For Immediate Release

Born Free USA's "Pets Go Wild for Wildlife" Photo Contest Calling for Cats and Dogs Acting Wild

Washington D.C. August 27, 2015 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, has announced its “Pets Go Wild for Wildlife” photo contest, seeking photos of furry family members acting “wild”: running like a cheetah, swimming like an orca, leaping like a gazelle, pouncing like a fox… or just going "wild" in general. 

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “We work to keep wildlife in the wild – but all of us at Born Free also love our dogs and cats and know that our supporters and the public do too. We thought this would be a fun, creative way to celebrate all animals and share their antics with terrific photos.  Also, by noticing and capturing the moments your dog or cat acts ‘wild,’ we hope you will consider the connection between domestic animals and wild animals. Your cat and the big cats in the jungle. Your dog and the majestic wolf.  They are not all that different, and they all deserve our compassion.”

Entrants can submit as many photos as they would like. The contest is open to dogs and cats only. The three photos with the most votes receive prizes. First place prize is the winner's choice between an iPad or an Apple Watch. Prizes will also be awarded for the top voted dog, top voted cat, most "promotes" through the contest site, and Born Free USA staff favorite. An entrant can only win for one category.  The fee to enter is $10 per photo entry and $1 per vote to participate in the contest.  Each contribution helps Born Free USA raise needed funds to continue life-saving work for wildlife around the globe.   Contest DEADLINE is September 25, 2015 at 12 Noon ET.   

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.

Campaign features new website, short video voiced by actress Selma Blair, and children’s storybook

Washington, D.C., August 17, 2015 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, has launched a new educational campaign for children called “What Elephants Like” (www.whatelephantslike.org). The aim is to help parents start an important conversation about the delicate issue of elephant suffering, without using any graphic language or images. The initiative includes an interactive website; a powerful 30 second video voiced by actress Selma Blair; and a children’s storybook, all designed and produced for Born Free USA by Goodby Silverstein & Partners. 

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “The shocking mistreatment of wild animals used for entertainment has gone on far too long. The goal of this initiative is to provide families with attractive, kid-friendly, non-graphic tools that can help promote an age-appropriate, meaningful conversation. Born Free is dedicated to empowering future conservationists by helping them understand at a young age what is happening in wildlife conservation, and learn how they can make a difference. Elephants—and all wild animals—belong in the wild, and no one is too young to understand that.”

The 30 second video features five elephants, with one attempting to stand on a barrel in the wild. The message is that elephants in entertainment have no choice and are forced to do something that is unnatural. 

The storybook, What Elephants Like, by Joel Lugar, produced by Born Free USA, with illustrations by Evan Schultz and Tyler Jensen, is a beautiful children’s book that appropriately entertains and enlightens readers with the message of keeping wildlife in the wild. The book is available at www.whatelephantslike.org as a free e-book, downloadable PDF, and coloring book, and can be purchased ($15.99, softcover, color, 8" x 10", 28 pages) at www.createspace.com/4856106.

The website also offers fun facts about elephants and more information about how people can get involved. 

Roberts adds, “The goal for the book, video, and website is to explain that these are extraordinary animals, and when you see them confined behind bars or forced to do tricks and perform, it is not natural, humane, or acceptable. We want kids to understand that these highly intelligent, sensitive, gentle giants deserve to thrive in the wild.” 

Fun Facts about Elephants

  • There are three species of elephant: African savannah, African forest, and Asian.
  • Elephants live in family groups that combine to form herds.
  • Elephant family groups are matriarchal, which means that one of the older females is the leader.
  • Elephants are very social. They like to hang out with other elephants and communicate in various ways, from loud trumpeting to low rumbling (so low that humans can't even hear it) that other elephants can hear more than two miles away.
  • Elephants use their trunks for a lot of different things, including reaching for food, blowing water onto their backs to cool off, and even as a snorkel for breathing while under water.
  • Elephants can live up to 70 years in the wild.
  • Elephants are happier in the wild; they should live free. But, they are at risk of being captured for circuses and zoos, or being killed by poachers for their ivory tusks.
  • They are herbivores, meaning they only eat plants like grass, fruit, bark, and twigs.
  • They use their tusks to dig and find water, clear pathways through the forest, shake fruit out of trees, and make scratches on tree trunks to mark their territory.

