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For Immediate Release: 12/07/10

‘Born Free’ Star’s Memoirs Now in Paperback

‘The Life in My Years’ by Wildlife Conservationist Virginia McKenna

Born Free USA is pleased to announce the release of “The Life in My Years” in paperback, written by the founder of the Born Free Foundation, leading wildlife conservationist and film icon Virginia McKenna. Actress Joanna Lumley, Born Free Foundation’s Founder Patron and wildlife activist, wrote the foreword.

In “The Life in My Years,” McKenna shares anecdotes and meditations of amusing, emotional, inspiring, sometimes frightening and often tragic experiences of her life working passionately to save wild animals. Her stories will captivate anyone who cares about the future of the planet and the creatures dependent on it.

McKenna is best known for her 1966 role as Joy Adamson — alongside her husband. actor Bill Travers. who played George Adamson — in the film “Born Free,” for which she received a Golden Globe nomination. The film told the dramatic true story of the Adamsons becoming surrogate parents to an orphaned lion cub named Elsa and her eventual release back into the wild.

McKenna’s and Travers’ lives were forever changed after making the movie and they began a worldwide campaign to save animals from commercial exploitation, incarceration in zoos, and loss of their natural habitat. The result was the creation of the Born Free Foundation, with their son Will Travers, now chief executive officer of the Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA.

In discussing his mother’s book, Will Travers says, “The vibrant family, her childhood, her views, her acting career, her adventures with and powerful love for my late father Bill … the lions, elephants, tigers, the compassion … are all in this book. It is tender and challenging, joyful and sad ... often funny. I hope people will enjoy reading about her lifelong journey and that they will be more than a little inspired by it.”

McKenna’s award-winning acting career spanned 35 years on the stage, in feature films, in documentaries and on television. In 1968 her husband formed a production company, making wildlife documentaries including “The Lions are Free”; “Bloody Ivory”; “Christian The Lion at World’s End,” from which the famous YouTube clip was taken; a series of films under the heading “The Wonderful World of Jane Goodall”; and many others. McKenna was in, or narrated, most of these projects.

Voted one of the most inspirational people of all time in a Daily Telegraph poll, McKenna was awarded the OBE for services to the arts and animal conservation in 2004 and in 2010 was voted a winner of the Alternative Rich List in the United Kingdom, an award designed to recognize individuals who enrich other people’s lives in ways money cannot.

Today, at age 79, McKenna spends most of her time volunteering for the charity that she, her husband and her son founded. She continues to work to encourage a greater understanding for wild animals — their right to live in the wild as nature intended; the suffering they endure through human domination and manipulation; and how the artificial environments of circuses and menageries have reached their “sell by date” and should be phased out in favor of keeping wildlife in the wild. She is also involved with the rescue of individual animals from intolerable captive conditions and their re-homing to Born Free-sponsored rescue centers in South Africa and India. The newest such center, about to be created in Ethiopia, already has a list of animals waiting to be welcomed to a better life.

“The Life in My Years” is available at Born Free USA, including copies autographed by Virginia McKenna (paperback $25, hardcover $35).

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 United Kingdom-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 www.bornfreeusa.org; on twitter at http://twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.

TCG books are exclusively distributed to the book trade by Consortium Book Sales and Distribution. Order by calling (800) 283-3572. SAN number: 63170X. Individuals may call (212) 609-5900 or visit the bookstore at www.tcg.org to order.

“The Life in My Years”
by Virginia McKenna
Paperback 300pp
$26.95 978-1-84943-035-7
December 2010
US Distributor: Theatre Communications Group (TCG)
Publisher: Oberon Books

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

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