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.
Some years ago, two well-meaning US citizens, a husband and wife, adopted a baby chimpanzee. They brought him up as if he was a child. When he got too big he was re-homed to a refuge and they visited him almost every birthday.
Some years later the couple asked the owner of the refuge whether they could go in with this now fully grown male chimp to celebrate his birthday — into a cage he shared with several other chimps. The result? The woman escaped with serious injuries. The man was beaten to within an inch of his life, losing fingers, toes and other parts of his body in the process.
It makes me mad!
Instead of listening to the wisdom of some of the world’s greatest elephant experts, with hundreds of years of combined experience and expertise, 11 of the 15 Los Angeles City Council members bought the vague promises of LA Zoo authorities and voted to continue the controversial and meager Pachyderm Forest for Billy, the zoo’s solitary male Asian elephant and others the zoo now hopes to acquire. Less than 4 acres. A staggering $42 million price tag.
Yesterday I flew to Los Angeles to assess for myself the situation of Billy, the sole elephant at the LA Zoo. Billy lives on less than half an acre of compacted soil and mud. The zoo proposes to spend $42 million to construct a new exhibit area and bring in more elephants.
In my view and the view of numerous experts who spent a lifetime studying elephants, what Billy endures now and what is proposed by the LA Zoo for Billy fall woefully short of what could and should be achieved for this unfortunate animal. Regardless of what criteria you wish to apply — space, social environment, physical and psychological needs, financial, conservation, education — what Billy has at the LA Zoo and what is being proposed by way of the exorbitantly expensive Pachyderm Forest — a misnomer if ever I heard one — is totally inappropriate and inadequate.
A nation — a world — listened and watched in expectation. The 44th President of the United States of America, the focus of our undivided attention.
President Barack Obama asked for patience. He asked for understanding. He asked for tolerance and compassion. But above all he asked for help.
So the first deadly piece of the puzzle has been put in place. Just under 8 tonnes of Namibian ivory went under the hammer for about $1.3m. One hundred tonnes more will soon follow from three other southern African countries.
Economic meltdown, stock market crash, panic on Main Street, Wall Street, High Street ... It makes me wonder where to turn to for security.
What is the point of the animals being in the zoo in the first place?
(Reporting from CITES in Geneva)
When is an elephant like a fish? I was wondering about this today ... why?