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 ®.
We certainly have our fill of outrage in the animal protection business. Last week I received another unsavory serving of it when I learned a baby chimpanzee had been mauled to death at the Los Angeles Zoo — in front of zoo visitors.
The 3-month-old female, who was the first chimpanzee born in the zoo in 13 years, was grabbed from her mother by an unrelated male who tossed the infant around, resulting in her death.
Jennie Becker, the zoo’s curator of mammals, told reporters that any attempts to save the baby chimp would have placed zoo employees in danger. That’s true. She also was correct, but astonishingly callous, in shrugging off the incident by adding:
“They're wild animals and unpredictable.”
Wild animals? As in, they belong in the wild? That’s not what Becker meant, of course, but any rational look at what happened Tuesday — baby chimp violently killed in front of families on a routine outing — strongly suggests that having animals kept in cages for humans’ amusement is a bad idea. And unpredictable? Such behavior is entirely predictable, given that male chimps have been known to kill unrelated infants in the wild. Perhaps the urge to put the baby chimp on show for all the visitors outweighed full consideration of the risks of introducing her to adult males.
Keeping animals in captivity for human entertainment is simply a very bad, very ingrained, very outdated and very tiresome idea that must be opposed by all of us who want a more compassionate world.