Coat made from 20 foxes to be repurposed as part of Born Free USA’s global Fur for the Animals campaign

Washington, D.C., August 8, 2016 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, recently received what was thought to be a lynx fur coat as part of the Born Free USA Fur for the Animals campaign. After further investigation at a furrier by Born Free USA, it was determined to be an arctic fox fur coat, dyed to look like a lynx, made from up to 20 fox pelts originating in Finland. Born Free USA sent the coat to the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona, California, where it and other fur donations from the campaign are being used to comfort 28 orphaned coyote pups and additional baby wildlife.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “Without a doubt, the foxes who died for this coat were born and held in miserable captivity on a Finnish fur farm. They were not allowed to run, play, or feed naturally. Simply put, they were not allowed to be foxes; their paws almost certainly never even touched the grass. Instead, they would have been driven mad by spending their entire lives in crowded, unsanitary, and painful wire cages: a fate shared by the millions of animals imprisoned in fur farms today.”

Due to the global success of Born Free USA’s Fur for the Animals campaign, the organization continues to receive fur donations every week from people who refuse to wear fur they have acquired: coats, stoles, hats, scarves, rugs, pillows, toys, etc. After receiving them, Born Free USA ships the items to wildlife rehabilitators across the country to use for supporting and comforting the baby animals in their care.

“Fur only comes from tortuous death,” Roberts explains. “The methods fur farms use to kill their victims are unspeakably cruel. Now, this coat that came from so much cruelty will be used to comfort coyote pups who, once rehabilitated, will potentially get the chance to live full lives in the wild. While the symmetry and symbolism is not lost on us, it would be far better if these foxes never had to die for fashion in the first place.”  

The lynx-dyed fox coat was included in a large shipment of fur donations Born Free USA sent to the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center. The center is currently caring for 28 orphaned coyote pups, many themselves victims of wildlife conflict and lethal control. The parents of six of these pups were killed for getting ‘too close’ to a residential neighborhood. Two others were found wandering alone after their mother was hit and killed by a car.

According to Ali Crumpacker, Director of The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center, “This coat, which needlessly killed so many animals, will now help many more on their journey to recovery and rerelease into the wild. While we are grateful for the opportunity to give a better ending to this tragic story, we continue to hope for a future in which fur is never taken from its original owner, and wildlife conflicts are resolved in a humane manner that doesn’t result in overwhelming numbers of vulnerable, orphaned wildlife.”

In addition to the coat, Born Free USA has shipped other donated fur pieces to The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center over the past year, which has helped comfort: 54 skunks, 141 Virginia opossums, 38 coyotes, 4 bobcats, 5 bears, 1 gray fox, 1 mountain lion, and dozens of others in need.

About Born Free USA: 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 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.

About The Fund for Animals: The Fund for Animals operates the nation’s largest and most diverse network of animal care centers. An affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States, The Fund for Animals provides hands-on care and safe haven for more than 3,000 animals representing 150 species each year, including those rescued from cruelty and neglect, victims of the exotic pet trade, injured and orphaned wildlife, refugees from research labs, and many more, and works to prevent cruelty through advocacy and education. For more information, visit fundforanimals.org. The Fund for Animals’ animal care centers include · Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Texas · Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in California · Cape Wildlife Center in Massachusetts · Duchess Sanctuary in Oregon.

 

“People put themselves in grave danger when they respond inappropriately during an encounter with wildlife… Selfies are only making the problem worse.” - Born Free USA CEO

Washington, D.C., July 21, 2016 -- According to Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, in order to safely enjoy hikes and campouts without endangering themselves or wildlife, the public needs to stay alert to their surroundings, and make smart and compassionate decisions.

Over the past two months alone, we have seen an increasing number of incidents involving human conflicts with wild animals, particularly bears. In June, a Pennsylvania man lost his dog after a fatal run-in with a black bear and her cubs; a New Mexico marathon runner suffered injuries from a black bear after inadvertently scaring the bear’s cub; a young bear in California ripped open a tent, presumably foraging for food, injuring the camper inside; and a Montana Forest Service law enforcement officer startled a grizzly bear and was tragically killed. In July, Shenandoah National Park made the decision to close certain trails after a black bear approached a hiker, again looking to the human to provide food.

