Born Free USA Blog
by Will Travers,
Chief Executive Officer
What can you say about a big-hearted bloke who has rescued dolphins, tigers, elephants and more and whose parents once helped a lion cub from a department store by caring for him in their backyard and engineering his rightful return to Africa? You can safely say that he's got great animal instincts! In 1984, Will Travers joined his parents — "Born Free" film stars Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers — to form what became The Born Free Foundation. With knowledge, passion and compassion dripping from his every word, Will's blogs are sure to make you embrace our crusade to Keep Wildlife in the Wild ®.
A 1-week-old giant panda recently died at the National Zoo in Washington. The cub, who was born on Sept. 16, had been conceived through artificial insemination. Since a breeding program began at the zoo in the 1970s, at least six cubs have died, with only one surviving to adulthood.
A week ago, the Justice Department announced that two men, and a company owned by one of those men, had pled guilty to several charges related to their participation in the smuggling of rhinoceros horns. Congratulations to the DOJ for its fine work in rounding up these culprits.
The Indianapolis Zoo this week broke ground on a $20 million orangutan exhibit. The mayor and governor were there to tout “the most innovative zoo exhibit in the entire world.”
Well, that’s certainly a low standard. And from what I hear about the project, it sounds like just another crass exploitation of wild animals for commercial gain, pitched to the public with hyperventilated (but dubious) claims of conservation and education.
The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance has announced that Born Free USA is one of the Top 10 anti-trapping organizations in the country.
I am overwhelmed with emotion. We are humbled to be honored in this way, and so very grateful. There are so many people to thank, but I will try to be brief in my acceptance remarks.
As you know, our overriding organizational goal is to Keep Wildlife In The Wild®. We’re so committed to that philosophy that we have registered the phrase!
We come at the issue from several directions, including outreach and education, legislation and lobbying, and grassroots activism. We also invest in wildlife protection on the ground.
Today I appeared on CNN International to debate the merit of caging animals in zoos versus saving them in the wild. My exchange with Dr. Andrew Marshall of the University of York followed a predictable course — until his jaw-dropping final statement, to which I did not have an opportunity to respond. I’ll take the opportunity to do so here.
When we learned last week that a restaurant in Wichita, Kansas, was offering an “ultimate dining experience” that included African lion meat, we decided to get our supporters involved in a campaign to flood the restaurant with protests.
So now we know the truth: California Superior Court Judge John L. Segal has forbidden the use of bullhooks and electric shocks to control or train Tina, Jewel and Billy, the three elephants at the Los Angeles Zoo’s $42 million "Elephants of Asia" exhibit. The soil, which has been compared by some experts with concrete, needs to be broken up to reduce the impact on their joints and feet and they require that the zoo exercise the three elephants for at least two hours a day in their postage-stamp-size (2.6-acre) enclosure.