Washington, D.C., February 16, 2017 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, is calling on the U.S. Department of the Interior to issue its decision listing all pangolin species as endangered as World Pangolin Day approaches on February 18. In July 2015, Born Free USA and other wildlife groups petitioned the U.S. government to designate seven species of pangolins as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). If granted, the import and interstate sale of all pangolins and pangolin parts would be fundamentally prohibited in the U.S.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “Fragile pangolins are considered the most heavily-traded mammal in the world today, coveted in markets globally for their scales, meat, and other body parts. Concerted and coordinated global action is essential to save them from extinction, and the U.S. has an opportunity to contribute to long-term conservation of all pangolin species with ESA protection. We have no time to lose, and it would be a shameful indictment of conservation leadership if these animals were to disappear while American government paralysis leads to inaction.”

Born Free USA is encouraging the U.S. to act now, following overwhelming votes last fall by the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora, which listed all eight species of pangolins on Appendix I of the Treaty, thus terminating international commercial trade. Most species received CITES trade protection by consensus, and the two Asian pangolin species that received an actual vote had but one dissenting vote.

Roberts adds, “It is estimated that, in the next 21 years, African pangolin species could decline by 30 to 40%, while some Asian species could decline by up to 90%. Although the international community made a great commitment last year to strengthen the protection of pangolins, these efforts will be in vain with no enforcement of new regulations.”

A pangolin is snatched from the wild every five minutes, and at least one pangolin is killed every hour in Asia. Between July 2000 and July 2016, more than one million pangolins were trafficked. Just in the past two months alone, there was a seizure of almost three tons of pangolin scales smuggled into Thailand from Congo and destined for Laos; an arrest of a Tanzanian pangolin smuggler in Uganda with six tons of scales; a seizure in Cameroon of 670 kg of pangolin scales bound for Malaysia; and a seizure in China of more than three tons of pangolin scales, corresponding to about 5,000-7,500 pangolins, in a container labeled as containing timber from Africa.

“These reports are catastrophic. Pangolins have an extremely important ecological role. If they go extinct, there would be a cascading impact on the environment. They are natural controllers of termites and ants, and their loss would be devastating on multiple levels,” Roberts says.

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.

Washington, D.C., January 5, 2017 -- Today is Born Free USA’s 15th annual National Bird Day: a day to raise awareness for wild and captive birds everywhere.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation: “We want to use this day to remind the public that birds belong in the wild. They do not deserve to be bred in captivity in unregulated, often miserable conditions. They deserve to fly and not be traded and sold as pets where they spend their lives in cages, and where people cannot possibly meet the complicated needs of a bird.”

National Bird Day is a time to celebrate birds for the true wild animals they are,” Roberts adds.

Born Free USA’s facts about birds:

  1. How many species of birds are there? There's no single correct or universally agreed-upon number, and that's because there is more than one definition of "species." By one definition, there are 18,000-20,000 bird species; by another definition, there are only half that.
  2. Blackbird singing in the dead of night. "Blackbird," a song on the Beatles' White Album, is said to have been inspired by the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
  3. The Birds. Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 film The Birds employed live birds in many scenes. To attract the birds, actors often had ground meat or fish smeared on their hands.
  4. Indeed, a very Big Bird. Big Bird, a beloved character on the children's program Sesame Street, debuted in 1969. He is 8 feet 2 inches (249 cm) tall.
  5. Keep on Rockin'! The common pigeon we see in cities around the world (and sometimes in rural or wilderness areas) used to be called the Rock Dove, but it's now called the Rock Pigeon. It's a feral, domesticated variation of the wild type found in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
  6. Edgar Allen Poe's famous narrative poem, "The Raven," was first published in The Evening Mirror on January 29, 1845.
  7. Now, that's old! Parrot fossils have been found that date back as far as 60 million years.
  8. The bald eagle. The bald eagle is the national bird of the United States, but Benjamin Franklin had originally argued that the turkey would have been a more appropriate symbol.
  9. This is what is sounds like. Prince's 1984 song "When Doves Cry" stayed at number one on the Billboard Music Chart for five weeks, keeping Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" from reaching the top spot.
  10. Kept captive around the world... Turacos and louries—long-tailed, medium-sized birds—are only found in the wild in Africa, but we commonly see them in zoos.
  11. Beep, beep! Looney Tunes characters The Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote debuted in 1949. Their adversarial relationship was inspired in part by Tom and Jerry.
  12. The bird is the word. "Surfin' Bird" by The Trashmen was released in 1964. The song regained fame and notoriety after it was featured in a television episode of Family Guy.
  13. I smell an advantage for this owl. Great Horned Owls are found in every mainland state and Canadian province—and they have a really bad sense of smell! But, that's good for them, because a major prey species for this owl is the skunk. The skunk's best defense, a foul-smelling spray from their anal scent glands, does not deter the Great Horned Owl. Museum specimens of the owls, decades old, often retain traces of the skunk odor!
  14. The Last Suppers. In his two frescos of "The Last Supper," painted in Florence in 1480 and 1482, Renaissance artist Domenico Ghirlandaio prominently featured flying peacocks. Art historians believe the peacocks are meant to emphasize the "Oriental" setting of the Last Supper scene.
  15. And, a partridge in a pear tree. In the song "The 12 Days of Christmas," a holiday season standard, the singer's true love gives her 364 gifts—184 of which are birds.