Animal welfare and wildlife conservation expert Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, explains: “Hiking trails and campsites are filled with natural wildlife populations and it is crucial that enthusiasts are aware of potential encounters, understand how to avoid conflict, and know exactly what to do if it happens. Human conflicts with wildlife are often due to people responding inappropriately when an animal is near. They put the animal and themselves at severe risk by how they react when they see a bear, coyote, bobcat, or other dangerous animal. These animals are wild, wary of humans, and protective of their territory, and should never be lured or encouraged to approach you for any reason.”

Roberts adds, “In the last two years, there has been an increase in people vying for an impressive selfie with animals ranging from seal pups, to bison, to black bears. This is becoming a dangerous epidemic that is reckless and harmful for both the public and wildlife. No selfie is worth getting killed or condemning an animal to death.”

Born Free USA offers these safety tips for outdoor adventures:

  • Keep food out of reach and never feed wild animals. Once they become accustomed to hand-outs, they lose their natural wariness and feel comfortable getting closer to humans. 
  • Resist taking wildlife selfies. Getting close to predators—like black bears—and then turning your back on them can rouse their prey drive and cause them to charge. Even getting too close to non-predatory animals—like bison—for a photo opportunity can also result in tragedy, as they might perceive you as an encroaching threat. Manipulating, touching, or removing wild animals from their habitats for a photo, or for any reason, causes severe anxiety for the animal, and puts everyone at risk for injury or death.
  • Beware of hidden animal traps. Steel-jaw leghold traps and other barbaric traps are widely used to catch and kill wild animals for their fur, and trappers often use the same trails and public lands that hikers do. Because traps are indiscriminate and can snap shut on any person or animal who triggers them, they frequently catch “non-targeted” animals, including family pets. Dogs end up maimed or killed as their families struggle to free them. For every target animal caught in a trap, two non-target animals are trapped. Adults and children have also been injured in traps, as reported in this Born Free USA database.  
  • Bears cause enormous fear for humans in the great outdoors. Most negative black bear encounters are caused by surprising the bears, luring them with food, or giving them a reason to think you are a threat. Bears have an exceptional sense of smell —seven times more powerful than dogs—and can detect odors over a mile away. Avoid packing odorous food and use bear-proof, odor-proof containers. Do not leave food or ice chests on decks or in vehicles, and become familiar with techniques for hanging food out of bears' reach. (Hang food and scented items at least 10 feet off of the ground and five feet from a tree. Be sure that tents, sleeping bags, and clothes are free of lingering food odors.)
  • As you travel through bear territory, make plenty of noise to avoid surprising a bear. If you do encounter a black bear, help him/her recognize that you are a human by talking calmly and by slowly waving your arms. During the encounter, do not make loud noises, try to imitate the bear, or run, as running may entice the bear to chase you. Slowly back away, always facing the bear, making no sudden movements, and always leave the bear an escape route. Avoid direct eye contact and pick up small children to prevent them from running and screaming. Contain and restrain dogs.
  • A black bear may stand on his/her hind legs as he/she investigates you; a standing bear is usually curious, not aggressive. Black bears may pounce forward on their front feet and bellow loudly, followed by clacking their jaw. This is a sign of fear. Mothers with cubs sometimes make “bluff charges”: short rushes or a series of forward pounces. These are signs of nervousness and not intent to attack. If this happens, momentarily hold your ground. Then, keep backing away and talking softly.
  • While camping or hiking, other predators (like coyotes and bobcats) may also be seen moving about their territory. If the animals act afraid of you, either running away or observing you from a safe distance, they are displaying normal, nonaggressive behavior. Aggressive behavior—an animal who does not run from humans or approaches them—is most often a result of habituation due to feeding by humans. If approached by a coyote or bobcat, make loud noises with pots and pans, yell, wave your arms, blow a whistle, or shake a can with rocks. Show dominance and re-instill their natural fear of humans. Do not run, as this may elicit a chase response. If hiking with dogs in coyote country, keep them on a leash. Small dogs may be especially tempting to a coyote. 

