Washington, D.C., February 1, 2016 -- For the first time, wildlife conservationists have confirmed that lions are living in a remote national park in Ethiopia, following a recent expedition supported by Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation. The discovery was made after an expedition into the heart of Alatash National Park in northwest Ethiopia, on the Ethiopia-Sudan border, led by Dr. Hans Bauer, a renowned lion conservationist working for Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU). See the complete report here.   

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation, “The confirmation that lions persist in this area is exciting news. With lion numbers in steep decline across most of the African continent, the discovery of previously unconfirmed populations is hugely important—especially in Ethiopia, whose government is a significant conservation ally. We need to do all we can to protect these animals and the ecosystem on which they depend, along with all the other remaining lions across Africa, so we can reverse the declines and secure their future.”

In this groundbreaking discovery, Dr. Bauer and his team found original and undisputable evidence of lions in the region—successfully obtaining camera trap images of lions and identifying lion tracks. The team also concluded that lions were likely to exist in the larger, adjacent Dinder National Park across the border in Sudan.

Alatash is a huge region that very few people have visited. Though lions are thought to have been present there for centuries, and locals knew of their existence in the area, the international community was unaware. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) only considered Alatash a “possible range” for the species.

Dr. Bauer said, “Lions are definitely present in Alatash National Park and in Dinder National Park. Lion presence in Alatash has not previously been confirmed in meetings at the national or international level.”

“Considering the relative ease with which lion signs were observed, it is likely that they are resident throughout Alatash and Dinder. Due to limited surface water, prey densities are low and lion densities are likely to be low. We may conservatively assume a density in the range of one to two lions per 100 km2. On a total surface area of about 10,000 km2, this would mean a population of 100-200 lions for the entire ecosystem, of which 27-54 would be in Alatash,” he added.

The African lion is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species, with a declining trend throughout most of its range. Lion numbers are estimated to have declined 50%-75% since 1980 and the species only occupies 8% of its historic range across the continent. Roberts adds, “Lions were thought to be locally extinct in Sudan, so the new findings are encouraging. Now that the expedition is complete, the next step is to communicate with the governments of Ethiopia and Sudan and look at the needs for conservation in the area so that this previously undiscovered lion stronghold can be protected.”

The discovery comes as Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation have just announced Born Free’s Year of the Lion 2016 initiative and the 50th anniversary of the iconic film, 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. The Foundation rescues animals from lives of misery in tiny cages and gives them lifetime care. Born Free protects lions, elephants, tigers, gorillas, wolves, polar bears, dolphins, marine turtles, and many more species in their natural habitats, working with local communities to help people and wildlife live together without conflict. The Foundation’s high-profile campaigns change public attitudes, persuade decision-makers, and get results. Every year, Born Free helps hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide. More at www.bornfree.org.uk.

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.

 

 

Born Free’s Manori Gunawardena, a leading elephant scientist, in attendance

Washington, D.C., January 26, 2016 -- Today, on International Customs Day, Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation applaud the Sri Lankan government for destroying more than 350 elephant tusks.

To demonstrate Sri Lanka’s commitment to combating the illegal wildlife trade, the country’s president, Maithripala Sirisena, as well as ministers, diplomats, and other distinguished guests—including John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) and Born Free’s Country Representative for Sri Lanka, elephant scientist Manori Gunawardena—witnessed the permanent destruction of hundreds of seized ivory tusks. (//www.flickr.com/photos/132476364@N06/sets/72157661640310653">Photos available here)

Gunawardena believes the event signaled a strong willingness for her country to combat illegal trade at the international as well as national level: “I am relieved that it’s finally happening and am thrilled at the buy-in from the president and prime minister. Sri Lanka is making a very strong statement by going ahead with the destruction with the support of the highest levels of government. This event will educate Sri Lankans on the gravity of global wildlife crime and its impact on their country. Culturally, the Sri Lankan public will never condone the slaughter of elephants.”

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation, “This brave decision by the Sri Lankan government is to be loudly applauded. Overwhelmingly, the world now recognizes that ivory belongs on elephants, and nowhere else. Today, Sri Lanka joins the growing number of countries taking bold action to deny wildlife traffickers their blood money and blaze a path for a future with wild elephants.”