For more information on how to celebrate the wildness of all birds and help birds in captivity, please visit www.nationalbirdday.org. For bird owners looking for support, visit www.nationalbirdday.org/a_happy_bird.php.

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 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.

 

Washington, D.C., December 15, 2016 -- As 2016 draws to a close, Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, has released a round-up of its top 10 successes for animals this year. According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “Despite significant national and international challenges, we have seen momentous gains for wildlife this year on issues from performing animals, to fur in fashion, to international wildlife trafficking. There is growing public awareness and momentum to stop the abuses animals face when they are held captive, or trapped, or poached for profit. Born Free USA’s successes for animals in 2016 inspire us to fight harder to build upon these gains and ensure that 2017 is an even better year for wildlife around the world.”   

International Wildlife Conservation. In the fall, a Born Free USA delegation attended the 17th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Johannesburg, South Africa. CITES Parties approved decisions and enacted measures to increase protection for several imperiled species. Born Free USA helped secure recommendations on the long-term conservation of cheetahs, including efforts to stop the illegal trade in the species; succeeded in getting CITES Parties to consider the threats facing African wild dogs for the first time; and helped stop attempts to reopen the elephant ivory and rhino horn trades. Born Free USA also played an important role in securing the adoption of a prohibition of commercial trade in all eight pangolin species.

Fur for the Animals Campaign. Born Free USA’s annual Fur for the Animals campaign—a donation drive to collect fur coats, hats, and other items to send to wildlife rehabilitators to comfort orphaned and injured animals—made international headlines this year. Since September 2016, Born Free USA has collected more than 1,000 fur item donations: more than double the donations from 2015. To date, the three-year program has received more than 1,600 fur donations, worth an estimated $3.5M, from more than 54,000 animals killed for their fur.

Debate about Whether Hunters Conserve Wildlife. In the spring, at a nationally-broadcasted live debate in New York, Born Free USA’s CEO, Adam M. Roberts, and President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, successfully argued that trophy hunting depletes wild animal populations; that it occurs in countries in which governments set non-science-based quotas; and that the millions of dollars spent on these violent “thrill kills” do not promote conservation. Roberts and Pacelle won, convincing 65% of the audience that hunting does not conserve wildlife.

Undercover Trapping Report. Five years after the release of Born Free USA’s groundbreaking undercover trapping investigation, Victims of Vanity, the organization released Victims of Vanity II in September. This investigation focuses on trapping that takes place on private, public, and protected lands in New York and Iowa. The footage exposes the brutal world of trapping, documenting everyday trapping practices that are shockingly cruel and dangerous—and which are sometimes illegal. The compelling investigation is being used to push for bans on trapping on federal and state public lands.