Roberts explains, “While we all deserve to explore, enjoy, and appreciate nature, we also need to understand that we are visiting the natural habitats and homes of wild animals. We can easily co-exist, as long as we treat the wilderness and its occupants respectfully and thoughtfully.”

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.

 

Network puts animals, the show’s cast, and crew at risk; ignores requests to consider humane alternatives

“We know the television industry is better than this and would never want a tragedy to occur.” – Born Free USA CEO

Washington, D.C., June 29, 2016 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in wildlife conservation and animal welfare, condemns the CBS Television Network for its use of live exotic animals in the series Zoo. The second season, which premiered last night, reportedly continues to use big cats, wolves, reindeer, horses, and buffalo in filming. The exploitative use of wildlife for entertainment is not only cruel to animals, but also extremely dangerous to the cast and crew working with them. Furthermore, using live wildlife for television and film is outdated in the age of computer-generated special effects, as recently illustrated in the feature film The Jungle Book, which seamlessly uses technology to bring wild animals to “life.”

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “We spoke to executives at CBS last year and were told that, if the show got picked up, a conversation or meeting would take place to discuss Born Free USA’s legitimate animal welfare concerns. We never heard back and further attempts to speak with them have gone unanswered. It is clear that no progress has been made in phasing out live animals. Zoo can certainly adopt modern technology in place of outdated practices that significantly impact animal welfare and public safety. We know the television industry is better than this and would never want a tragedy to occur.”

Wild animal “actors,” such as the ones used in Zoo, spend their lives in captivity experiencing severe physical and psychological suffering. Training methods for animal actors have been known to include coercion and negative reinforcement: a process which may involve withholding food or using physical force.

Moreover, many of the animals used in Zoo have long lifespans. Lions can live 10-15 years, sometimes longer; bears live for approximately 20-25 years. Often, when animal actors are no longer deemed useful, or they become too dangerous to be used in media, they are sent to already-overburdened sanctuaries or deplorable roadside zoos.

In addition, the use of exotic animals places actors and crew in highly dangerous situations. No matter how “well trained” and “trusted” the animals are, repeated incidents recorded in Born Free USA’s Exotic Animal Incidents Database demonstrate that such animals inevitably display their natural, wild behaviors, which can lead to injury or even death to humans. 

Roberts continues, “Wild animals are wild, and do not belong imprisoned in a trailer or exploited on a television or film set. These animals are not props, and forcing them to perform for our entertainment is neither humane nor safe—particularly when technological innovations can so easily be substituted. Given CBS’s stated plans to run the series for five seasons, we strongly encourage the network to ensure that only CGI technology is used in the future.”

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.

 

Bill is result of trapping incident with 12-year-old boy; would ban import, export, and interstate commerce of leghold and Conibear traps

Washington, D.C., June 27, 2016 -- Today, Born Free USA announced its support for the introduction of the Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act (H.R. 5560) in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congresswoman Alma S. Adams (D-NC) and Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY). This important bill would ban the import, export, and interstate commerce of barbaric steel-jaw leghold traps and Conibear body-gripping traps. H.R. 5560 was inspired by an incident in North Carolina, in which a 12-year-old boy playing near a neighborhood pond got his arm caught in a Conibear trap. It took a team of six doctors several hours to free him from the painful grip of this trap.

Born Free USA applauds and thanks Congresswoman Adams and Congresswoman Lowey for their leadership and urges the swift passage of the legislation to ensure that outdoor spaces are safe for the public, their pets, and wildlife.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “Leghold and Conibear traps are the two used most often in the U.S. trapping industry. They are horrific in their brutality. When triggered, these archaic devices slam shut on their victims with bone-crushing force. They are indiscriminate and cause massive pain and suffering not only to targeted wild animals, but also to endangered species, people’s pets, and even children. It is time for the U.S. to take significant steps to limit the barbaric impact of these two dangerous traps.”

“The preservation of human life and wildlife is a priority that lawmakers must take serious. We can no longer afford to disregard the ill-effects that animal cruelty has on our ecosystem and on us as well. Steel-jaw leghold and Conibear traps are body-gripping tools that are inhumane and archaic. They also pose unnecessary risks to humans, especially young children. That is why I am proud to introduce this important piece of legislation with my colleague, Congresswoman Nita Lowey,” said Congresswoman Adams.

