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.
Without a doubt there is one policy that all the prospective Dallas City Council Members (including those seeking to be newly elected to office this week) can and should unite over.
The future of Jenny, the elephant at the Dallas Zoo.
Experts reckon that at no time in the past has the earth been blessed with such a variety and abundance of wildlife. More than 30 million species fill every available niche, habitat and ecosystem ... but far from looking forward with optimism, we stand on the edge of the abyss. For at no other time in recorded history are species disappearing as fast as they are today — sometimes before they have even been discovered or properly recorded. It is estimated that human activities are driving species into oblivion at 30 times their natural rate — and we are to blame.
In nature almost impossible to find.
In zoos all too common — and not just in the low grade, impoverished zoos scattered around the developing world (usually an embarrassing remnant of colonial days).
The Dallas Zoo, in one of the wealthiest states of the world’s superpower, has a solitary female African elephant — Jenny.
Hard to believe, I know.
The Born Free Foundation, the organization that started it all (founded by my parents, Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers), is a staggering 25 years old.
Although I am always pleased to hear that an animal has been rescued from an horrific situation, this happiness is always overshadowed by the fact that this animal was put in a position from which it had to be rescued — problems such as illegal trade and exploitation continue to negatively impact wildlife around the world.
News from Thailand recently described the confiscation of eleven orangutans by authorities after they were discovered by the investigation team of the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand.
Some years ago, two well-meaning US citizens, a husband and wife, adopted a baby chimpanzee. They brought him up as if he was a child. When he got too big he was re-homed to a refuge and they visited him almost every birthday.
Some years later the couple asked the owner of the refuge whether they could go in with this now fully grown male chimp to celebrate his birthday — into a cage he shared with several other chimps. The result? The woman escaped with serious injuries. The man was beaten to within an inch of his life, losing fingers, toes and other parts of his body in the process.
It makes me mad!
Instead of listening to the wisdom of some of the world’s greatest elephant experts, with hundreds of years of combined experience and expertise, 11 of the 15 Los Angeles City Council members bought the vague promises of LA Zoo authorities and voted to continue the controversial and meager Pachyderm Forest for Billy, the zoo’s solitary male Asian elephant and others the zoo now hopes to acquire. Less than 4 acres. A staggering $42 million price tag.
Yesterday I flew to Los Angeles to assess for myself the situation of Billy, the sole elephant at the LA Zoo. Billy lives on less than half an acre of compacted soil and mud. The zoo proposes to spend $42 million to construct a new exhibit area and bring in more elephants.
In my view and the view of numerous experts who spent a lifetime studying elephants, what Billy endures now and what is proposed by the LA Zoo for Billy fall woefully short of what could and should be achieved for this unfortunate animal. Regardless of what criteria you wish to apply — space, social environment, physical and psychological needs, financial, conservation, education — what Billy has at the LA Zoo and what is being proposed by way of the exorbitantly expensive Pachyderm Forest — a misnomer if ever I heard one — is totally inappropriate and inadequate.