“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.

 

Shocking report shows brutal, dangerous, and sometimes illegal animal trapping practices common on private, public, and protected land

Washington, D.C., September 7, 2016 -- Five years after Born Free USA’s shocking undercover investigation Victims of Vanity, which exposed the vicious truth about the U.S. trapping industry, the wildlife conservation and animal welfare organization announced today the release of Victims of Vanity II. The latest Born Free USA undercover operation began in August 2015 at the Annual National Trappers Association (NTA) Convention, held in Hamburg, New York and continued throughout the 2015-2016 winter trapping season in Adirondack Park in upstate New York and in rural southwest Iowa. The report reveals trappers setting cruel, indiscriminate, and sometimes illegal traps not only on private and public land, but also in local and state parks: land ostensibly set aside for the protection of wildlife.

 

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “Our investigator witnessed callous disregard for wildlife, public safety, and the law. This detailed report shows illegal steel-jaw leghold bear traps for sale; the use of Conibear, leghold, and drown-pole traps in the six-million-acre national historic landmark, Adirondack Park; and traps set next to homes, and a trap line for beaver in a park where trapping is prohibited. The footage we obtained is heartbreaking, and the fact that this archaic, barbaric practice is still going on is impossible to comprehend.”

 

“This investigation reaffirms our commitment to ending this vicious, bloody ‘tradition,’” Roberts added. “Born Free USA will continue efforts to ban all traps from federally protected lands. We are pushing for passage of the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act, which would ban snares, leghold traps, and Conibear body-grip traps within the 150-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System. We also urge Congress to support and pass the Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act, which bans the interstate commerce of leghold and body-grip traps—the two traps most often used in the U.S. today.”

 

Victims of Vanity II investigation findings include:    

 

National Trappers Association Annual Convention:

  • The selling of steel-jaw leghold bear traps, which are not legal for ‘sport’ trapping in the lower 48 states, and are generally not an accepted or widely-used method for wildlife control.
  • Skinning demonstrations with piles of dead animals strewn on the floor and over the tops of coolers, skinned in front of a live audience, and their carcasses tossed into garbage bags.
  • The trapper took Born Free USA’s investigator to a place he called “a great killing area.” After dismantling a beaver dam—which is illegal to do in New York—the trapper blocked the only entrance to the dam with a row of Conibear traps, condemning the beaver to death when he returned to repair the dam and secure his home.
  • Illegal trapping, including setting large, dangerous Conibear traps on land: something the trapper knew was illegal and asked the Born Free USA investigator not to film. (Born Free USA still obtained footage.)
  • The trapper used a torturous drown pole trap: a leghold trap attached to a pole with a drowning lock. The trap is set in water along a river bank. When the animal is trapped and struggles to swim away, the pole drags him or her to the bottom of the river and slowly drowns him or her—a process that can take up to 20 minutes of a slow and painful death.
  • Under Iowa state regulation, trapping is included in the definition of hunting. The trapper showed Born Free USA’s undercover investigator three beavers he had trapped in Rapp Park and Recreation Area—a 100-acre park north of Shenandoah, Iowa where hunting, and therefore trapping, is explicitly prohibited.
  • The trapper caught two coyotes using unpadded leghold traps. The anxious, exhausted coyotes were subjected to further vicious treatment from the trapper, who kicked the first coyote and laughed at the second coyote who, stumbling with fatigue, refused to give up struggling. In an effort to spare only the pelt, the trapper—who refused to be filmed at this point—shot both coyotes in the lungs, forcing them to die slowly and painfully as their lungs filled with blood, suffocating them.
  • The trapper told Born Free USA’s undercover investigator that trapped coyotes are regularly kept alive and sold for blood sport. After already enduring the pain, stress, and injury of being trapped, a coyote is put into an enclosure with dogs and condemned to a horrific, violent death—all to the cheers of excited onlookers who make bets on the outcome.

New York’s Adirondack Park:

Page County, Iowa:

To view the complete undercover investigation report, Victims of Vanity II, click here.

 

Roberts adds, “While graphic and extremely disturbing, the report, images, and videos we collected reveal the inherent cruelty of common, everyday trapping practices.” The public can help put an end to this cruel industry by stopping the demand for fur. Born Free USA asks that people never purchase real fur or shop at stores that sell fur. Instead, support the more than 400 retailers that have committed to a no-fur policy by joining the Fur Free Retailer program. Additionally, we urge everyone to write their members of Congress urging an end to cruel trapping in America.

 

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.

 

 

Law is first of its kind in the nation; prohibits breeding and capture of orcas

Washington, D.C., September 14, 2016 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, commends California governor Jerry Brown for signing S.B. 839 yesterday: a budget bill that includes the California Orca Protection Act. Authored by Assembly member Richard Bloom (D-50), this law bans the possession, capture, export, and breeding of orcas in California, with an exemption for orcas currently held in captivity.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “California is setting a momentous precedent by becoming the first state in the nation to outlaw breeding and future possession of orcas. This legislative remedy remains urgently necessary, even after SeaWorld’s major announcement on March 17 that it would immediately end the breeding program for its orcas globally and phase out its theatrical orca shows by 2019. The California Orca Protection Act is an essential next step to legally codify SeaWorld’s business decision, and also prevent other corporations from filling this newly vacant entertainment space. It ensures that the 11 orcas in San Diego are the last generation of captive orcas displayed in the state.”