Although Conibear and leghold traps are legal in North Carolina, their use is severely restricted or prohibited in several states. Importantly, the Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act would not alter any state’s own policies on trapping. Instead, it would ensure that these two notoriously dangerous traps do not cross state lines, especially into states with bans already in place. 

“Body-gripping traps are an archaic and indiscriminate method of catching wildlife,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “They cause tremendous suffering to animals and put humans at an unnecessary risk for injury. That is why I am proud to join Congresswoman Adams in introducing the Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act. It is time for the United States to address the inherent cruelty of these devices and ban their use.”  

Born Free USA asserts that animals and people should be able to enjoy the outdoor spaces of the U.S without the risk of being caught—and possibly killed—in an indiscriminate and painful trap. The organization urges other members of Congress to join Congresswoman Adams and Congresswoman Lowey in support of H.R. 5560.

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.

 

Born Free USA database shows that these incidents are part of a larger problem with captivity

Washington, D.C., June 10, 2016 -- A leopard named Zeya escaped from her enclosure at the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, Utah this week, marking the latest in a string of recent escapes, injuries, deaths, and other disturbing incidents at zoos. Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, calls for an immediate review of all safety and emergency protocols for the keeping of potentially dangerous wild animals in zoos across the U.S. and globally.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “Zeya was simply demonstrating the curiosity, agility, and desire for independence you would expect from a leopard, within the thoroughly unnatural confines of her life at the zoo. The blame here does not lie with a wild animal for acting like a wild animal, but rather with the Hogle Zoo for both its long-term exploitation of this animal and its inadequate safety measures. It is fortunate that no one was hurt during this incident, although tranquilizing an animal is never without risk. However, many animals and humans do not escape unscathed from this type of event.”

In addition to Zeya the leopard at the Hogle Zoo on June 7, there have been several other incidents at zoos in just under two weeks: 

  • On May 27, a male wolf named Rebel at the Menominee Park Zoo in Oshkosh, Wisconsin was euthanized after visitors took advantage of an improperly opened gate and Rebel nipped the hand of a four-year-old child who stuck his fingers through the enclosure's chain-link fence.
  • On May 28, Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, was killed after a young boy fell into his enclosure.
  • On June 5, a male lion at Chiba Zoological Park in Tokyo, Japan was filmed crashing into a protective glass wall as he tried to pounce on a little boy.

These are not isolated or unusual events at zoos. According to the Born Free USA Exotic Animal Incidents Database, since 1990, there have been 224 instances of injury to a person by an animal at a zoo, and 128 human deaths. Additionally, 87 zoo animals have been killed by humans.

Roberts continues, “These staggering numbers are appalling and preventable. Zeya’s escape, Harambe’s and Rebel’s deaths, and countless other tragedies are caused by a severe lack of attention to public safety and animal welfare at zoos. There is absolutely no reason to imprison these wild animals in cages, and there is no reason why people should be in such close proximity at all to dangerous wild animals. These animals do not belong anywhere but in their natural habitats, in the wild.”

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.

 

On June 22, 1966, the film that kicked off the animal welfare and wildlife conservation movement premiered in the U.S.

Washington, D.C., June 9, 2016 -- Fifty years ago this month (June 22), the iconic 1966 motion picture Born Free premiered in the U.S. The Columbia Pictures film starred Virginia McKenna and the late Bill Travers as real-life husband and wife, George and Joy Adamson, and told the story of the Adamsons’ efforts to return an orphaned lion cub, Elsa, to the wild. After making the film, McKenna and Travers vowed to end captive animal cruelty and focus their lives on promoting compassionate conservation around the world by starting two organizations: Born Free Foundation in 1984 and Born Free USA in 2002. Today, the organizations have grown into dynamic international forces in wildlife protection. 

The story of Elsa is considered as the first mainstream Hollywood film to spotlight a conservation issue and is regarded by many as the beginning of the animal welfare and wildlife conservation movement: an approach to wild animals that recognizes each one as an individual in need of protection. This early look at “compassionate conservation” is the mission of Born Free USA today. 