Report to Expose Online Sales of Exotic Pets. In October, Born Free USA released a report titled Downloading Cruelty: An Investigation into the Online Sales of Exotic Pets in the U.S. The research confirmed the enormous quantity of exotic animals advertised on the internet; at least 3,706 individual exotic animals across 1,816 unique ads were listed for sale during a three-month period. The locations of these ads situated sellers in 49 states and Washington, D.C., and the species for sale were highly diverse. The report is being used to demand greater accountability from the classified ad websites, and stronger state and federal laws to crack down on the online exotic pet trade.

Banning Weapons Used on Elephants in Traveling Shows. Born Free USA successfully worked with coalitions in Rhode Island and California to pass legislation prohibiting the use of weapons designed to inflict pain on elephants in traveling shows. These precedent-setting laws will ensure that elephant trainers can no longer use these brutal tools, like the bullhook: a long, thick pole with a sharp metal hook attached to the end that trainers often embed into the soft tissue of elephants. Born Free USA also worked with a New York City coalition on an ordinance to prohibit the use of performing exotic animals within the city, including testifying at a hearing in October. Born Free USA Program Associate Kate Dylewsky told the council: “There are plentiful alternatives to shows that feature animals, and neither the economic strength nor the vibrant culture of New York City will suffer a loss from this law.” Born Free USA will continue pushing New York City aggressively to adopt this bill.

Trapping Legislation Introduced. In June, Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) introduced the Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act (H.R. 5560): a bill that would ban the import, export, and interstate commerce of steel-jaw leghold traps and Conibear traps. In September, Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced H.R. 5954: the Limiting Inhumane Federal Trapping (LIFT) for Public Safety Act. This bill would ban trapping on all lands managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It would also prohibit these federal personnel from using traps in the line of duty. Born Free USA assisted these efforts by providing information on U.S. trapping and calling on members of Congress to support the legislation after it was introduced. 

Armani Goes Fur Free. In April, luxury fashion icon Giorgio Armani announced the brand would eliminate the use of real fur beginning with its 2016 Fall/Winter line. Armani committed to this humane, fur free policy after working with the Fur Free Alliance, which includes Born Free USA. By committing to a fur free policy, Armani joins other high-end brands (such as Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and Stella McCartney) and acknowledges the ethical concerns of a new generation of fashion consumers.

Strengthening Protection of African Manatees. Illegal trade, bycatch, poaching, and human population growth are increasing threats for the fewer than 10,000 African manatees ranging in West and Central Africa. In some regions, the species is reported as being close to extinct. Local communities urgently need to understand the role they can play in its conservation. In July, Born Free USA joined forces with other groups to distribute posters throughout West Africa to educate citizens in manatee Range States about the threats affecting the species and about the need to end the illegal trade in manatee products

New Accommodations for Primates—and New Primates. In November 2015, a crew began the intensive process of creating new enclosures at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Dilley, Texas. In March 2016, the enclosures were ready to be occupied by monkeys. These new enclosures contain necessary shade along with climbing and loafing structures. Each enclosure has its own propane-heated cinderblock house for inclement weather. The windows open, as well, so they will provide comfort in the summer heat. We also accepted new sanctuary residents, including two monkeys from biomedical research and one from a private owner who kept the vervet as a “pet.” Additionally, one of our resident monkeys from a zoo was released into the main 56-acre enclosure after a nearly year-long rehabilitation program.

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.

 
 
     
      
 
Spirit of Elsa lives on in Meru National Park
 

Large carnivore census reveals lions holiding their own in Elsa's homeland

The results of a vitally important large carnivore census in Meru National Park, Kenya, along with an exciting short video , were released today by international wildlife charity Born Free Foundation, revealing that the lion population there is holding its own.

The census, conducted earlier this year as part of a long-term lion monitoring project undertaken by Kenya Wildlife Service in collaboration with Born Free, and sponsored by the charity’s global partner, Land Rover, estimated as many as 79 lions* may be living in and around the park.

Meru is the historic homeland of the world-famous lioness, Elsa, who was raised and returned to the wild by legendary conservationists Joy and George Adamson, and whose story was told in the best-selling book and Oscar-winning film Born Free. The findings of the census are therefore of significant historical importance.

