Born Free USA Blog
by Will Travers,
Chief Executive Officer
What can you say about a big-hearted bloke who has rescued dolphins, tigers, elephants and more and whose parents once helped a lion cub from a department store by caring for him in their backyard and engineering his rightful return to Africa? You can safely say that he's got great animal instincts! In 1984, Will Travers joined his parents — "Born Free" film stars Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers — to form what became The Born Free Foundation. With knowledge, passion and compassion dripping from his every word, Will's blogs are sure to make you embrace our crusade to Keep Wildlife in the Wild ®.
We’ve just done something rather rash. We acted instinctively, with our hearts not our heads. Let me tell you what we’ve done. I know you’ll understand …
Last week I got a heart-wrenching phone call from Ethiopia. It was Stephen Brend, our project director there. “If we don’t rescue this lion cub, they’re going to shoot him."
In a case where human obstructionism trumps animal protectionism, the World Trade Organization (WTO) earlier this month found that the United States is playing unfair with Mexico by selling tuna that is labeled as “dolphin-friendly.” It is an issue I have tracked for nearly two decades.
Zoos. Don’t get me started.
But what’s that you say? There’s an elephant at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, DC who plays the harmonica. And there’s zoo-provided video footage to prove it?
All right, that got me started.
“It’s obviously very unfortunate.”
That’s what the man in charge said after two cheetahs in his South African reserve attacked a visitor for three minutes, leaving her with multiple lacerations on her head, stomach and legs, and the loss of “a lot of blood.” The victim, a Scottish woman who was celebrating turning 60, had been petting the animals, who had been billed as hand-reared and tame.
Note: Will Travers yields his space this week to colleague Melanie Scheible, Born Free USA’s executive assistant. Melanie writes:
I was walking with a friend the other day when we passed a woman with two large, grayish dogs on leashes. I commented on the unusual animals and she informed us that the animals were wolves, pure-bred. She didn’t elaborate on how or why she obtained the animals. As we walked past, my friend remarked that it was sad to see someone confining these wild creatures to her urban environment when humans already had spent tens of thousands of years domesticating a hundred other species of perfectly suitable pet dogs.
Toronto’s City Council last fall approved the transfer of three aging elephants from the local zoo to our good friends at the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s sanctuary not far from Born Free USA’s headquarters in Sacramento. We cheered, because this decision clearly was in the elephants’ best interests.
I cannot say I am a fan of One Direction. Nor can say I am not a fan. Having just heard Brian May of Queen reprise “Born Free” I must admit that I am rather comfortable with my ignorance of contemporary boy bands.
But I can say with confidence and authority that one of its members, Louis Tomlinson, is being childishly ignorant when he says he wants a pet monkey like one of his idols. “I am a big Michael Jackson fan. He was a real inspiration and had so many great songs,” says the (this is hard for me to admit) Brit.
Our friends at the Kenya Wildlife Service report that one poacher was killed and six arrested in three separate recent incidents. During one week in late March, KWS officers gunned down six elephant poachers in two separate incidents.