The ivory was seized by Sri Lanka Customs in Colombo in May 2012 from a ship en route from Mombasa Port in Kenya to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Had it not been impounded, from Dubai, the ivory would have been sent on to Thailand. Following a request of the Sri Lankan government, a team from the International Consortium on Combatting Wildlife Crime collected DNA samples from the seized ivory. Later, forensic analysis revealed that the elephants had been poached in southeast Tanzania and northern Mozambique.

China, Kenya, Mozambique, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and the United States all took a stand against illegal wildlife crime in 2015 by holding high-profile events to destroy ivory stockpiles. Earlier this month, Hong Kong also revealed plans to ban the import and export of ivory and to close domestic markets.

Based on Born Free’s monitoring of reports relating to ivory seizures, it is estimated that more than 139,000 elephants have been poached for their ivory since January 2012 (www.bloodyivory.org). Born Free helped secure the international ban in commercial trade in ivory in 1989. Since then, Born Free has campaigned tirelessly against attempts to reopen international trade in ivory as well as to bring an end to all domestic and legal trade. Born Free also investigates poaching, exposes illegal ivory smuggling, and provides protection to elephants in their range countries.

International Customs Day (January 26), organized by the World Customs Organization, recognizes the role of customs officials and agencies in maintaining border security by focusing on the working conditions and challenges customs officers face.

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 habitats, 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.

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.

 

Watch Jora and Black’s epic 10,500-mile journey from Bulgaria to South African sanctuary

Washington, D.C., January  20, 2016 – This week the Born Free Foundation has released a heartwarming video of two ex-circus lions who were successfully rescued from Bulgaria and now thriving in their new South African home.

Eight-year-old brothers Jora and Black made international headlines when they were rescued by Born Free from a beast wagon in Bulgaria more than three months ago.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of the Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA, “Thanks to generous public support, Born Free was able to transport Jora and Black 10,500 miles via the United Kingdom to their new life and forever home at the Shamwari Game Reserve near Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  Their story has a happy ending; no wild animal should suffer in unnatural, cruel captivity, and Born Free will save every one we can until wild animal circuses are a thing of the past.”  

The seven minute video, made available for the first time this week, reveals how Born Free successfully rescued the lions, and shows the highly emotional moment the brothers were released from their traveling crates and stepped out onto African soil for the first time.

Born Free Foundation Projects Manager, Karen Pettman, said Jora and Black had settled into their new home quickly. “We are delighted that they have now adapted to their spacious home at Born Free’s Big Cat Rescue Centre on the Shamwari Game Reserve. Jora and Black clearly love being together and are very playful with each other. They are also becoming firm favorites with the center’s visitors, who they will often come out to say hello to, chasing each other along the edge of their enclosure.”

Taken in as small cubs, Jora and Black were originally part of a circus act touring Eastern Europe and Turkey. Following the Bulgarian government’s much-welcomed ban on the use of wild mammals in circuses, the lions were left to languish in a stifling beast wagon until the owners agreed to re-home them with Born Free. They will now be given lifetime care in their large, natural, and safe accommodation at the Born Free Jean Byrd Education and Rescue Centre in Shamwari.

The release of the video comes as Born Free declares 2016 the Year of the Lion to highlight the plight of lions worldwide and to mark the 50th anniversary of the motion picture Born Free, starring Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA co-founders Virginia McKenna and her late husband, Bill Travers as pioneering conservationists Joy and George Adamson, and their successful rehabilitation of Elsa the lioness to the wild. Screenings, activities, news, and events are planned throughout 2016.

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 habitats, 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.

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.

 

Year of action and celebration will honor the 50th Anniversary of the film Born Free, and a significant portfolio of critical work to protect lions globally

Washington D.C./Horsham, West Sussex, January 4, 2016 --  On the 50th anniversary of the iconic, award-winning motion picture Born Free, the Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA have declared 2016 The Year of the Lion. The initiative was announced today by Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, and co-founders of both organizations, Virginia McKenna OBE and Will Travers OBE, President.  

Elsa the lioness captured the hearts and minds of a worldwide audience in the 1966 classic film Born Free, but today the international wildlife charity that bears its name sounds the alarm over the future of lions. The film starred legendary actress Virginia McKenna and her late husband Bill Travers portraying the pioneering conservationists George and Joy Adamson and their successful rehabilitation of Elsa to the wild.