Will Travers OBE, President and CEO of Born Free Foundation, who was part of the team in Meru, said: “My mother, Virginia McKenna, and I were recently in Meru, one of the most striking and under-appreciated parks in Kenya. To see the dedication of Kenya Wildlife Service, our Born Free team, our colleagues from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, and the members of the local community, was inspiring. Africa’s lions are in trouble but we are all working hard to make sure that in Meru their future can be secured.”

Scientists believe that the estimate is encouraging as Meru, which is located below the North Eastern foothills of Mount Kenya, is considered an important and viable lion stronghold which, if well-managed and conserved, could see wild lions thrive for decades to come. Although Meru is considered a key and secure habitat for lions, the status of its population was previously not well-known. The park is currently being restored after much of its wildlife was almost wiped out in the 1970s and 1980s by heavy poaching.

Lions across West, Central, and East Africa have declined by 60% or more over the past 21 years. More than a dozen African countries are already thought to have lost their lion populations entirely, and the international demand for lion bones and body parts, combined with unsustainable lion trophy hunting operations and growing evidence of lion poaching, are further exacerbating this downward spiral. There are currently thought to be as few as 20,000 lions remaining across Africa.

Tim Oloo, Country Manager for Born Free Kenya, added: “The data we have obtained from the census will allow Born Free Foundation, working with KWS, to build informed programmes to help conserve and protect lions. We’re going to save the Meru lions!”

As Born Free’s Year of the Lion 2016 draws to a close, Born Free has today launched an exciting short video following the team as they conduct the important census.

Born Free’s Year of the Lion 2016 saw the Foundation celebrate the 50th anniversary of the premiere of the Born Free film through a year-long series of events and activities. Events included the release of the Channel 4 documentary Virginia McKenna’s Born Free, in October; a Born Free delegation attending the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), in Johannesburg, to stand up for lions and all wildlife, in September; and the release of ground-breaking research that confirmed the existence of a previously forgotten population of lions in Ethiopia, in February.

Born Free will host a Tweetstorm on 9th December (1pm-2pm UK time) to draw to a close Born Free’s Year of the Lion 2016, using the hashtag #TheFinalRoar. Born Free will be tweeting questions and lion facts, supported by Celebrity Patrons and Corporate Partners. For more information visit www.bornfree.org.uk or www.twitter.com/BFFoundation.

Find out more about the large carnivore census here

Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?=-qaAT3OEmi8&feature=youtu.be

*Census results: 58 ± 21 lions; 98 ± 21 spotted hyenas; 18 ± 9 leopards; 12 ± 6 black-backed jackals; 9 ± 5 striped hyenas; 4 ± 2 caracals; 2 ± 2 aardwolfs.


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



 
 

 

Collaboration begins with 2017 youth program called Give it Back

Washington, D.C., December 5, 2016 -- Today, Born Free USA and the Ian Somerhalder Foundation (ISF) announced a partnership to support both organizations’ efforts to educate youth on wildlife conservation and animal welfare. The collaboration will begin with a youth program called Give it Back, which is a project involving Born Free USA’s Fur for the Animals campaign and the ISF Youth Program. ISF youth volunteers will be collecting fur for Born Free USA’s donation drive: a successful initiative launched in 2014 to collect unwanted fur coats and accessories, which are repurposed and sent to wildlife rehabilitation centers around the country to help comfort orphaned and injured wildlife. Give it Back will take place throughout 2017, with events focused on getting fur back where it belongs—with the animals.

“We are excited to work with Born Free USA on anti-fur trapping campaigns and in engaging youth to take action through their Fur for the Animals project," said Ian Somerhalder. “What better way to teach youth compassion and responsible actions than by having them encourage people to Give it Back?”  

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “We are tremendously excited to partner with Ian’s well-respected Foundation and grateful to the passionate ISF youth volunteers. It is so important for us to get kids involved in the compassionate anti-fur message and have them do hands-on work to promote the fact that cruelty is not fashion. The success of Fur for the Animals not only shows that the public is increasingly turning away from fur, but it also serves as a powerful reminder that fur comes from the intense suffering and painful deaths of millions of animals. We are looking forward to a strong partnership and thank the Foundation for its important work to save animals.”

