Born Free USA Blog
by Adam M Roberts,
Chief Executive Officer
When it comes to animals, Adam Roberts not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk. Since beginning his animal advocacy career in Washington, D.C. in 1991, Adam's ambition, tireless involvement, and profound knowledge of conservation and wildlife issues have cemented him as a go-to voice for protecting animals — and he has elevated Born Free USA to the respected and impactful organization that we know today. Adam's compassionate, informed, and forward-thinking blogs will surely motivate you to join us in our fight to Keep Wildlife in the Wild.
Animal rescue, rehabilitation, and release (or providing lifetime care) is complicated stuff. It requires intelligence, determination, steadfastness… and, well, money.
Born Free prides itself on being out in front on work to re-home animals from deplorable, inhumane situations and to give them lives worth living. Born Free Foundation just moved Simba, a former captive lion, to a wildlife sanctuary in Malawi; Born Free USA just rescued two primates from the pet trade… or, perhaps I should phrase that as two more primates rescued from the pet trade; and I’ve just arrived in Ethiopia for the annual meeting of the directors of Born Free Ethiopia.
As you likely know, Born Free Ethiopia has done some amazing work rescuing wild animals in need – lions from zoos, cheetahs from the Middle East pet trade, and all manner of animals being mistreated, struggling to survive. And, when you run a wildlife center in a developing country, you do everything you can – whatever it takes – to save every possible animal. My friend Stephen Brend, who runs the country office for Born Free in Ethiopia, is that intelligent, determined, and steadfast champion for wild animals in need.
While Stephen ensures that all of the animals at the rescue center are well cared for in sprawling enclosures replete with acacia trees, grass, climbing structures, etc., he also makes sure that infant wildlife, animals too small and infirm to live at the center, are fully nurtured. The African grey parrot—the 21st species being cared for by Born Free Ethiopia—currently occupies the breadth of Stephen’s home office desk, spreading carefully-selected food throughout the room; two baby hyenas (perhaps the most playful, wild, and LOUD animals I’ve ever encountered) reside in his garden, clamoring for their daily feeding from a milk bottle as they are painstakingly nursed to full strength; and the young caracal kitten, pointed ears shooting toward the sky, romps around his bedroom, sleeping on his pillow. Dedication indeed.
Someday, each of these animals will find a home at the rescue center, as so many others have. They will be stronger, able to live “on their own,” and released to the wild whenever possible. But in every case, they are given a chance at a better life than they ever would have had without Stephen’s careful and thoughtful intervention.
There are animals indigenous to Ethiopia who are drastically different from those we have in the U.S. (Imagine if, instead of a raccoon raiding one’s trashcan, you found a hyena there instead!) But, the cruelties are the same. Zoos. Pet trade. Cages. Chains.
And, it just takes one Stephen Brend in Ethiopia, or Tim Ajax at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Texas, to give me hope that, at the end of the day, the dedicated animal caretakers of the world will win out over the animal exploiters.
The caracal would agree, I’m sure.
For now, painstaking rehabilitation and tender, loving care. Perhaps there will come a day when our services are not needed, and all of these animals will just live free.
Keep Wildlife in the Wild,