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 Renews Call for Decisive Action Following Tragic Death of Cecil the Lion

         

Global wildlife charity urges U.S. and EU governments to ban trophy imports and lion hunting

Washington D.C., July 31, 2015 -- Following the tragic and reportedly illegal killing of Cecil the lion, Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA today called on the U.S. Government and European Union to take urgent steps to end the import of lion trophies and for an international moratorium on lion hunting.

The global outcry following Cecil’s death has sent shock waves across the world and has further ignited the political and public debate on the plight of wild lions and the inhumane actions of sport hunters. 

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron have made very public declarations to stop the illegal wildlife trade. Born Free is concerned that this may not be implemented fast enough. Current estimates suggest there are barely more than 30,000 lions remaining across Africa and localized or regionalized extinctions in the next decade are a real possibility.

President of the Born Free Foundation, Will Travers OBE, has publicly called on the hunters to lay down their weapons of mass destruction. “Cecil's story has sickened and saddened us all. We can no longer accept that hunting magnificent wild animals for ‘sport’ can be deemed acceptable. Cecil's death was brutal and it showed no respect for this iconic symbol of Africa. Trophy hunting is no sport; it is merely a disguise for killing to massage an ego.”

Born Free is calling on the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to release its Final Rule on the petition to list the lion as ‘endangered’ under the United States Endangered Species Act, first submitted by Born Free and others in March 2011. Listing under the ESA would prohibit wounding, harming, harassing, killing, or trading in lions, except under certain very limited conditions, and would add significant protection for lions across their range.

Further, Born Free is calling on U.S. Government prosecutors to explore whether legal action against Walter Palmer is warranted under the Lacey Act, which prohibits transport of wildlife specimens if they were taken illegally in their place of origin.

According to Adam M Roberts, CEO of Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA, “The U.S. Government has a responsibility to take decisive action to prevent another incident such as this from ever happening again. For four years we have waited for a final decision on our petition to list the lion – there is no more time to wait.”

Roberts addressed the issue of trophy hunting specifically, saying, “The figures don't stack up. The value to Africa's economy from wildlife tourism vastly outpaces any sum accrued from hunting. Trophy hunting is an elitist activity practiced by very wealthy people, with the income benefiting a small number of stakeholders The future is in conserving Africa's wildlife, not killing it. The future is in conserving Africa’s wildlife, not destroying it.”

There is very little evidence that the proceeds of trophy hunting benefits conservation or local communities in the hunting areas, with as little as 3% or less of the revenue generated trickling down. Lions and other charismatic wildlife are worth far more alive than dead to Zimbabwe’s tourism industry. In Zimbabwe it is estimated that trophy hunting generates only 3.2% of total tourism revenue.

As further details emerged as to Palmer’s callous actions and how this proud dominant male lion was dismembered, the brutal reality of the business of lion hunting was graphically exposed to the world. The practices of canned hunting operations have also been thrown under the spotlight, with allegations that lions are often drugged and baited to make them easier prey. Fuelled by their sensational appetite for trophies, the demography of hunters, who mainly stem from the U.S., pay thousands of dollars for their kill.

Across Africa, lion populations have reduced by more than 50% since 1980, and in much of its range the declines have been far higher. Lions have disappeared altogether from at least 12 African countries, and possibly as many as 16, in recent years and only inhabit a fragmented 8% of their historic range.

Cecil was collared and was being monitored as part of a conservation study by WildCRU (Wildlife Conservation and Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford) - a group supported by Born Free.  All the evidence shows that Cecil was illegally pulled out of a national park, where he lived a protected existence, to an area where he could be shot. This illegal act was paid for by Palmer. This lion was left in severe pain for many hours before he was finally shot.  

Virginia McKenna OBE, a name synonymous with lions and star of the wildlife classic Born Free summed up the feelings of millions around the world: “This whole story is like some terrible nightmare. The power of money, the ego of man, the lack of compassion for and real understanding of wild creatures, the concept of hunting as a "sport". I thought we tried to instil kindness and respect in our children. Perhaps Mr. Palmer thinks differently. But if what I heard today is true - that after killing Cecil he asked if they could find him an elephant - the future he faces is bleak indeed.”

