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On Our 40th Anniversary, an Extraordinary New Chapter Begins

From Animal Issues, Volume 38 Number 4, Winter 2007

Published 12/31/07

The Animal Protection Institute has never been afraid to do the right thing when it comes to helping animals. Fighting animal cruelty, suffering, and neglect, requires courage and vision.

In this issue we announce probably the most visionary step in our history. In a move that redefines the animal protection movement, API has joined forces with Born Free USA to become Born Free USA.

By uniting our two organizations we stand ready to become a dynamic force for animals in need in the United States and around the world. Our unique combination of vision, commitment, and experience means Born Free USA United with Animal Protection Institute will be a leader that the animals can trust — and so can you.

We know that effective action for captive and wild animals is your top priority. We also know that you want to see organizations working together to deliver even greater results. By combining with Born Free USA we have met those priorities. In the coming months we believe that our exciting “action for animals” agenda will inspire you and tens of thousands of compassionate people like you to rededicate your support to the cause you care so much about.

The Story of an Individual Animal

We are sure you have heard of the film Born Free and the true story of Elsa the lioness. You may have heard of the UK-based Born Free Foundation, founded by the film’s stars Virginia McKenna and her late husband Bill Travers. Born Free USA is the US not-for-profit that seeks to drive forward the Born Free mission — preventing individual wild animal suffering and protecting threatened species in the wild. (See our special insert for more information and photos.)

After Born Free, Virginia and Bill made An Elephant Called Slowly (1969), starring a little elephant calf named Pole Pole (Swahili for “Slowly Slowly”). After filming, the couple asked if their new friend could be returned to the wild but sadly, when Pole Pole was just two years old, the Kenyan government gave her to the London Zoo.

In 1982, Virginia and Bill heard reports that all was not well at the zoo. They decided to visit and found Pole Pole living in a barren enclosure, all alone, prematurely aged by captivity.

For the first time in more than 10 years they called out her name, “Pole Pole!” She turned and came to them, straining to touch their familiar hands with her outstretched trunk. Despite her distress, despite the passage of so many years, she remembered them. “It was a heartbreaking and life-changing moment,” Virginia recalled.

A renewed campaign to give Pole Pole a better life ended in tragedy when, in 1983, at just 16 years of age, she collapsed and was destroyed.

Determined that Pole Pole’s short life and untimely death should not be in vain, in 1984 Virginia and Bill, together with their son Will, launched Zoo Check, which in 1991 became the Born Free Foundation.

Continuing to Help Individual Animals

Today the Born Free Foundation is a highly respected, dynamic presence in Europe, Africa, Asia and other parts of the world where its instantly recognizable logo stands for justice and compassion for all wild animals in need. Born Free USA was established in 2002 to bring that message and vision to caring people throughout the Americas.

API is absolutely thrilled about the new combined organization. “While API has been a leader on captive and wild animal issues for years, we will now be even stronger,” says Nicole G. Paquette, Esq., now a Senior Vice President of the new organization. “Our combined expertise and resources can deliver even greater success than we’ve already achieved in protecting animals from cruelty and exploitation.”

Will Travers, Virginia and Bill’s son, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Born Free Foundation and now CEO of Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute.

“Will is an acknowledged expert and a dynamic leader on animal protection issues,” continues Nicole. “He is the ‘perfect fit’ for API, and we cannot think of a better individual to ensure that we continue making history on behalf of animals.”

The new team is further enhanced by Adam Roberts, Born Free USA’s former Vice President and now the second Senior Vice President at Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute. Based in Washington DC, Adam’s talents and energy will help ensure that our message truly spans the nation.

The future is indeed exciting. Not only will we continue to work to end the exotic “pet” trade, the exploitation of animals in entertainment, and the use of cruel body-gripping traps, but we shall turn the spotlight on wildlife trade, the conservation of endangered and threatened species, and much more. We will continue the groundbreaking work of our Primate Sanctuary in Texas, where nonhuman primates are rescued and provided with lifelong care in as natural an environment as possible.

Wherever wild animals are in trouble, wherever they need our help, Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute will be there. With the support and commitment of our members — people like you — we are poised to fight injustice and animal suffering no matter how great the challenge.

This is an exciting time. The history of the animal protection movement is being rewritten. As a “family” of like-minded individuals Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute will change animals’ lives for good. We invite you to join us in celebrating this historic occasion by making as generous a gift as you can. The results will astound you.

Learn more about Born Free USA at www.bornfreeusa.org, and about the Born Free Foundation at www.bornfree.org.uk.

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