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and an international expert on wildlife conservation, “The legacy of Elsa, who really was the ambassador of wildlife conservation, is what began this global evolution of respect and love for big cats—and for the public to want to learn more. Elsa, the Adamsons, and the film opened doors in 1966 which we honor and celebrate 50 years later. With the listing of African lions under the U.S. Endangered Species Act last year and the establishment of the Presidential Task Force on Combatting Wildlife Trafficking, we are living in an era of great change for these animals. This film, and Bill and Virginia’s lifelong commitment to wild animals in need, has never been more relevant, and this anniversary is one of the reasons we launched our 2016 Born Free Year of the Lion campaign.” 

Over the past 50 years, the movie has truly become a pop culture phenomenon, which Born Free USA hopes will keep Elsa’s story alive and forever bring attention to all wildlife. Fifty years ago, Born Free received Academy Awards for Original Music Score and Best Song, and Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture Drama and Best Motion Picture Drama Actress for McKenna. In the past decade, the film was mentioned on the AMC television show Mad Men; the song was played on Showtime’s Dexter and in the feature film Madagascar; and the song was sung on the Fox series The Simpsons. Even President Barack Obama has said, "I think I may have teared up at the end when they release Elsa. I couldn't have been more than four or five."

“Born Free USA works tirelessly to help keep wildlife in the wild. This year, we celebrate the foundation of our work: the film and Elsa,” Roberts adds.

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.

 

 “Zoos are playing Russian roulette with dangerous wild animals” – Born Free USA CEO

Washington, D.C., May 31, 2016 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, grieves the tragic and preventable death of Harambe, and urges zoos to permanently end exhibitions of captive gorillas. Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, was killed on Saturday after a young boy fell into his enclosure. This incident is not the first at this zoo, and is one of many involving gorillas at zoos throughout the U.S. 

According to international animal welfare expert Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “The lesson of Harambe is that having dangerous wild animals in American zoos is not worth the risk to humans and the risk to the animals themselves. Zoos, whether licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture or accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, cannot predict or prevent the possibility that animals will escape their compounds or that humans will enter them. The only way to eliminate risk is to not have certain animals in zoos in the first place. Should dangerous animals not be on display? Should exhibits be closed while a complete review of safety protocols is put in place? Should all emergency protocols at every zoo in the country be assessed? If you play Russian roulette with wild animals in captivity, it’s best to reduce the number of bullets in the chamber. However, the lesson of Harambe is that it’s best not to play at all. Gorillas should be protected in Africa where they belong. Children can learn about gorillas—and tigers, lions, elephants, and polar bears—without ever seeing one up close.”

According to the Born Free USA Exotic Animal Incidents Database, at the Cincinnati Zoo:

  • In 1990, a zookeeper named Laurie Stober was offering a grape to a caged polar bear when it pushed its teeth through the bars and chewed up her right arm almost to the elbow. She survived, and the subsequent lawsuit included allegations that the zoo ignored danger warnings from Stober and other staff.
  • In 1996, a Bengal tiger mauled the seven-year-old daughter of the zoo education director as the animal was about to appear on a television show with the girl’s father.
  • Multiple young animals, including a polar bear, a giraffe, and a white lion, have died from avoidable injuries or unapparent causes.
  • It is clear that safety protocols have not improved. In March 2016, a polar bear named Berit escaped from his enclosure, forcing the zoo to close temporarily.

In addition, the Born Free USA Exotic Animal Incidents Database catalogues more than 20 incidents involving gorillas at U.S. zoos, demonstrating the inherent risk associated with keeping them in captivity:

  • In 1998, a 340-pound gorilla escaped from his room at the Dallas Zoo, raided the kitchen, bit a keeper, and then dragged her down a hallway.
  • In 2000, Evelyn, a gorilla at the Los Angeles Zoo, used overgrown honeysuckle vines to pull herself out of her enclosure and wandered the grounds for an hour until subdued by a tranquilizer dart.
  • In 2003, Little Joe, a 300-pound gorilla, escaped from his cage at the Franklin Park Zoo for the second time that year by scaling a 10-foot wide, 12-foot deep moat, getting past electric wire, and leaving the zoo grounds. During the escape, Little Joe attacked an 18-year-old woman, throwing her several feet in the air, stepping on her, dragging her, and biting her on her back. The woman was holding a two-year-old girl who was snatched out of her arms and slammed to the ground.
  • In 2004, Jabari, a 13-year-old western lowland gorilla, escaped from his two-acre enclosure at the Dallas Zoo and attacked several people before charging at police officers, who fired three shots, killing him. Jabari bit a 26-year-old woman and her three-year-old son several times and threw them against a wall.
  • In 2012, a 400-pound adult male gorilla escaped his cage at the Buffalo Zoo, biting a female zookeeper before being tranquilized and captured.