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 habitat, 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 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.

Groups Urge President Xi Jinping to Ban Ivory Sales and Trade as an Immediate Priority

Washington D.C., July 9, 2015 -- In a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping, members of the Species Survival Network (SSN) have given a cautious welcome to the announcement by China that it will “strictly control ivory processing and trade until the commercial processing and sale of ivory and its products are eventually halted.”

SSN’s letter to the Chinese President urges him to end the domestic ivory trade in China as an immediate priority, inform his citizens of the importance of the measure, and use his influence to encourage leaders in other countries with a domestic ivory trade to do the same.

According to Will Travers OBE, President of SSN and the Born Free Foundation, “An immediate ban on the importation and sale of all ivory in China would be the single most valuable, effective and unequivocal action that could be taken to end the elephant poaching crisis in Africa.”

As many as 30,000 African elephants, and probably more, are being killed by poachers each year across Africa for their ivory. As a consequence, populations of forest elephants in central Africa are thought to have been reduced by almost two-thirds in the past decade. Further, the ongoing pan-African elephant census has highlighted huge losses of elephants in a number of countries, most recently in Mozambique which has lost almost half of its elephants over the past 5 years. In Tanzania, a reduction of 60%, or more than 65,000 animals, is reported to have occurred over the same period.

Although international trade in ivory was effectively banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix I listing of African elephants in 1989, China is one of a number of countries that continues to permit domestic trade in ivory. It has also consistently been identified as the principal destination for both legally and illegally obtained ivory since CITES permitted China to import 62 tons of ivory in a “one-off sale” in 2008. The closure of domestic ivory markets is seen as an essential component of efforts to control elephant poaching.

China has already taken steps to destroy parts of its ivory stockpile. Six tonnes of ivory were crushed in Guangdong province in January 2014 and a further 662kg in Beijing in May this year, coupled with similar decisions in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in May 2014. However on April 29, 2015, a few weeks before the recent ivory destruction, China issued a new list of 34 ivory processing factories and 130 sales outlets, with authorizations valid until the end of 2016 and subject to renewal.

The Species Survival Network (SSN), founded in 1992, is an international coalition of over one hundred non-governmental organizations committed to the promotion, enhancement, and strict enforcement of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Through scientific and legal research, education and advocacy, the SSN is working to prevent over-exploitation of animals and plants due to international trade. www.ssn.org.

Caged in a metal beast wagon, Born Free wants to rehome Jora and Black to South African sanctuary

Washington D.C., July 6, 2015 -- Today, an appeal for the rescue of Bulgaria's last two circus lions was launched by the Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA, in a bid to secure their relocation to the international wildlife charity's sanctuary at Shamwari, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.

Jora and Black (due to the latter’s distinguishing black mane) are two, seven-year-old lions known to be brothers. They are caged in a metal beast wagon in the back yard of an ex-circus trainer's remote mountain lodge near the capital, Sofia.  With no readily available water supply or shade, and pending summer temperatures that will turn their barred container into oven temperatures, these animal’s terrible plight has made international headlines and pulled at the heartstrings of animal lovers around the world.

According to legendary actress and animal activist Virginia McKenna OBE, co-founder of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “It is hard to exaggerate how the heat of the summer will affect these magnificent animals in their cramped quarters but, on the positive side, we are very pleased that their owners have agreed to Born Free rehoming them in one of our sanctuaries. We do hope that, with public support, this will become a reality. They certainly deserve, at last, to walk on grass and rest in the shade of trees.”

The lions were taken in as small cubs and were part of a traditional circus act travelling Eastern Europe and Turkey. They performed until the end of summer 2014, but due to a government ban that came into force at the beginning of the year, Bulgaria now prohibits the use of wild animals in circuses - a move that has been widely welcomed by animal welfare experts.

Jora and Black's elegant feline features are in stark contrast to the shabby tin can cage that has been their home for many years. With little to no environmental enrichment, and with each cage measuring some 2.5 meters, it barely allows them to move around as they stare out and intermittently nuzzle and paw each other.

