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For Immediate Release: 09/09/10

Lion Attack Is Latest Reminder Wildlife Should Stay in the Wild

Born Free USA, the nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, says the lion attack on its trainer at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is just one of thousands of incidents involving a wild animal attack on a human, including the fatal bear attack last month in Ohio.

According to Born Free USA's chief executive officer, Will Travers, “These attacks are frighteningly common. Wild animals are wild, and as long as humans insist on capturing them for pets or for entertainment, our lives and our children’s lives are in danger. The trainer in this incident is lucky. A person’s life can be taken in an instant by a wild animal, no matter how well ‘trained’ or seemingly ‘tame’ they may be.”

Last month Born Free USA launched an unprecedented interactive database of deadly and dangerous captive wild animal incidents designed as a resource for the media, lawmakers, activists and the public to help shed light on the magnitude of the issue. Born Free USA’s goal is to provide a resource to support action that can prevent another incident like the Las Vegas lion attack, the Ohio bear tragedy and the hundreds of other horrendous incidents listed in the database, and to put an end to the captive wildlife trade and private ownership of wild animals.

The database lists more than 1,300 attacks and incidents that have occurred since 1990, searchable by state, species, type and keyword, and includes a U.S. map graphic marking each location — a shocking visual to illustrate how geographically widespread the problem is.

History has proven that an exotic animal attack on a human being can happen at any time, anywhere, as a result of someone keeping a wild animal as a pet, a captive animal escaping from a zoo, or animals used for entertainment attacking their human caretaker.

Travers wants people to know that: “Many people who have been attacked profess their love for the animal and were not physically abusive toward the animal. It is not necessarily abuse that provokes an attack. Wild animals are ticking time bombs who cannot be tamed and should not be confined.”

Wild animals belong in the wild — not in the confinement of circuses, zoos, backyards or apartments. Kept in captivity, wild and exotic animals are not able to perform their natural behaviors and many animals literally go insane, suffering psychological and physical deprivation. Humans are at equal risk as a result of escapes, bites or other forms of attack.

Born Free USA’s captive wildlife database includes 905 exotic "pet" incidents, 79 performing captive exotic animal incidents and 227 zoo incidents. The state with the most incidents overall is Florida. The top species is reptile. The human death toll to date is 69.

If you know of an exotic animal incident that is not in the database, please contact Born Free USA at info@bornfreeusa.org.

Born Free USA (BFUSA) is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation and public education, BFUSA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and destructive international wildlife trade. BFUSA’s Primate Sanctuary in Texas is home to more than 500 primates rescued from laboratories, roadside zoos and private possession. BFUSA brings to America the message of “compassionate conservation,” the vision of the U.K.-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film "Born Free," along with their son Will, now CEO of both organizations. BFUSA’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally.

More at http://www.bornfreeusa.org; on twitter at http://twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.

Media Contact: Rodi Rosensweig, 203/270-8929; rodicompany@earthlink.net

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