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 ®.
An unimaginably horrible thing happened yesterday at the Pittsburgh Zoo. A 2-year-old boy died when he fell into an exhibit of African dogs, 11 of whom “immediately attacked,” police said.
Whether the boy died from the fall, which was 11 to 14 feet, or because of the mauling has not been reported. His name has not been released pending today’s autopsy.
How did this tragedy occur? From what I understand, the toddler’s mother placed him on a railing over the exhibit, and because she lost her grip or he lost his balance, he fell. The boy’s father later arrived at the zoo and both parents are undergoing grief counseling.
According to the Associated Press, in September the zoo passed its five-year review by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, meaning it met all safety standards. Sunday’s accident strongly suggests that those safety standards need to be strengthened.
What the tragedy also strongly suggests, to those who are willing to entertain a (sadly) unconventional thought, is that keeping wild animals caged for public amusement is a bad idea. As I have said many times before (watch my recent “debate” with a zoo apologist), zoos may claim to conserve species or educate people, but their overriding raison d’être is to make money — to exploit the animals in pursuit of the mighty entertainment dollar.
As a human being, and as a parent, I am terribly saddened by the boy’s death and my heart goes out to his family. I wish Sunday’s tragedy in Pittsburgh had never happened, and I will continue to work toward a day when zoo deaths are no longer even possible.