Dr. John Knight, Born Free's Senior Veterinary Consultant added, “Although they appear to be in good health, the conditions in which they live are totally inappropriate. Jora is lame and once he is in our care we will be able to give him the required examinations and treatments.”

Born Free is now actively working with the owners, who are co-operating, to secure Jora and Black's future, and a move to Born Free’s renowned rescue centre at Shamwari, which is already home to a number of lions and leopards rescued from a dire life in captivity.

Black and Jora video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=polL5v5x7Os

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 urges greater protection for Africa’s lions following confirmation of catastrophic population declines

International science body highlights dire status of King of the Jungle

 

Following the release yesterday of a lion assessment by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA are urging immediate international action to halt catastrophic recent declines in lion populations across Africa.

In its most up-to-date assessment of the species, IUCN, the world’s oldest and largest global environmental scientific organisation, reported devastating reductions in lion populations across much of the African continent. The new assessment revealed:

  • The number of lions across Africa has reduced by approximately 42% over the past 21 years (approximately three lion generations, 1993-2014)
  • Excluding Namibia, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, lions across the rest of Africa have declined by an average 60%
  • In West Africa, the declines suggest lions should be classified as Critically Endangered
  • Lions have disappeared altogether from at least 12, possibly up to 16, African countries in recent years.

“The IUCN reassessment confirms what we have known for some time: that lions are in serious decline across much of Africa,” said Adam M. Roberts, Chief Executive of the Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA.

“The trade data suggests that international trade in lion parts and products is putting pressure on these vulnerable lion populations, which they clearly can’t sustain. We call on the international community to increase the protection for lions from the impact of trade through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to issue its long-overdue final rule on listing the lion as endangered under the US Endangered Species Act.”

Trade in lions and lion parts has been increasing. According to the official CITES trade database, from 2009 to 2013 the total number of lions and lion parts exported doubled compared to the previous five year period. The figures reveal particularly worrying increases in the trade in lion bones and skeletons (presumably to supply demand for Asian traditional medicines and tonics), skins, and trophies from captive bred animals.

“These iconic animals can’t wait,” added Roberts. “Lions used to roam all over Africa, west Asia and even southern Europe. Now we risk seeing them disappear from much of their remaining sub-Saharan African range. We cannot sit by and watch this species disappear under our watch.”

Born Free is working with the United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and African lion experts to improve collaboration between African range states on lion conservation, identify the reasons for the reported declines, and help range states to reverse them.

About 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. 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 habitat, 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

Bill will provide vital funds for conservation of vulnerable wild cats and dogs

Washington, DC, June 10, 2015 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, applauds Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) for introducing H.R. 2697, legislation to provide essential funding for the conservation of wild cats and dogs (felids and canids). Many of these wild species, once considered common, are now in decline due to pervasive threats such as habitat loss and disease. The long-term survival of many wild felids and canids is in serious jeopardy of survival.

Of the 37 wild felid species worldwide, all but three are currently recognized as species in need of protection. Of the 36 wild canid species worldwide, 20 are recognized as in need of such protection. 

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation: “Reversing the global decline of felid and canid species demands a profound international investment and I commend Representative Grijalva for taking action. Felid and canid species around the world are simply unable to cope with the endless barrage of threats before them, including hunting, disease, and habitat destruction. Reversing the population declines that most of these species face requires the conservation leadership long shown by the U.S. government.”

The bill is based on other crucial laws enacted to conserve African and Asian elephants, tigers, rhinos, great apes, marine turtles, and migratory birds. The projects funded by these successful laws have produced marked results and significantly aided vulnerable species.

“Humans have been killing these species, destroying their habitats and driving them away for far too long, and the damage done to the world around us speaks for itself,” Grijalva said. “The best science we have, combined with a healthy respect for nature, demands that we pass this bill. At the end of the day, if we don’t protect these species, they’ll disappear and take large food chains with them. We’ll have nowhere to look but the mirror to understand the cause.”

