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 ®.
TV and film personality Rosie O’Donnell is in hot water with environmentalists and wildlife advocates in the wake of a family outing off Miami Beach. The Sun-Sentinel reported she and her kids went fishing, and produced a photograph showing them standing (and beaming) around the corpse of a hammerhead shark hanging by a giant hook.
Following the initial report, O’Donnell and people who were angered by the story engaged in a spirited debate on Twitter. “What a bad mom!” a critic tweeted, to which O’Donnell responded, “ok then — thanks.”
When it was pointed out to her that hammerheads have survival issues — two of the nine species are endangered and one is vulnerable — O’Donnell responded: “we were not going after any species in particular — u catch what u catch.”
Sharks are slaughtered by the tens of millions each year to satisfy the demand for shark fins, which are used in soups for ceremonial occasions, mostly in China and Southeast Asia. Although I have not heard why O’Donnell found shark fishing such a fun and defensible family outing, I doubt her motivation was to remove and consume the shark fin. It’s not clear whether she and her kids ate any part of the shark, or what happened to the carcass at all. If the picture is any indication, they participated in the shark’s death because they enjoyed it.
I don’t know Rosie O’Donnell personally but I see she is involved in many charitable efforts, many of them benefitting children. She does good things, and I applaud them. The shark incident gives her another opportunity to shine: She can open her mind to what critics say about cruelty and conservation, open her heart to a species under siege and … well … maybe even apologize. She’s a celebrity; people would listen.
That’s my unsolicited advice to her, anyway. For what it’s worth, coming from someone whose celebrity parents made their compassionate voices heard through Born Free.