According to Roberts, “Born Free’s Year of the Lion campaign is reflective of the film’s anniversary that started it all, as well as the fact that today the fight for the survival of lions in the wild has never been more urgent.  Experts believe their numbers have plummeted to fewer than 20,000 across Africa, as their habitat dwindles and becomes more fragmented; horrific retaliatory killings are perpetrated; and lions by the hundreds are slaughtered each year by trophy hunters in the name of ‘sport.’ It is imperative that their plight is taken seriously, immediately. The species’ decline has been rapid and steep and without concerted action at all levels of government globally, the species could disappear from significant parts of Africa during our lifetime.”

Lions across West, Central and East Africa have declined by 60% or more over the past 20 years, and in West Africa they have been declared critically endangered. More than a dozen African countries are already thought to have lost their lion populations, and the international demand for lion bones and body parts is further exacerbating this downward spiral.  From 2003-2012, over 24,000 lion specimens were declared to have been exported from 102 countries, including 19 lion range states -- countries where lions still roam naturally in the wild.

Across the globe, the public is more aware than ever about the need to save lions before it is too late. The slaying of Cecil the lion made headlines worldwide in 2015, and the recent documentary Blood Lions revealed the horrors of professional and canned hunting to audiences in over 100 countries.  Many airlines have stopped shipping lion trophies; France and Australia have banned lion parts imports; and field conservation projects are underway across Africa to save this beleaguered species.

McKenna said, “There was a time, fifty years ago, when wild lion numbers were in excess of 100,000.  Though aware of the challenges lions faced, even then, I could never have foreseen the devastation that was about to befall this iconic species. Filming Born Free was a life-changing experience. It taught us to understand and respect lions and their nature. We could never have imagined the impact the film would have, not only on our family but also on the many millions that watched it. It is unimaginable to contemplate the possible extinction of these extraordinary animals and we must do whatever is in our power to stop their further decline.”

In 2016, the spotlight will be on lions at the meeting of The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), convening in Johannesburg where, in September, more than 180 countries from around the world will debate, and possibly decide, the future level of protection afforded to lions. Born Free is calling for an end to commercial trade and an up-listing of African lions to CITES Appendix I (highest priority).

During Born Free’s Year of the Lion, the organization will also participate in a major scientific lion census in the heritage site of Meru, the heartland of George and Joy Adamson and Born Free, to establish how many lions remain in the area. Steeped in the history of wild lions and their conservation, Meru is still home to the descendants of Girl, Boy and Ugas, three of the lions featured in the Born Free movie.

According to Travers, “It is hoped that with Year of the Lion and the poignant anniversary of the much-loved film, people will again look at what is happening to this most majestic and iconic of wild animals. Lions are in our DNA. It is still within our grasp to reverse this devastating trend, but only if we wake up now and take action.”  

There will be special screenings, events, news, and information online throughout 2016 to mark the 50thanniversary of the film.

President Barak Obama said “I think I may have teared up at the end (Born Free) when they release Elsa. I couldn’t have been more than four or five.” 

For further information on the Year of the Lion, visit: www.bornfreeusa.org/yearofthelion. and www.bornfree.org.uk/yearofthelion.

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.

 

“We are asking popular websites like Buzzfeed, The Dodo, and The Animal Rescue Site to pledge not to share online videos of pet birds for at least one day, on National Bird Day.” -- Born Free USA CEO 

Washington, D.C. December 18, 2015 -- As part of The 14th Annual National Bird Day on January 5, 2016, Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, in conjunction with Avian Welfare Coalition, is asking popular websites and the public to stop sharing online videos of birds in captivity. While seemingly entertaining, videos of captive parrots, parakeets, cockatoos, and other avian species, inadvertently promote the myth that they are domesticated pets. The reality is that they are wild, intelligent animals with emotional and physical needs that cannot be met in captivity.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation, “Online footage of parrots in cages is increasingly problematic. With each social media share, people wrongly accept that these birds make for cute, low maintenance pets. Not true. Even in homes where they are loved and pampered, birds are unable to exercise their natural, emotional, physical, and social behaviors for the many decades they are kept alive.”

Born Free USA is concerned that these videos are encouraging people to buy wild birds, without understanding how complex their needs are. “The tragic result of such videos will be more wild animals suffering a lifetime of neglect, loneliness, and displacement.  We understand and respect that millions of people already own wild birds, however, online videos simply do not tell the whole story,” Roberts adds.

