for sanctuaries to ensure that only high-quality sanctuaries can participate under this new rule, such as those like the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary, which is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.

“I have championed wildlife protection issues for years, and it has become clear that the needs of neglected and abused primates abroad are the same as those here in the U.S.,” said DeFazio. “America is fortunate to have many accredited sanctuaries capable of making a difference for animals in need and we must ensure that this opportunity is open to them.”

Born Free USA knows first-hand the benefits of this change. The 186-acre Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Dilley, Texas is home to more than 600 primates, most rescued from deplorable circumstances. Roberts explains, “The conditions we have found many of these animals in is truly unimaginable and sickening – small cages in dark basements covered in their own feces. We are happy to be able to provide some of these victims with a large open place to live out their lives in freedom, with proper food and care, social interaction with other primates, and grass and trees for the first time in their lives.”

The Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary has been asked to take in primates from similarly abusive circumstances abroad, but has sadly been unable to do so due to the CDC regulations. In 2011, the Princess Alia Foundation’s New Hope Centre in Amman, Jordan asked Born Free USA to import and provide permanent refuge for three vervet monkeys and nine baboons confiscated from severely inhumane circumstances in zoos and private possession. That same year, the Colobus Trust in South Coast, Diani Beach, Kenya requested that Born Free USA take a yellow baboon who was kept as a pet for two years and had developed behavioral issues, for which he was facing impending euthanasia. Despite being fully equipped to accept and care for these primates for the rest of their lives, as well as the ability to assist a foreign sanctuary in need, the current regulation forced the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary to deny these requests.

The changes this bill would provide are long overdue. Every day that sanctuaries are excluded from the regulations is another day that primates abroad are unable to experience compassionate care in the U.S. “Passage of the Humane Care for Primates Act is the humane decision,” Roberts emphasizes. "These animals are suffering every day and deserve a second chance at life in a true sanctuary.”

This legislation is supported by Born Free USA and The Humane Society of the United States, as well as a number of other organizations including the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, Born Free Foundation (UK), Humane Society Legislative Fund, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Animal Legal Defense Fund, WildLifeRisk, Animals Asia Foundation, Earthtrust, Care for the Wild International, and Lilongwe Wildlife Trust.

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 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, now CEO of both organizations. 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, at Twitter twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and one Facebook facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.

Born Free CEO Will Travers to speak at DC march October 4

Washington D.C., September 27, 2013 -- Born Free USA (www.bornfreeusa.org), a leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, will have a strong presence on Friday, October 4, 2013, at The International March for Elephants, when thousands of people will march in solidarity for elephants in 15 cities around the world in the single largest demonstration of awareness for the species’ imminent extinction.  In addition to the staff of Born Free USA’s DC office marching in Washington, Born Free CEO Will Travers, an international expert on the plight of elephants, will be speaking at the rally, following the march.

According to Travers, “Stopping the slaughter of elephants for their ivory is more critical now than ever before.  With the barbaric act of poaching at record numbers, we could see some beleaguered populations of African elephants disappear in the wild by 2025.  More than 63,000 elephants are known to have been poached since the start of 2012. This is heartbreaking and unacceptable at every level.”

In addition, adds Born Free USA Executive Vice President Adam Roberts, “The brutality and dangers go far beyond the elephants.  Criminal syndicates and terrorist groups are known to be using ivory to fund their barbaric activities, a threat to national and regional security.  It is reported that more than 1,000 wildlife rangers have been killed in the course of protecting wild animals over the last decade.  Protecting elephants from poachers also means protecting the African people.”

The march, which aims to raise global awareness of the illegal ivory trade and its impact on elephant populations, is organized by iworry, a campaign by Kenyan conservation charity The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT).  In addition to Washington DC, 14 other cities are participating:   Arusha, Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Edinburgh, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Munich, Nairobi, New York City, Rome, Toronto, and Wellington.

Born Free maintains a website www.bloodyivory.org which shows what is happening to elephants and encourages the public to lend their voice against the ivory trade.

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, now chief executive officer of both organizations. 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; twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.

Bill will prohibit interstate commerce of monkeys, apes and other primates

Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Texas is home to more than 600 primates, many of whom were previously “pets”

Washington, DC, (July 31, 2013) – Born Free USA, a leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, applauds U.S. Representatives  Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore. and Michael G. Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., for introducing H.R. 2856, the Captive Primate Safety Act, and urges the bill’s swift passage. The bill seeks to prohibit interstate commerce of monkeys, apes and other primates for the exotic pet trade.