Fur for the Animals has received more than 1,700 fur donations since it launched in 2014, worth an estimated $3.5M, from more than 54,000 animals.

“The Born Free USA Fur for the Animals campaign will give young people a hands-on chance to get involved and learn about cruelty-free consumerism, upcycling, wildlife conservation, and sanctuary animals, while looking at an ugly issue of trapping and finding a feel-good way to create action and outreach,” added Kate Harms, ISF Creatures Division Manager.   

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 ISF: The Ian Somerhalder Foundation, founded by actor and environmental/animal advocate Ian Somerhalder, is dedicated to empowering, educating and collaborating with people and projects to positively impact the planet and its creatures. ISF focuses on raising awareness about environmental and animal protection issues, and supporting initiatives to promote green energy, global conservation and anti-animal cruelty programs, as well as empowering youth to become a united and spirited force for change.

 

“Exotic animals may seem fun and like extravagant, novel gifts, but there are tremendous risks involved.” - Born Free USA’s CEO

Washington, D.C., November 28, 2016 -- With the holiday shopping and gift-giving season upon us, Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, wants to remind everyone about the serious dangers of giving a live animal as a pet. In particular, the purchase of exotic animals as gifts is a concerning phenomenon. As revealed in last month’s report from Born Free USA, Downloading Cruelty: An Investigation into the Online Sales of Exotic Pets in the U.S., there is a widespread online trade of exotic animals as “pets," including monkeys, lions, tigers, cheetahs, wolves, kangaroos, foxes, snakes, sloths, and more. All of these animals can be available with just one click online, making them far too easy to bring home this holiday season. 

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “Exotic animals may seem like fun, extravagant, and novel gifts, but the reality is that they have tremendously complex needs that require extensive care and commitment. While it is incredibly easy to buy a snake, sugar glider, or fox online, that does not mean that it will be easy to have that animal in your home. Despite claims made by exotic animal breeders, not one of these animals is “tame.” Purchasing an exotic animal as a holiday present perpetuates the abusive circumstances of breeding and captivity, and puts people at risk by exposing them to a wild animal who belongs IN the wild.”

As demonstrated in the Downloading Cruelty report, the enormous popularity of internet shopping has significant repercussions for the trade in exotic animals as pets, because animals who were never offered at a pet store are now visible and available from breeders around the country. The ease of acquiring them over the internet parallels the continuously-growing demand. Since the buyer cannot see the animal beyond a photo, and the shipping and payment options make the purchase simple and fast, the buyer is unlikely to have taken into account or understand the long-term care implications.

Roberts added, “An exotic animal is one of the most dangerous gifts you could give someone. There have been hundreds of attacks on humans that demonstrate the severe threat they pose, and they can also transmit serious and potentially deadly diseases to humans, including salmonella and hepatitis. Protect both animals and your loved ones, and don’t give the present of a monkey, a snake, a turtle, or any other living creature this holiday season. “

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.

For the complete report and more, go to www.bornfreeusa.org/DownloadingCruelty.

 

Washington, D.C., November 21, 2016 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in wildlife conservation and animal welfare, decries the deplorable conditions in which 15 exotic animals were found last week living inside a Pahrump, Nevada home. Law enforcement reportedly discovered three lions, one Bengal tiger, eight Canadian Siberian lynx hybrid cats, one panther, one serval caracal hybrid cat, and one fennec fox locked in rooms and cages amid their own waste.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “The circumstances these wild animals were kept in as ‘pets’ is heart wrenching, but this type of tragedy occurs with alarming frequency, sometimes resulting in human injury or death, not to mention the horrific cruelty to the animals. A lion belongs on the plains of Africa, not in a filthy cage. A panther belongs in a rainforest, not locked away in a bedroom. A fennec fox deserves to be in a den with his mate, not trapped near predators that he cannot escape from. It is utterly selfish and despicable to even think that keeping a wild animal caged inside a home is a good idea.”

