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 ®.
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.
Zoos are prisons for wildlife, where many animals are kept in solitary confinement with no hope whatsoever for parole. Lions, tigers, bears, giraffes, flamingos, monkeys, birds — you name the species and it’s probably now locked up for life in some small, dreary, unnatural gawked at for a few seconds by fidgety kids, wise-cracking teens and distracted parents who’ve just plopped down $20 for drinks and burgers at the zoo’s Rain Forest Café and now are trying to figure out what their next entertainment buzz will be.
Zoos invariably claim they conserve species. And that they are educational facilities. For the most part, none of that is really true. Conservation is about what remains in the wild — not a few individuals in a zoo. Education is about learning the truth — zoo enclosures don’t present a realistic, educational portrayal of wild animals’ lives.
Zoos are very good, however, at telling us about elephants who play the harmonica.
And that has me singing the blues.