Orcas are unsuited to captivity and suffer enormously in marine parks. These remarkably intelligent animals swim 100 miles per day in the wild and have profound relationships with their family pods. In the wild, the average lifespan is 30 years for males and 46 years for females, although they have been known to live 90 years. Captive orcas are susceptible to a range of ailments and issues that cause misery and drastically shorten their lives. Mental anguish takes a severe toll and orcas have been known to self-mutilate out of boredom and desperation. Most die before they reach age 25 in tanks that are only 1/10,000th of one percent the size of their natural home ranges.

Roberts adds, “The needs of these smart and social animals cannot be met at all in captivity. Great progress has been made for orcas this year, and California’s new law is another groundbreaking step toward ending orca captivity entirely. Born Free USA hopes other states will follow California and pass similar compassionate legislation to empty the tanks.”

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.

 

California becomes second state to outlaw cruel weapon used to control elephants

Washington, D.C., August 30, 2016 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, commends California’s Governor Jerry Brown for signing S.B. 1062 yesterday to ban the use of bullhooks and other weapons designed to inflict pain for the purpose of training or controlling the behavior of an elephant. Introduced by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-33), the law will go into effect on January 1, 2018.

A bullhook is a long, thick pole with a sharp metal hook attached to the end, used to inflict pain as negative reinforcement. It is a common, yet highly notorious weapon in the elephant trainer’s arsenal. California is the second state in the nation to pass a prohibition on bullhooks, following Rhode Island’s precedent-setting law in July.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “We are seeing a groundswell of public support across the country for ending the use of cruel bullhooks as the public becomes increasingly concerned about the welfare of performing animals—and legislators from coast to coast are responding. Bullhooks and other weapons used by trainers produce unimaginable suffering in elephants who are forced to submit to unnatural acts before an audience day after day, year after year. There is no justification for causing this type of physical and mental anguish.”

In addition, numerous elephant experts claim that sharp implements can do severe damage to elephants’ thick but highly sensitive skin. Trainers often embed the bullhook into the soft tissue behind the ears, inside the ear or mouth, under the trunk and chin, in the armpit area, on the back of the legs, in and around the anus, and in tender spots around the feet. The fear that the bullhook instills in elephants means they will, under duress, do everything possible to escape further blows. Its cruel power to implement negative reinforcement techniques explains why the bullhook has historically been a ubiquitous weapon for circus trainers. After that type of abuse, simply holding the bullhook near the elephant when in front of an audience is threatening enough to compel obedience.

“We thank Senator Lara for sponsoring this crucial legislation and applaud Governor Brown for making the compassionate choice to sign it into law,” says Roberts. “This is a momentous step forward in the fight to end brutality against performing animals, and I hope other states will follow California’s example without delay.”

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.

 

Wildlife experts reach out to future conservationists with engaging activities that will educate about decline of lions

Washington, D.C., August 26, 2016 -- Experts believe that fewer than 20,000 lions exist across Africa today and they only inhabit 8% of their historic wild range. The decline of the lion has been rapid and steep—and, without global action, the species could disappear from significant parts of Africa during our lifetime. Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, has launched a critical educational program as part of its 2016 Year of the Lion campaign to teach children about the plight of lions, why they matter, and what needs to be done to make sure that they continue to survive. Born Free USA has created engaging, fun, age-appropriate lesson plans about the issue: one plan for first through third graders and one for fourth through sixth graders. These lesson plans are also available for families to download in order to open a conversation with their children about keeping wildlife in the wild. 

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, who is both an international wildlife conservation expert and the father of a 12-year-old: “When it comes to protecting wildlife, so much can change in a single generation. The actions of our children will determine whether that change is positive or negative: whether they will save species from suffering, or doom them to extinction. Kids have the power. We must protect imperiled species in the generations to come… before they vanish. Teachers and parents can encourage students to become future wildlife conservationists—or, at the very least, understand the issue and be informed about the impact for animals and for people. We believe these lesson plans can do just that.”

The Year of the Lion lesson plans use compelling facts, engaging talking points, and activities to get kids thinking about the king of the jungle, and how they can make a difference just by being aware of the importance of lions to our planet.

The lesson plans include similarities between big cats and domestic ones; information about their size, weight, sounds, and habits; and an array of questions, stats, and games. In addition, kids are encouraged to send their drawings of lions This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for display in Born Free USA’s online lion gallery wall to help spread the message of saving lions. A fifth grade class in Newtown, Connecticut has already submitted its drawings. The lesson plans also include a link to a song, a slide show, and a storytelling activity.

Roberts says, “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. 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 in 2015, and the 2015 documentary Blood Lions revealed the horrors of hunting to audiences worldwide. The time is right for us to let our kids know—without graphic language or horrific images—that there is a desperate need to save this beleaguered species, and that they can be part of the solution.” 

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 1966 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.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Born Free USA: Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation”—the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free USA’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

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

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