Unlike dogs and cats who split from their wild ancestors tens of thousands of years ago, “pet” birds are no different from their wild relatives. They are not equipped for a life in captivity, best exemplified by the fact that pet birds often have their wings clipped and are kept in cages, denying them of their most basic instinct --  flying.

Roberts explains, “When people post videos of beautiful birds doing silly things in captivity, oftentimes that bird is actually displaying distress, such as screaming and aggression or desperation by bonding with a human out of loneliness when their natural need is to bond with others of their species – in some cases a single mate for life.” 

On January 5, Born Free USA is asking that popular websites like Buzzfeed, The Dodo, and The Animal Rescue Site, among others, remove captive bird videos, and that the public not share them.  Roberts says, “These are all informative, entertaining, well-intentioned websites and we hope they will respect wildlife and take action.  National Bird Day is a time to celebrate birds for the true wild animals they are. Think outside the cage by viewing and sharing live webcams and videos of birds in the wild, or simply go outside and enjoy native birds!”

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

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.

“New Jersey has the opportunity to be a leader on this issue.” Born Free CEO

Washington, D.C. November 9, 2015 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, will testify in New Jersey at a hearing today in support of Senate Bill S. 3416 to ban the possession, transport, import, export, processing, sale, or shipment of many imperiled species, including the “big five” African species: African elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, and Cape buffalo. 

The bill, introduced by Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-21), is intended to curb trophy hunting. It was introduced 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 in July. His death was particularly tragic because he was a known, local favorite, and was collared as part of an Oxford University study.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, "Illegal trafficking of wildlife products is directly responsible for shocking declines in wild animal populations in recent years, and this bill is a crucial step toward reducing the availability of wildlife in consumer markets, thus reducing poaching and trade. New Jersey has the opportunity to be a leader on this issue. In 2014, New Jersey became the first state to ban the sale or import of ivory and rhinoceros horns in order to stem the state’s role as a major hub in the illegal trade of these products.”

Senator Raymond Lesniak said, “S. 3416 will stop nonsensical trophy killings being imported, transported or possessed in New Jersey in order to protect endangered, threatened or vulnerable animals from being killed to be a trophy for someone. I urge my colleagues to do the right thing today by voting in support of this humane legislation.”

Trophy hunting, involving the selective killing of wild animals for ‘sport’ is extremely controversial. Pro-hunting groups often make the argument that hunting brings conservation funding into a country through hunting permits. However, not only are the steepest declines in lion populations seen in countries with the highest hunting intensity, but there is proof that the funds reaching the local community are miniscule, reports Born Free USA. 

In 2013 Born Free USA, along with partner organizations, commissioned Economists at Large to investigate the facts.  The study shows 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. Additionally, trophy hunting revenues account for only 1.8 percent of overall tourism in nine investigated countries that allow trophy hunting, and even pro-hunting sources find that only three percent of the money actually reaches the rural communities where hunting occurs. While trophy hunting supporters routinely claim that hunting generates $200 million annually in remote areas of Africa, the industry is actually economically insignificant and makes a minimal contribution to national income.

This information reinforces Born Free USA’s call for wildlife photography safaris and other non-consumptive use, to be the focus for tourist activities, which make a greater contribution to conservation and the African economy without killing lions.

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.

Washington D.C., November 2, 2015 -- The Born Free Foundation is working with its partners at the Arcturos Bear Sanctuary in the mountains of Northern Greece, to enable the rescue and relocation of three female bear cubs from Georgia who were found wandering the streets of Tbilisi following the floods in June this year. The nine-month-old cubs have been kept in the municipal dog pound outside the city center, as the authorities had nowhere else to put them. The kennels they are currently housed in are designed for the short-term keeping of stray dogs and are unsuitable for bears.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “These intelligent, inquisitive orphaned bears are subjected to the noise of barking dogs day and night, are at risk of disease, and are severely stressed. The authorities continue to do what they can, but they desperately need to be moved, and Born Free is doing everything possible to initiate and expedite the process to get them to our sanctuary by Christmas.”

The cubs will join 10-month-old Ushka who arrived at the Arcturos Bear Sanctuary in the spring after tragically sustaining a broken back from possibly being hit by a car, and is now paralyzed in both hind legs. Ushka is currently under expert care at the sanctuary where he pulls himself along a smooth, tiled floor as a means to move and play. 

