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 ®.
This May sees the release of the film adaptation of the best-selling novel "Water for Elephants," starring Robert Pattinson and Reece Witherspoon. While we acknowledge that the film touches on cruelty toward animals in circuses, we are extremely disappointed that the producers did not take the book’s core message to heart and make the compassionate decision not to use trained wild animals in the film.
Elephants forced into the circus, such Rosie (the elephant in the film), live miserable lives of extended periods of confinement, long-haul transportation and inadequate housing in “beastwagons,” all in the name of so-called entertainment. It has been frequently documented that the training and handling of wild animals in circuses can include violence, the use of bullhooks or prolonged restraint.
There is, of course, also the issue of the individual elephant, Tai, who was used in filming “Water for Elephants” and the ongoing publicity photo shoots and live appearances. Tai is "owned" by a company that rents out wild-born elephants for rides and entertainment. We believe that it is never justified or appropriate to use wild animals in entertainment, and with recent, amazing technological advances in film production (the coming "Planet of the Apes" remake will only use computer-generated imagery apes, for example), there is no longer any excuse for exploiting wild animals in this way.
We live in hope that people who are not aware of the suffering of circus animals will be enlightened and support a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses.
Elephants don’t belong in the circus or the zoo – they belong in the wild. That’s something every compassionate conservationist knows!