Roberts adds, “Zoo apologists like Jack Hanna keep saying the same thing. They say zoos are safe; that accidents happen; and that the decision to shoot the gorilla was the right one (just as Hanna said about a deadly incident at the San Francisco Zoo involving a tiger a decade ago). But, the point is that these situations should never arise in the first place. We should be guided by a sense of precaution, not risk. Let us honor Harambe by ensuring that this tragedy is never repeated.”

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.

 

“New Jersey is a major hub for imports and transportation of body parts of endangered species.” – Born Free USA CEO

Washington, D.C., May 3, 2016 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, commends Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey for signing S. 977 into law—a bill that would ban the possession, transport, import, export, processing, sale, or shipment of lions, tigers, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and cape buffalos. These animals are endangered species that fall victim to trophy hunting.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “New Jersey is a major hub for imports and transportation of body parts of endangered species. We are thankful for Senator Raymond Lesniak’s leadership on this bill, which is crucial to protecting imperiled species. We commend Governor Christie for signing this bill into law. Born Free has studied wildlife trafficking for more than two decades, and we can conclude that trophy hunting does nothing to enhance conservation. In 2013, Born Free USA, along with partner organizations, commissioned Economists at Large to investigate the facts.  The study proved that the trophy hunting industry makes a minimal contribution to national incomes. As a portion of any national economy, trophy hunting revenue never accounts for more than 0.27 percent of the GDP."

Under this legislation, those violating the law will be guilty of a third degree crime and fines of up to $75,000. The law will go into effect Monday, May 26, 2016, after the Senate and Assembly concur with the governor's conditions.

According to Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-NJ), who sponsored the bill, “Our ban will send a strong message to those who would endanger the very existence of these majestic animals to avoid bringing their ‘trophies’ into New Jersey and better yet, give it up entirely.”

This critical piece of legislation comes less than a year after the tragic death of Cecil the lion, who was allegedly lured outside of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and killed by an American hunter. He was shot with an arrow, injured, and tracked for 40 hours before finally being shot with a gun, beheaded, and skinned. The U.S. is a significant market for hunting “trophies” like Cecil. State laws banning the importation of these products are aimed at reducing the demand. Roberts adds, “Born Free USA encourages other states to pass similar legislation in order to protect imperiled species from extinction and ultimately put an end, once and for all, to this horrific ‘sport.’”

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.

 

 “It is immensely cruel and dangerous to keep them in captivity.” - CEO Adam M. Roberts

Washington, D.C., April 19, 2016 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, condemns University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) defensive end Robert Nkemdiche’s announced plan this week to purchase a panther “when he is drafted into the NFL,” and urges him to find a more compassionate way to celebrate. Defending his plan, Nkemdiche insisted, “They’re like cats,” and said that if a guest is scared, he’ll “put the panther away.”

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation, “Panthers, like other exotic animals, may seem like a novel or stylish pet to buy, but the reality is that it is immensely cruel and dangerous to keep them in captivity. Nkemdiche is drawn to them because he believes a big cat will set him apart, but acquiring a panther would just mark him as callous and irresponsible. Not only would this purchase be devastating for the panther he acquires, but he is also using his celebrity status to set a terrible example. People like to emulate celebrities, and so he is encouraging others to participate in the brutal exotic pet trade, as well.”

The epidemic of big cat ownership threatens public safety. According to the Born Free USA Exotic Animal Incidents Database, reported incidents involving captive big cats have resulted in the deaths of at least 23 people since 1999, five of them children. In many cases, the animals were shot and killed, often by first responders who were neither trained nor properly equipped to handle the situations.