The Born Free USA Exotic Animal Incidents Database provides a startling reminder of how frequently exotic pet incidents occur. Since 2000, there have been more than 1,500 escapes, injuries, deaths, and other health and legal issues involving wild animals kept in a home. At least 36 people have died from attacks, including children, neighbors, and first responders.

Kate Dylewsky, Program Associate at Born Free USA and captive exotic animal expert, explains, “It is a miracle that none of the animals in this Nevada home escaped and no one was mauled before law enforcement stepped in. Police officers are not trained to deal with 400-pound wild cats, nor should they have to be. However, the burden of protecting both the community and the welfare of exotic pets falls on the shoulders of brave officers who put their lives on the line. It is time to take the safety of our first responders and our communities more seriously, and outlaw exotic pet ownership.”

Nevada does not have a law prohibiting the ownership of many exotic animals, including big cats, wolves, and primates. There is also no federal law to restrict or oversee private ownership of these species, resulting in a largely unregulated breeding industry and pet trade. If not for the animal cruelty statute that enabled law enforcement officers to inspect the property, it would have been entirely legal for the owners of these 15 dangerous animals to continue keeping them imprisoned.

Roberts continued, “The exploitation of animals and the threats to human safety that result from exotic pet ownership are preventable. Wild animals are not pets. They have their own needs and rights: freedoms that the animals kept in this Nevada home have been cruelly denied. Now that they have been rescued, they should go to sanctuaries where they can live as natural a life as possible, and we should outlaw exotic pet ownership entirely so that we are not faced with this situation ever again.”

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.

 

“Online ads have made the dangerous and cruel exotic pet trade easier than ever before. People are purchasing ‘pet’ monkeys, tigers, wolves, snakes, and more with one quick click.” – Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA

Washington, D.C., October 27, 2016 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, released a new report today exposing the rampant online trade of exotic animals as “pets" such as monkeys, lions, tigers, cheetahs, wolves, kangaroos, foxes, snakes, sloths, and more. Downloading Cruelty: An Investigation into the Online Sales of Exotic Pets in the U.S. analyzes the shocking numbers of these animals for sale online, and looks at how easy it is to purchase potentially dangerous species.

While the majority of the approximately 80 million pet-owning households in the U.S. have a dog or cat, an estimated 15,000 primates (chimpanzees, capuchins, lemurs, marmosets, and more), 10,000-20,000 big cats (tigers, lions, cheetahs, and others), 13.3 million small mammals (kinkajous, sugar gliders, and others), and 9.3 million reptiles (including snakes and turtles) are owned in homes across the nation as “pets.” 

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “It is shockingly easy to purchase exotic animals online, and the proliferation of online sales has facilitated the delivery of exotic animals to untrained people who are ill-prepared for the responsibility of caring for them. Our report uncovers the sheer volume of animals sold online. The patchwork of exotic animal laws allows breeders, sellers, and owners to perpetuate a trade with very minimal oversight. Despite claims made by exotic animal breeders, not one of these animals is ‘tame’ and their needs cannot be met in captivity. There have been hundreds of attacks on humans that demonstrate the severe danger they pose, and they can also transmit serious and potentially deadly diseases to humans, including salmonella and hepatitis.”

Despite these risks, neither federal nor most state laws adequately prevent the widespread sale of exotic animals by breeders and owners, nor do they set forth requirements for species-specific information that must be shared in the transaction. Sellers are not required to disclose crucial health or behavior information, and buyers are not required to demonstrate an understanding of how to care for the animal. The fundamental lack of oversight and enforcement, coupled with ease of availability due to the internet, has created a scenario in which millions of dangerous animals are being bred, shipped, and purchased around the U.S. The public is largely unaware of the dangers this trade poses, and millions of animals are suffering and dying in the process.

