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For Immediate Release: 02/02/11

Born Free USA Database Sheds Light on Public Safety Issue

Born Free USA, a leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, says that a snake bite that sent a Fair Lawn, NJ, man to the hospital in critical condition on Monday, Jan. 31, 2011, is just one of thousands of unnecessary occurrences when wild and exotic animals interact with humans.

Every year, captive wild animals kept as private “pets,” as well as in zoos and circuses, are involved in incidents that result in human injury or death. Millions of reptiles — snakes and lizards — in private possession pose severe safety risks to humans, including the transmission of deadly diseases, strangulations and bites. Snakes are the most common “pet” reptiles — about 3 percent of U.S. households possess 7.3 million pet reptiles.

According to Will Travers, Born Free USA’s chief executive officer, “By their very nature, exotic animals are dangerous creatures. This New Jersey man kept three snakes as ‘pets,’ not only putting his own life at risk, but those of his family and community. Given the life these animals are forced to endure as pets, it is no surprise that they exhibit their natural instincts to the detriment of their owner and the public at large. These animals are time bombs waiting to explode.”

Born Free USA tracks such incidents through its online database designed as a resource for the media, lawmakers, activists and the public, to help shed light on the magnitude of the issue.

The database lists more than 1,450 attacks and incidents that have occurred since 1990, searchable by state, species and keyword, and includes a map graphic marking each location — a shocking visual to illustrate how geographically widespread the problem is.

History has proven that injury or death 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 an animal used for entertainment.

Travers wants people to know that “Wild animals in captivity are ticking time bombs when it comes to public safety. They should not be confined. They deserve better than that.”

Born Free USA asks the public to report any incidents that may not already be in the database by e-mailing details to 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 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.

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

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