Bears are in serious trouble throughout Europe. Many languish in dysfunctional zoos and circuses and some countries, like Albania, still have dancing bears. In the wild they are persecuted and often illegally hunted or victims of human/animal conflict in ever decreasing areas of natural wilderness. Born Free is calling for tighter controls, enforcement of laws and more humane solutions to the problems they face. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are an estimated 14,000 brown bears in Europe (excluding Russia). It is estimated that there are just 150 in Greece, and about 450 in Georgia.

In Georgia, brown bears are on the country's ‘Red List’ and protected - and greater efforts are being made to conserve and look after them. However, poaching persists and accidents happen. Born Free is looking to enter discussions with the government on how to enhance the welfare of bears and conservation of this troubled species.

Legendary actress and the co-founder of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, Virginia McKenna OBE, said, “For us it is always the most wonderful moment when we are asked to help with a rescue. One, little ‘Ushka’, has many challenges to face – but we want to help him overcome as many as possible, for as long as possible. The other three cubs now in Georgia, will have a hopeful future if we can get them quickly out of the dog kennels where they languish. Time is of the essence here and we cannot fail them.”

To help Ushka and the three cubs, visit www.bornfree.org.uk.

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.  The Foundation rescues 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. The Foundation’s high-profile campaigns change public attitudes, persuade decision-makers and get results.  Every year, Born Free helps hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide. More at www.bornfree.org.uk.

Washington, D.C., October 14, 2015 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, will be one of several groups testifying in support of a bill to ban the sale of ivory and rhino horn in Massachusetts on Wednesday, October 21. House Bill 1275, introduced by Representative Lori Ehrlich, will be heard in the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.

This important legislation would restrict commerce in ivory and rhino horn throughout the state. Illegal trafficking of these wildlife products is directly responsible for shocking declines in wild populations in recent years, and this bill is a crucial step toward reducing the target market.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “Massachusetts has the opportunity to be a powerful leader on these issues. This bill is of particular importance because Boston’s port, like any entry point to the U.S., is a site where wildlife parts can be smuggled into the country and laundered as legal products. The elephant poaching epidemic across Africa has reached crisis levels and rhino poaching is escalating exponentially, so we have no time to waste in enacting legislation.”

The crisis has become increasingly severe over the past several years. It is estimated that more than 129,000 elephants have been poached since January 2012. “If the killing rate continues, certain African elephant populations could go extinct within a decade,” says Roberts.

Additionally, all five extant rhino species are in serious danger due to poaching. Africa’s black rhinos are critically endangered, with a population of fewer than 5,000. There are only 3,000 one-horned rhinos remaining in India and Nepal, and Southeast Asia’s Sumatran and Javan rhinos number only in the hundreds and tens, respectively. The horns, made of a substance akin to fingernails, are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Despite conclusive evidence that they have no curative properties, hundreds of rhinos are killed for their horns every year.

Poaching is not only a wildlife conservation and animal welfare issue, but is also directly linked to transnational criminal syndicates, according to the Born Free USA reports, Ivory’s Curse and Out of Africa. Poaching supplies $7-10 billion to a wildlife trafficking enterprise that enables terrorism, weapons, and human trafficking, feeding devastating violence and instability in Africa. Global criminal syndicates use poaching as a substantial source of funding for their brutal activities, which also threatens U.S. national security.

New York and New Jersey passed similar laws restricting the commerce in ivory and rhino horn last year, and California more recently. View a map of state action to crack down on the sale of ivory and rhino horn at www.bornfreeusa.org/ivoryinfographic.

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.

Ex-circus lions complete epic 10,500-mile journey from Bulgaria to the UK to South African sanctuary

Washington D.C., September 28, 2015 -- The Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA have announced that Jora and Black, the two rescued ex-circus lions from Bulgaria, have completed an epic journey of more than 10,500 miles to begin new lives today in their ancestral home of Africa.

The two seven-year-old brothers were rescued by Born Free in July this year from a cramped metal beast wagon near Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, assisted by international animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS. Their horrific plight made international headlines.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, "Every time we rescue an ill-treated wild animal, forced into unnatural, cruel captivity for years, it is truly a cause for celebration. The story of Jora and Black and their opportunity to live in peace in South Africa is an uplifting one; a testament to the hard work of so many dedicated people including Born Free staff, and an inspiration that drives us to save more animals in need wherever they sadly languish."

