Born Free USA Blog
by Adam M Roberts,
Chief Executive Officer
When it comes to animals, Adam Roberts not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk. Since beginning his animal advocacy career in Washington, D.C. in 1991, Adam's ambition, tireless involvement, and profound knowledge of conservation and wildlife issues have cemented him as a go-to voice for protecting animals — and he has elevated Born Free USA to the respected and impactful organization that we know today. Adam's compassionate, informed, and forward-thinking blogs will surely motivate you to join us in our fight to Keep Wildlife in the Wild.
I have just learned that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has bestowed upon me the honor of OBE — Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire — for services to wildlife conservation and animal welfare. As many of you may know, my mother, Virginia McKenna, had previously received her OBE for contributions to the arts and to animal protection. Just as I share the joy of having started the Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA with her, I now share the honor of receiving this award.
Having just taken part in the rescue of Kebri, the juvenile lion from a remote part of Ethiopia (who is now safely at Ensessakotteh, Born Free’s center, just outside Addis Ababa), I think it is safe to say that Born Free knows a thing or two about rescues.
So when we heard that a zoo in Mexico had "rescued" nine juvenile African elephants faced with certain death in Namibia, we thought we understood what was going on.
This past Saturday our Sacramento staff members threw a party and invited everyone. The occasion? To celebrate the stunning 85-foot-mural of a caged tiger on the side of our downtown building!
Some 500 people showed up to check out the mural up-close, peruse the wares of indie craft vendors, hear the rockin’ sounds of Joy Hammer, eat vegan sandwiches and free vegan pizza, drink beer and learn more about Born Free USA. Sharie Lesniak, our creative director and the driving force behind Saturday’s party, categorized the event as a “friendraiser.”
We’ve just done something rather rash. We acted instinctively, with our hearts not our heads. Let me tell you what we’ve done. I know you’ll understand …
Last week I got a heart-wrenching phone call from Ethiopia. It was Stephen Brend, our project director there. “If we don’t rescue this lion cub, they’re going to shoot him."
In a case where human obstructionism trumps animal protectionism, the World Trade Organization (WTO) earlier this month found that the United States is playing unfair with Mexico by selling tuna that is labeled as “dolphin-friendly.” It is an issue I have tracked for nearly two decades.
Zoos. Don’t get me started.
But what’s that you say? There’s an elephant at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, DC who plays the harmonica. And there’s zoo-provided video footage to prove it?
All right, that got me started.
“It’s obviously very unfortunate.”
That’s what the man in charge said after two cheetahs in his South African reserve attacked a visitor for three minutes, leaving her with multiple lacerations on her head, stomach and legs, and the loss of “a lot of blood.” The victim, a Scottish woman who was celebrating turning 60, had been petting the animals, who had been billed as hand-reared and tame.
Toronto’s City Council last fall approved the transfer of three aging elephants from the local zoo to our good friends at the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s sanctuary not far from Born Free USA’s headquarters in Sacramento. We cheered, because this decision clearly was in the elephants’ best interests.