Lions and Ethiopian wolves are of particular concern to Born Free USA.  An estimated 32,000 or fewer lions remain across Africa, which represents more than a 50% decline since 1980. They face indiscriminate poisoning, shrinking habitats, lack of prey species, trophy hunting, poaching, and illegal trade. The survival of the West African lion is in particular peril; they face possible extinction with only 400 remaining.  With fewer than 500 adult Ethiopian wolves, this species is one of the rarest carnivores in the world. Living in small, isolated populations within Afroalpine regions of Ethiopia, these wolves are severely threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, rabies, and hybridization with domestic dogs.

“There must be resources available so that meaningful action can be undertaken to protect these and other species,” said Roberts. “West African Lions, Ethiopian wolves, and other imperiled felids and canids are running out of time. I strongly urge members of Congress to support the Rare Cats and Canids Act and ensure its swift passage.”

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.

Ban is critical to save animals from extinction

Washington D.C., June 8, 2015 -- A coalition of leading animal welfare organizations including Born Free USA, MSPCA-Angell, Zoo New England, International Fund for Animal Welfare, The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, have joined together to encourage the passage of legislation to ban the sale of ivory and rhinoceros horn in Massachusetts.

Senate Bill 440 and House Bill 1275, introduced by Senator Jason Lewis and Representative Lori Ehrlich, would ban the sale of ivory and rhino horn in Massachusetts, a critical step in the fight to save these animals from extinction. Ninety-six Massachusetts legislators have signed on as co-sponsors.

African elephants and rhinos are being killed at an unprecedented rate as demand for their tusks and horns continues to grow. Between 2010 and 2012, 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory — representing the worst mass slaughter of elephants since the international ivory trade was banned in 1989.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “The elephant poaching epidemic across Africa has reached crisis levels and rhino poaching is escalating exponentially. The U.S. is a major ivory market, and we cannot afford to wait any longer to take action. Senator Lewis and Representative Ehrlich's timely action addresses the market for these products, which is a crucial part of ending the slaughter.”

“Massachusetts has the opportunity to lead during this critical time for elephants and rhinos. By banning the sale of elephant ivory and rhino horns, Massachusetts can also raise consumer awareness, reduce poaching and be an example for other states and other countries,” said Cynthia Mead, Zoo New England executive vice president of external affairs and programming.

"Although this problem might seem like only an African tragedy, our actions here at home make a huge difference abroad. Elephants are the only ones who need ivory; rhinos are the only ones who need their horns. Massachusetts doesn't need either,” said Azzedine Downes, IFAW President and CEO.

“With this alarming rate of poaching, African elephants could be gone from the wild in a few decades,” said Iris Ho, wildlife program manager for Humane Society International. “The situation is also devastating for rhinos as all five remaining rhino species are threatened with extinction. The very true possibility of disappearance of these majestic animals over human greed for vanity items is a moral and ecological disaster.”

As documented in Born Free USA’s groundbreaking reports, Ivory’s Curse and Out of Africa, poaching is not only a wildlife conservation and animal welfare issue but also directly linked to transnational criminal syndicates. Furthermore, the scale of poaching today supplies a $7-10 billion wildlife trafficking enterprise that is intertwined with terrorism and government corruption.  These groups use poaching as a substantial source of funding for their brutal activities, which also threatens U.S. national security.

“The proposed legislation would neither criminalize possession of ivory already legally owned by Massachusetts residents, nor would it prohibit inheritance or noncommercial ivory gifts,” said Laura Hagen, deputy director of advocacy for the MSPCA-Angell.  “But it would help stop the killing, trafficking and demand that is driving these iconic species to extinction—and that is essential if they are to have a chance at survival.”

New York and New Jersey passed similar laws last year.  A host of states, including, California, Connecticut, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont have similar pending legislation to shut down the ivory and rhino horn trade in their jurisdictions.

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.

H.R. 2016/S.1081would prohibit body-gripping traps on National Wildlife Refuges

Washington, DC, April 27, 2015 – Today, leading animal welfare and wildlife conservation organizations -- Born Free USA, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) –  announced support for the reintroduction of the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act (H.R. 2016/S.1081) in both the U.S. House of Representatives by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and the U.S. Senate  by Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.). This bill would ban the use or possession of all body-gripping animal traps -- including snares, Conibear traps, and steel-jaw leghold traps -- on lands within the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS).

