Born Free USA Blog
by Adam M Roberts,
Chief Executive Officer
When it comes to animals, Adam Roberts not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk. Since beginning his animal advocacy career in Washington, D.C. in 1991, Adam's ambition, tireless involvement, and profound knowledge of conservation and wildlife issues have cemented him as a go-to voice for protecting animals — and he has elevated Born Free USA to the respected and impactful organization that we know today. Adam's compassionate, informed, and forward-thinking blogs will surely motivate you to join us in our fight to Keep Wildlife in the Wild.
Bravo, Springer… bravo!
In early 2002, an emaciated, sickly baby orca was spotted in the waters off of Seattle, all alone, without her mother. She was named Springer. After months of observation and growing popularity, she was rescued and rehabilitated by a coalition of animal welfare groups and ultimately released back into the wild with her family. (Born Free Foundation helped raise funds to support and monitor Springer’s ongoing protection after her release.)
For twenty years, I have been advocating for more to be done to stop the horrific trade in bear parts—gallbladders ripped from slaughtered American black bears; bile extracted from caged Asiatic black bears in China.
Okay, not sure if this is somehow “outing” me as a geek, but back in my teens, I loved the Renaissance Festival. The jousting, the singing, the performances, the costumes and the role-playing, the food: in general, the festive mood of it all, and the transportation to a different time and place.
Elephant poaching has reached crisis levels. Elephant poaching has reached crisis levels. Elephant poaching has reached crisis levels.
I’m not quite sure how many times and in how many different ways it has to be said to make a global impact, but elephant poaching has reached crisis levels—and something must be done now.
SeaWorld has felt the formidable backlash since Blackfish. SeaWorld’s reputation, its profits, its future: all drowning, possibly irretrievably, in the midst of a long-awaited cultural shift toward compassion for cetacea.
Rob Laidlaw, a friend and long-time colleague, just published a book called “5 Elephants": another accessible and important written plea for compassion. “5 Elephants” goes beyond the typical facts and figures about the species, and tackles the grave challenges faced by elephants, both wild and captive—and follows the stories of five well-known elephants to encourage the reader to care about these animals as individuals. Rob covers everything you could ever want to know about elephants—from their physicality, to their ranges, to their personal histories, to their challenges—all in plenty of detail, to educate and entertain. (And, besides being wonderfully readable, I thoroughly enjoyed the stunning photography.)
There has to be a balance somewhere—a sense of reason—in the way we approach animal protection issues nationally. So often, those of us who are determined to protect animals from cruelty, suffering, and neglect are accused of exaggerating the problems, of “making a mountain out of a molehill,” and trying to take away Americans’ freedom to exploit animals for entertainment, food, clothing, or sport.
Soups, scales, and smugglers
While species such as the African elephant, the lion, the panda, and the tiger tend to represent the precipitous decline of wild animals, the pangolin—an unassuming, solitary creature—is all but forgotten in mass media. Ironically, this relatively unknown animal is among the most coveted, poached, and traded. News reports tell the tale: “officers seized 2.34 tonnes of [pangolin] scales in 115 bags,” “250 kg of pangolin scales seized in France,” “956 frozen pangolins found smuggled into China,”… story after story of pangolin scales and bodies bagged and smuggled across international borders. Unfortunately, the creature’s defense mechanism of rolling into a tight ball aids poachers, who simply pick them up. Each pangolin usually weighs less than 10 pounds, yet pangolins are trafficked around the world by the ton: thousands and thousands of innocent animals slaughtered by the greedy traders.