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For Immediate Release: 11/28/11

Be Fashionable — and Compassionate — This Holiday Shopping Season

Born Free USA Offers Shopping Tips That Can Help Wild Animals and the Environment

The 2011 holiday shopping season is a time for consumers to make ethical purchasing decisions that can have a greater impact for animals and the environment. Born Free USA, a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, is encouraging consumers to be extra wise this holiday season and to make informed decisions when they spend their holiday dollars.

According to Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA, “People get caught up in the gift giving and generosity of the season, and it is the optimal time of year to remind them to keep an eye on the big picture and the major impact holiday shopping can have on wildlife. Purchases can either save animals or kill them — literally. And the holidays are an opportunity for people to think about how their buying habits can have a positive global impact. Every purchase can really make a substantial difference.”

Born Free USA offers these simple tips for compassionate holiday shopping that makes a world of difference:

Live animals are not gifts. There are many “novelty” gift items that involve live animals being sold as educational and green products. Such items include various “grow your own frog” kits. Frogs floating aimlessly in a tiny tank with some gravel and a stalk of bamboo is cruelty. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control, African dwarf frogs, who often are part of these kits, have been implicated as the source of dangerous transmissions of salmonella infections to children in the past.

There is no such thing as “ethical” fur. Some people are saying that fur is “green” because it is “natural.” There is nothing natural about wearing fur. More than 50 million animals are violently killed for fashion every year. For one single mink coat, 60 to 80 animals are killed; 20 animals for a fox coat; and 12 to 15 for a lynx coat. The fur industry is a threat to our environment, contributing to higher energy costs, pollution, land destruction and reductions in populations of wild animals, including endangered and threatened species who may be accidentally trapped and killed.

A little fur trim is not fashionable. It is a myth that fur or fur trim is a byproduct of the meat industry. The fur trim market is an equal, if not greater, threat to animals than is the making of fur coats. Fur trim is not what is “left over” from making full-length fur coats. Thousands of animals are killed simply to provide trim for fashion, home décor, toys and other merchandise. Even purchasing the tiniest bit of trim supports cruelty. From cuffs, collars and the lining of gloves to accessories for dolls, beware of fur trim.

Avoid ivory. It is never okay to wear Ivory. Widespread poaching continues to threaten elephants in the wild. Thousands of African and Asian elephants are slaughtered annually to fuel the ivory trade. Only elephants should wear ivory.

Check out eco-fibers. When buying clothing look for organic cotton or other eco-fabrics. Cotton is one of the world’s most chemically dependent crops and the pesticides used on cotton are classified as among the most toxic by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Bamboo, soy, and hemp fibers are good choices because their production requires fewer herbicides and pesticides than non-organic cotton and they biodegrade faster than petroleum-based fibers.

Steer clear of feathers. Feathers on clothing and fashion accessories from headbands to earrings are very popular this year and consumers should ask themselves where the feathers came from — how were they collected, how were the birds who produced them treated, and whether the feathers come from a threatened or endangered species. Only birds should wear feathers.

Shop for a cause. Many companies offer products from which a percentage of sales are donated to a charitable organization. There are also compassionate gift ideas that directly support animals, such as Born Free USA’s “Adopt-a-Primate” program. For $52 ($1 a week), the gift helps provide food, care, and rehabilitation to residents at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Dilley, Texas. You can choose to adopt any of three macaques, each of whom has his or her own Welcome Kit complete with biography, color photo, certificate of adoption, and the newsletter The Primate Post. If you order by Dec. 15, you will receive an additional gift from Born Free USA as part of your adoption package, guaranteed for delivery by Dec. 25. The sanctuary is home to more than 500 primates, many of whom were rescued from abusive situations in laboratories, roadside zoos and private possession.

Pets can be fashionable, too. When buying gifts and accessories for animal companions, be sure to only purchase items from compassionate pet supply stores — stores where they do not sell live animals of any kind. Born Free USA’s Pet Supply Locator database http://www.petsupplylocator.com/ makes it easy.

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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