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 ®.
What is the point of the animals being in the zoo in the first place?
Few ever get returned to the wild. Studies show that visitors gain little by way of education benefit. Urgent field conservation suffers as funds are consumed by captive facilities. (For example, there are plans for a $50m elephant house at the Denver Zoo — more than the entire conservation budgets for many African nations combined.)
Steve Feldman, spokesman for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, asserts that “there’s no idyllic wild state,” for animals. And he is right. The wild is not idyllic — it’s natural. It’s where animals evolved to be and zoos are no substitute.
Of course, we should do what we can to make the “cradle to grave care” (or lifetime incarceration) of wild animals as free from suffering as possible, but we should never delude ourselves that we are doing is anything more than tinkering with the lives of wild animals for our passing amusement — something to do of an afternoon.
Now if we really cared, if we wanted real conservation, we’d invest our time, effort, and resources protecting and nurturing the world’s wild ecosystems on which life on Earth — including human life — depends.
Zoos, even those few that try to care, are no more than living museums displaying a handful of human-selected living works of art. If we’re not careful, soon that’s all we’ll have.