Born Free USA, AWI, and IFAW commend Congresswoman Lowey and Senator Booker for backing the bill and urge swift passage of the legislation to ensure that all National Wildlife Refuges are safe havens for wildlife.

“Indiscriminate body-gripping traps on public land affect the welfare of wild animals and humans alike,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “That’s why I reintroduced the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act to prohibit the use of inhumane steel jaw leghold traps, Conibear kill traps, and snares within our National Wildlife Refuge System. We need to address this inherent cruelty and restore the true meaning of ‘refuge.’”

"The use of body-gripping animal traps in federal wildlife refuges is contrary to the very mission and purpose of these protected areas. These cruel traps don't distinguish between targeted animals and protected animals, endangered species or pets, and are a safety hazard to people. It's past time to remove this antiquated and inhumane practice from federal wildlife refuges," said Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J).

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “Animals and people should have the freedom to enjoy these Refuges without the threat of stepping into a body-gripping trap. The brutality of these traps is shocking; they can crush limbs and organs, and animals often remain trapped for days, in massive pain, before dying. It is inexcusable to subject any animal to such a fate on lands intended for their preservation.”

The NWRS encompasses the most comprehensive and diverse collection of fish and wildlife habitats in the world, and provides a home for more than 240 endangered species. Overall, the NWRS harbors species of more than 700 birds, 220 mammals, 250 reptiles and amphibians, and 200 fish. Despite the NWRS’ mission “to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans,” a staggering 54 percent of the refuges within the system allow trapping on refuge grounds.

"Body-gripping traps slam closed with bone-crushing force on any animal that trips the device, while strangling snares tighten around the neck or body of their victims until death finally ends the torture. This cruelty should not be permitted in any place that is called a ‘refuge,’” said Cathy Liss, president of AWI. “Passage of this legislation would be a crucial step toward reducing the suffering inflicted on our nation’s wildlife.”

IFAW Campaigns Officer Carson Barylak added, “The Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act will put a stop to the use of cruel and ecologically destructive traps on wildlife refuges, allowing these public lands to serve their intended purpose--preserving wildlife and ensuring that all Americans can enjoy our shared natural heritage on refuges.” 

Born Free USA, AWI, and IFAW assert that animals and people should have freedom to enjoy National Wildlife Refuges without that danger present, and urge other members of Congress to join Congresswoman Lowey and Sen. Booker in support of H.R. 2016/S.1081.

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, the organization 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.

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) is a non-profit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. For more information on AWI, visit www.awionline.org.

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Winning poems from children in CA and IL

 

Washington, D.C., January 5, 2015 -- Today, Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, announced the winners of the 13th annual National Bird Day poetry contest. In the fall, children ages 5 to 18 were invited to submit original poems around the theme “Poetry Uncaged,” reflecting the plight of exotic birds in captivity, the pet bird trade, and the dangers to birds in the wild: the focus of National Bird Day (January 5, 2015). Winning submissions came from children in California and Illinois.

The winning poems were posted today on the Born Free USA and National Bird Day websites and will be featured in an upcoming issue of Born Free USA’s national magazine, Animal Issues Digest. The children also received tee shirts, DVDs, and more.

The first place winner from the 5 to 12 year old age group is Jacelyn Freitas, age 11, of CA. Her poem, “A Duck Named Phillip,” begins with the poignant line: “I am a duck that is stuck in a cage with no friends to play with.”

 

The first place winner from the 13 to 18 year old age group is Alyssa Graveline, age 17, of IL. In her poem, “Happier Free,” she implores: “Let me find treetops, & fly from them when I just have that urge to meet the sky again.”

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “We are impressed by the scope and creativity of these children and their understanding of the plight of birds. Our judges enjoyed reading the poems and had a tough time making their final decisions! We are thrilled that future conservationists—these young children—can help spread the word that birds belong in the wild, and help National Bird Day continue to be a success. We thank them and their parents for entering the contest.”

National Bird Day is when Born Free USA, in conjunction with Avian Welfare Coalition, focuses on issues critical to the protection and survival of captive and wild birds. The annual initiative features education and action to stop the international trade in wild birds, raise awareness about standards of care for birds who have been adopted as pets, and push for a deeper respect and understanding about the plight of all birds.

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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