The lions were flown on Saturday from Bourgas airport to London Gatwick by Thomson Airways. Eagerly awaiting their arrival was the legendary actress and Born Free Foundation Co-Founder, Virginia McKenna OBE, who greeted Jora and Black airside. McKenna said, “It’s fantastic to see the animals have travelled so well. They still have a long way to go but I am really happy that with the generous public support we are able to offer them a wonderful new home with our friends at Shamwari Game Reserve. They deserve no less.”

Jora and Black then traveled by road in an approved quarantine vehicle to London Heathrow.  The lions then commenced from Heathrow to Johannesburg. On arrival Sunday in South Africa they were transported by a convoy of Land Rover Discovery vehicles and trailers to their new home at the Born Free Jean Byrd Education and Rescue Centre, at the award-winning Shamwari Game Reserve, just outside of Port Elizabeth, where they were released into a spacious, safe and enriching natural accommodation, surrounded by the sights and sounds of Africa.  Upon release, the brothers greeted each other fondly after exploring the bush for a couple of minutes.  They will be enjoying their first meal together at Shamwari this afternoon. 

Taken in as small cubs, Jora and Black were originally part of a circus act touring Eastern Europe and Turkey. Following the Bulgarian government’s much-welcomed ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, the lions were left to languish in a stifling beast wagon since the summer of 2014, until their owners agreed to re-home them with Born Free.

With Jora and Black every step of the way was Shamwari Group Head of Wildlife and Veterinarian, Dr Johan Joubert, and Born Free’s Big Cat Expert, Tony Wiles. Speaking in transit, Wiles said, “The lions are doing really well and we are very happy with their progress. They are travelling well in their crates and we are keeping a close eye on them throughout the journey, with regular health checks and water stops.”

Shamwari, meaning “my friend” in Shona, is the pinnacle of private game reserves. Stretching 25,000 hectares over a malaria free landscape, it is one of the largest private conservation initiatives in Southern Africa.

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.  The Foundation rescues 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. The Foundation’s high-profile campaigns change public attitudes, persuade decision-makers and get results.  Every year, Born Free helps hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide. More at www.bornfree.org.uk.

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.

More than 100 fur coats and hats previously collected went to comfort injured young wildlife around the country  

Washington, D.C.  September 8, 2015, – Today, Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, announced the return of its successful 2014 “Fur for the Animals” campaign, a donation drive to collect hats, coats, and other items made from animal fur. Donations will once again be sent to wildlife rehabilitation centers around the country and used to comfort orphaned and injured wildlife. This year’s drive will run September 8 to December 31.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “Animal trapping and fur farming are not only barbaric to animals, but also serious public safety and environmental issues. One of our goals is to reduce the supply, demand, and social acceptance of fur and end the cruelest forms of trapping in America.  With this campaign, people are actually able to repurpose and recycle old furs and give them back to the animals – we can’t undo the damage done to the many animals who suffered for those garments, but at least we can achieve some good in the end.”

The donated fur not only provides comfort and warmth to orphaned and injured wildlife, but also serves as a symbol to show that fur belongs to the animals, not to fashion.  Born Free USA collected over 100 furs since the first campaign in 2014.

To donate, fur can be dropped off or shipped to Born Free USA, 2300 Wisconsin Ave NW, Suite 100B, Washington, DC 20007; or Born Free USA, 1220 H Street, Suite 103, Sacramento, CA 95814 before December 31, 2015.

Once collected, Born Free USA will send the fur to wildlife rehabilitation centers across the country, including the following campaign partners:

1. Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, Kendalia, Texas

2. The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center, Ramona, California

3. The Fund for Animals Cape Wildlife Center, Barnstable, Massachusetts

4. Gila Wildlife Rescue, Silver City, New Mexico

5. Urban Utopia Wildlife Rehabilitation, New York, New York

6. Snowdon Wildlife Sanctuary, McCall, Idaho

Born Free USA welcomes new wildlife rehabilitation partners, who can contact the organization at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., for more information. 

Born Free USA commends the growing number of fashion retailers vowing to go fur-free.  In July 2015 the luxury brand Hugo Boss announced it will be completely removing real animal fur from its collections beginning with their Fall/Winter 2016 line.  Hugo Boss is joining such brands as American Apparel, Esprit, H&M, Steve Madden, Marks & Spencer and Topshop. For a full list of fur-free fashion retailers click here.     

Born Free USA is a member of The 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. The Fur Free Alliance represents more than 40 animal protection organizations in 28 countries and 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.

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