The report reviewed nearly 2,000 online classified ads during a three-month period (March-June 2016) across four different websites (exoticanimalsforsale.net, hoobly.com, usfreeads.com, and petzlover.com). Report highlights include:

  • The volume of advertised animals is shocking. At least 3,706 individual exotic animals were listed for sale over three months.
  • The exotic pet trade is taking place across the nation and crisscrosses state lines. The locations of the ads showed sellers in 49 states and Washington, D.C.
  • The breakdown of species for sale revealed a thriving trade in highly diverse species: 603 primates, 335 exotic cats, 439 canids, 263 snakes, and many others.
  • Exotic pet breeders churn out baby animals for profit. Juvenile animals (under one year of age) were the most popular, with 2,039 (55% of total animals) listed for sale.
  • Advice on animal care and welfare is almost entirely lacking. Most ads did not provide any history of the animal, give information on the animal’s health or behavior, or offer any instructions for care.
  • The welfare of most animals advertised was not a priority. Some individuals for sale were kept in isolation or were reported as being injured. Ads also offered animals as “swaps” or “quick sales.”
  • Safety was overlooked by the sellers. Despite all of these animals being unsuitable for a home, and most posing a potential danger to humans, only nine ads out of the nearly 2,000 ads warned that the animal could pose any sort of risk to the buyer.

For the complete report, go to www.bornfreeusa.org/DownloadingCruelty.

Born Free USA Program Associate Kate Dylewsky, lead author of the report, added, “Online ads have made this horrific pet trade easier than ever. The astonishing volume of animals advertised, along with the uninformative content provided, demonstrates how these sales are an unregulated free-for-all that negatively impacts the animals’ welfare and the safety of the public. The findings of the Downloading Cruelty report reaffirm Born Free USA’s commitment to ending the abusive, dangerous, and sometimes deadly ownership of exotic animals. This must stop.”

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.

 

More than 800 fur items, worth an estimated $1.5 million and representing approximately 26,000 animals killed, have been donated and distributed to wildlife rehabilitation centers across U.S.

Washington, D.C.,  September 21, 2016, -- Today, Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, announced its third annual “Fur for the Animals” campaign: a donation drive to collect unwanted fur coats and accessories, which are repurposed and sent to wildlife rehabilitation centers around the country to help comfort orphaned and injured wildlife.

Since the initiative began in 2014, more than 800 fur items, worth more than $1.5 million and representing approximately 26,000 animals killed, have been donated to Born Free USA and distributed to wildlife rehabilitation centers around the U.S.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “Since we launched this campaign in 2014, we have seen an overwhelming outpouring of donations from across the globe: fur coats, scarves, hats, gloves, pillows, toys, and more. Frequently, the donations arrive with exceptionally moving thank-you notes from people relieved to find a worthy use for unwanted fur. These are often inherited items or regretted fashion decisions that have stayed in closets and storage units for years, until the owners heard about Fur for the Animals. The success of this campaign illustrates that consumers increasingly want nothing to do with fur in fashion. While urging people to not buy fur, we also provide an answer with fur already purchased: put it to good use by comforting wildlife.”

“Fur comes only from misery and death, and the demand feeds a barbaric and cruel industry. The fur that has come to our office over the past three years came from tens of thousands of animals who all suffered tremendously,” Roberts explains.

Born Free USA’s Fur for the Animals campaign comes two weeks after the organization released its shocking undercover trapping investigation, Victims of Vanity II, which reveals brutal, dangerous, and sometimes illegal trapping on both private and public land—all to supply the fur industry. Born Free USA hopes to reduce the supply, demand, and social acceptance of fur not only by showing the truth about trapping, but by taking fur out of circulation wherever possible and giving it back to where it belongs: with the animals.

Once collected, Born Free USA will continue to send the fur to wildlife rehabilitation centers and sanctuaries, including: The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center (Ramona, CA), Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation (Kendalia, TX), Blue Ridge Wildlife Center (Boyce, VA), and Born Free USA’s newest campaign partners: OPR Coastal Primate Sanctuary (Longview, WA), Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch (Murchison, TX), and Wild Animal Sanctuary (Keenesburg, CO). For a full list of partners, visit www.bornfreeusa.org/furdrive. Additional wildlife rehabilitation partners are welcome, and they can learn more by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

Fur for the Animals runs from September 21 to December 31, 2016. To donate, fur can be dropped off in person or shipped to Born Free USA, 2300 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Suite 100B, Washington, D.C. 20007 before December 31, 2016.