Private big cat ownership also subjects the cats to cruel mistreatment. They frequently come from a vicious breeding cycle in which babies are separated from their mothers and sold as cubs. Pet big cats are often declawed and defanged in an effort to "tame" them, and are kept in cramped cages, fed unnatural diets, and deprived of contact with other members of their species.

Roberts adds, “A panther is like a house cat as much as a hyena is like a Chihuahua: definitely not domesticated, and never suitable for life inside a home. I strongly urge Nkemdiche to find a more humane way to celebrate.”

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.

 

“It is standard in this horrific industry to separate babies from their mothers, and then discard them when they grow too big for handling.” Born Free USA CEO 

Washington, D.C., April 5, 2016 -- In response to a 2012 legal petition filed by Born Free USA, The Humane Society of the United States, World Wildlife Fund, Detroit Zoological Society, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Big Cat Rescue, Fund for Animals, and Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued guidance making clear that exhibitors violate the Animal Welfare Act by allowing members of the public to handle or feed infant exotic cats like tigers, lions, cheetahs, jaguars, or leopards.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation, “The insatiable demand for cubs and baby primates used at interactive exhibits fuels a vicious cycle of breeding and exploitation. It is standard in this horrific industry to separate babies from their mothers, and then discard them when they grow too big for handling. The USDA's most recent policy decision is a step toward addressing these concerns, but still does not do enough to protect the young big cats, bears, and primates suffering for profit around the nation."

As documented in the petition, dozens of facilities across the country routinely breed and acquire exotic feline species—all of which are listed under the Endangered Species Act—to produce an ample supply of cubs for profit.

“We applaud USDA for taking this first step to put roadside zoos and the public on notice that federal law prohibits using infant cubs for photographic opportunities and interactive experiences,” said Anna Frostic, senior attorney for wildlife & animal research at The Humane Society of the United States, “but it is imperative that the agency take additional action to prohibit public contact with big cats, bears, and nonhuman primates of any age.”

“Both animals and people are put in harm’s way when big cats are used for public contact exhibition; young cubs are particularly susceptible to disease, especially when deprived of necessary maternal care, and cubs quickly grow into dangerous predators that can cause serious injury to adults and children,” said Jeff Flocken, North America regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

In contrast to zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, “there are thousands of big cats in private menageries in the U.S., and these facilities do not have the resources or expertise to safely and responsibly care for dangerous wild animals,” said Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO of the Detroit Zoological Society. 

Conservation professionals agree that endangered and threatened species like tigers, lions, and apes should not be bred for commercial purposes.

The mass propagation of tigers in the U.S. has resulted in a captive population that is nearly twice the number of tigers that exist in the wild. “Cubs used for petting, if they survive, typically spend many years living in substandard facilities and the few who are lucky enough to eventually end up at good sanctuaries typically arrive with medical issues caused by deficient care,” said Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue.

In addition to these animal welfare, public safety, and conservation concerns, “the surplus of exotic animals in roadside zoos and other substandard facilities puts an enormous financial burden on the accredited sanctuaries that provide lifetime care for abandoned and seized animals,” according to Michael Markarian, president of The Fund for Animals.

Investigations have revealed that using tiger cubs for photo ops and play sessions can yield more than $20,000 per month for a roadside zoo, fueling demand for more and more cubs—but once the cats mature, their future is uncertain. “There is just not enough space or resources at accredited sanctuaries to support the demand created by this irresponsible breeding,” said Kellie Heckman, executive director of Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.

Further, “the fate of captive tigers in the U.S. has serious implications for the conservation of tigers in the wild,” said Leigh Henry, senior policy advisor for Wildlife Conservation at World Wildlife Fund. “Strengthened regulation of U.S. captive tigers will help ensure that captive-bred tiger parts don’t enter the black market and stimulate the demand that drives the poaching of wild tigers.”

While there is still much more work to be done to fully address the coalition’s petition to completely prohibit public contact with big cats, bears, and nonhuman primates of any age, this is a significant step forward for the U.S. to improve its oversight of captive tigers and lead by example to encourage other countries, like China, to reduce the demand for tigers and tiger products.

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.

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