Adam Roberts, Executive Vice President of Born Free USA said, “The captive primate trade involves horrific animal suffering and serious threats to human safety. The animals often spend their lives confined in small cages as someone’s ‘pet,’ and face barbaric treatment such as  having their teeth extracted. We cannot allow animals to be mutilated in the name of companionship.  There is no excuse for keeping nonhuman primates as pets. They cannot be domesticated or tamed.  Their natural behavior is dangerous and they belong in the wild, not in someone’s home.”


About half of the states already prohibit private possession of some or all primate species as pets, but primates are easily obtained via the Internet and through out-of-state dealers and auctions, making a federal law necessary to support the efforts of state law enforcement and to promote global conservation efforts. Similar legislation has been passed in the House of Representatives previously.

Infant monkeys used for the pet trade are typically removed from their mothers, as babies are in high demand.  However people quickly discover that primates are extremely active, messy, destructive, and bite. Ultimately, weary of attacks on people and damage to the home, pet monkeys are often relegated to a life of isolation, loneliness, frustration and neglect. When people do decide to relinquish them, there are few places to turn.

The 186 acre Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Dilley Texas, is home to more than 600 primates, some of whom are former “pets”. Roberts explains, “The conditions we have found many of these animals in is truly unimaginable and sickening – small cages in dark basements covered in their own feces. We are happy to be able to provide some of these victims with a large open place to live out their lives in freedom, with proper food and care, social interaction with other primates, and grass and trees for the first time in their lives.”

Since 1990, more than 250 people – including dozens of children – have been injured by primates, and many more incidents go unreported. Primates also pose disease risks, including transmission of Ebola, tuberculosis and herpes-B.  The Born Free USA primate sanctuary exotic incident database www.bornfreeusa.org/database tracks primate incidents as well as other wildlife (lions, tigers, reptiles).  So far in 2013, a dozen incidents have been reported including dangerous escapes in Kansas, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana and injuries to humans in Missouri (six year old boy bitten), and Texas (police officer bitten).

“Passage of the Captive Primate Safety Act cannot happen soon enough.  These animals are suffering every day and humans are in serious danger,” Roberts emphasizes.

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 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, now CEO of both organizations. 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, at Twitter twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and one Facebook facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.

Born Free USA to reimburse family for veterinary bills

Washington, D.C., March 21, 2013 -- The family of “Skeeter,” an eight year old chocolate Labrador mix in Millington, Tennessee, is the latest recipient of financial support from Born Free USA, a national leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation.

Earlier this month, the Wilson family’s dog was playing with another neighbor's dogs when all three dogs ran onto another neighbor’s property where Skeeter was caught in a leghold trap that had been allegedly put out by the property owner with the intent of catching the dogs, who he believed were harassing his chickens.

Skeeter, who was wearing a collar with identification, was then shot at point blank range in the head by the property owner – a local fireman. Mr. Wilson was allegedly not allowed to retrieve Skeeter until authorities arrived. Skeeter was still alive and rushed to a local vet. It was determined he could not be saved and he was euthanized.

According to Adam Roberts, Executive Vice President of Born Free USA, “Born Free USA receives dozens of heartbreaking reports from traumatized victims around the country who have seen their own pet trapped and severely injured or killed by a trap that was set for wildlife. But this is the first time we have encountered a situation where a domestic dog was actually the intended victim. The fact that Skeeter was then shot makes this tragic tale even more despicable.”

According to Bill Wilson, "Skeeter was a fantastic dog - well trained and worth a million dollars to me. I just wish I was half the person he thought I was. We are so grateful to Born Free USA with their assistance in covering Skeeter's veterinary costs. His loss is one from which we'll never fully recover, but knowing there are groups out there fighting the injustice of trapping gives us hope that another family might not have to suffer this kind of cruel loss."

Born Free is providing financial relief via its Trapping Victims Fund in the amount of $180.50 for the exam and X-rays and eventual euthanasia of Skeeter. The Fund was established last year and this is the fifth recipient. Born Free USA established the Fund to help defray emergency veterinary care costs for companion animals or wildlife impacted by traps and for specific costs associated with rehabilitating and releasing a wildlife trapping victim back into the wild.

Born Free USA estimates that over 300,000 non-target animals are the unintended victims of body-crushing wildlife traps and snares set each year. Cats and dogs are often severely injured or killed as a result of the remorseless jaws of traps set for wild animals by trappers who plan to capture them and strip their fur. Born Free USA says that for every target animal trapped an estimated two non-target animals are brutally captured. The organization keeps a database at www.bornfreeusa.org/databse, of non-target victims of traps.

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 the United States 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, now CEO of both organizations. 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; twitter twitter.com/bornfreeusa; Facebook facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.

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