Born Free USA commends the growing number of fashion retailers vowing to go fur free.  In March 2016, Giorgio Armani announced it will be removing animal fur from its collections beginning with its Fall/Winter 2016 line. Armani has joined such brands as Hugo Boss, H&M, Steve Madden, Marks & Spencer, Topshop, and Zara. For a full list of fur free fashion retailers, click here.     

Born Free USA is a member of Fur Free Alliance: an international coalition of animal protection organizations working to bring an end to the exploitation and killing of animals for their fur. Fur Free Alliance represents more than 40 animal protection organizations in 28 countries, and has millions of supporters worldwide. 

Born Free USA is a nationally recognized 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 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.

 

Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, September 24 - October 5, 2016

Washington, D.C., September 19, 2016 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, will urge delegates at the 17th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to make precautionary decisions with respect to wildlife and international trade. Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, will be in attendance at the conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, September 24 - October 5, 2016.

The international wildlife trade is estimated to be worth billions of dollars annually and includes millions of animals who are traded as trophies, pets, medicine, and more. After habitat destruction, exploitation of wild specimens for trade is a main reason for the critical decline of global biodiversity. CITES is one of the most effective global instruments to counter the depletion of wildlife species for trade. CITES accords varying degrees of protection to more than 30,000 species of animals and plants that are threatened by overexploitation. With 183 Parties bound by the Convention, CITES is the largest conservation agreement in existence. 

According to Roberts, “This meeting is the most important call to save wildlife. And, people are watching and waiting for outcomes.  Armed militia and sophisticated organized crime networks are operating across continents to slaughter and trade wildlife for profit. Traffickers and other profiteers are watching closely to see what happens if the trades in elephant ivory and rhino horn are reopened. Any signal from CITES that there is profitability in this deadly trade will result in animal carcasses unceremoniously littering the African savannah and forests. CITES Parties must act with precaution to adopt sufficient measures to ensure that international trade will not lead to the extinction of species for future generations. The outcome of this conference can change everything.”

Born Free USA will be there to focus on a number of important issues, among them:

African Elephants: Africa’s elephants remain beleaguered by poaching for their ivory tusks, and some populations could disappear forever without significant action. Born Free USA will be supporting Kenya’s call to uplist all of Africa’s elephants back to Appendix I, thereby closing any chance for trade that is primarily commercial. Going back to the 1989 ban will dry up ivory markets and reduce elephant poaching. Similarly, the organization will work to defeat certain southern African countries that will be trying to facilitate international trade once again.   

Rhinoceros: Swaziland is proposing limited trade in rhino horn, which could seriously threaten the continent’s remaining estimated 25,000 black and white rhinos. Born Free USA will urge Parties to reject Swaziland’s proposal as the trade in rhino horn, like elephant ivory, leads to poaching. Rhinoceros horns are highly sought after in Asia because of false local beliefs in their medicinal properties. According to Roberts, “A resumption of rhino horn trade would have a devastating impact on this species already poached close to extinction.”

African and Asian Pangolins: Born Free USA believes that all eight species of pangolins—four in Africa and four in Asia—should be on CITES Appendix I. Roberts explains, “Pangolins are the most heavily-traded mammal in the world and are at risk from trade in their scales as medicines—despite a complete lack of efficacy in medicinal use. Pangolins are disappearing fast and a ban must be secured on international commercial trade.”

African Lions: Having successfully petitioned for the addition of Africa’s lions to the list of endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, at CITES, Born Free USA will be supporting the proposal submitted by Niger, along with many other lion range States, to uplist lions from Appendix II to Appendix I. “Lions are not only subjected to an international trade in trophies, but are also increasingly targeted by the international trade of their bones, which replace tiger bones in Asian folk remedies. This commercial trade is having an increasingly prejudicial impact on the species.” Read the proposal.

For more information about key issues Born Free USA will be involved with at CITES, visit www.bornfreeusa.org/cites. Born Free USA will be on Twitter and Facebook throughout the conference with live updates.

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.

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