(This story appears in the fall/winter 2011 issue of Born Free USA's Animal Issues Digest.)
Near our Washington, DC, office, Serbian Crown, a restaurant known for its Russian and French specialties, is offering a December menu special under Les Gibiers et Volailles (wild game and poultry): Scaloppini of Lion. Thinly sliced lion meat served with wild mushrooms. When we inquired about the source of the meat we were told it was indeed lion meat, imported from Africa, allegedly from a "farm."
From Animal Issues, Volume 40 Number 3, Fall 2009
The past 8 to 12 months have certainly been very busy at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary. As I told you when I introduced myself, we recently completed a new, lush 2.5 acre enclosure for our group of baboons. Initially, I was most concerned about one of our older olive baboons, Boon, and his adjustment to the new surroundings following the 2008 death of his longtime companion, Holly. But Boon is thriving and when he’s not busy roaming the dense underbrush foraging for snacks he can be found perched stoically atop a large fallen tree — free to be a baboon.
Captured by the thousands from exotic locations, few wild birds survive the long journey to distant pet markets. Primates, rare reptiles, and other species are traded as “pets” to people who don’t understand these animals’ specialized needs. Bears are slaughtered for their gallbladders and paws. Elephants are murdered for their ivory, and young elephants are forcibly torn from their families to be shipped to far-off zoos. Fox, ermine, mink, and other furbearers are ensnared in barbaric traps to provide fur for fashion.
“Keep Wildlife in the Wild” is more than just a slogan. It’s the bedrock philosophy of Born Free USA and our colleagues at the UK-based Born Free Foundation. Together, the global Born Free family works tirelessly to save animals from lives of misery in tiny cages and give them lifetime care.
As our members know, A Life Sentence, the Animal Protection Institute’s 2006 investigation into the private ownership of exotic animals, has provided disturbing insight into the keeping of these animals as “pets.”
In the course of our everyday lives, we humans encounter other animals in a wide variety of settings and situations. We may view farmed animals in transport trucks on the highways, companion animals in “pet” shops, and captive exotic or wild animals used for entertainment or kept as “pets” in the residences of friends or neighbors. If we are fortunate, we may encounter wild animals when hiking or exploring at wildlife refuges or nature preserves.
It is both convenient and comforting to assume that specially-written laws protect the animals in each of these situations from harm. Unfortunately, however, such an assumption is misguided.
Not long ago, an animal advocate contacted API for advice. Like many people, the caller was deeply troubled by the mistreatment of animals in circuses, and wanted to take action. She wasn’t exactly sure what she could do, but was considering trying to get her home state to pass a law restricting the use of wild animals in circuses and traveling shows.
As API members and supporters, know, we’ve actively campaigned to improve the lives of captive exotic animals for many years. In fact, API is widely recognized as a leading expert on the issue.