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 ®.
Every now and then, a hit movie has a positive message about animals that has the potential to resonate with the general public and inspire millions of people to adopt a gentler, more compassionate approach toward all creatures. “Rio” is such a film.
The animated musical tells the story of Blu, a Spix’s macaw who returns to his native Brazil after 15 years of captivity in Minnesota. The fast-moving plot, adorned with fantastically vivid colors and creative scenes, is a crowd-pleasing mix of romance, danger and comedy. This led to “Rio” perching atop both the U.S. and global box office lists.
If you haven’t done so already, please see the film and take its strong conservation message to heart by endeavoring to Keep Wildlife in the Wild® and to think twice before purchasing a parrot (or any bird) as a pet.
Born Free USA staff – especially those with children – have seen and enjoyed the film. Senior Program Associate Monica Engebretson has been deeply engaged in exotic bird issues for many years. She wrote a children’s book, “Lucky,” that — years before “Rio” — captured the essence of why exotic birds are not appropriate “pets.”
Monica told me she has mixed feelings about “Rio,” applauding its conservation message but wary of how the film might give some people the wrong idea. “As entertaining and engaging as the birds in this film are,” she said, “in real life, parrots do not make good pets, especially for children.”
Born Free USA works on behalf of exotic birds in several ways. We help sponsor the rehabilitation and release of African Gray Parrots in Cameroon, Africa. We are working toward conservation of scarlet macaws in Honduras. Every January, more and more people take part in our National Bird Day.
One-third of the world’s 330 parrot species are facing extinction due to human-caused factors that include habitat loss and capture for captivity. Please join us, in whatever way you can, in our efforts to honor and admire — from a distance — these magnificent birds.
And go see “Rio” — it’s a hoot!