Born Free USA’s chief executive officer, Will Travers, has been honored for his work to protect endangered and suffering animals around the world with an OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire). The Order of the British Empire recognizes distinguished service to the arts and sciences, public services outside the civil service, and work with charitable and welfare organizations. Travers, recognized for his animal welfare and conservation work, will be presented with the award at Buckingham Palace later this year.
In receiving the news, Travers said, “If I could share this recognition with all of my wildlife heroes who have fought — and are still fighting — for a more compassionate world where wild animals do not suffer for our entertainment, our vanity or our ‘sport,’ and where wild species and wild places are protected, respected and treasured, then I would. To be honored in this way, in this very special Jubilee year, has left me temporarily speechless.
“I want to thank those who have inspired, encouraged and sustained my efforts, especially my mother, father and entire family, my colleagues at Born Free throughout the world, and all of our wonderful supporters and friends.”
Travers has dedicated most of his life to wildlife issues, ever since he lived with his parents, actors Virginia McKenna (named OBE in 2004) and the late Bill Travers, in Kenya while they filmed their starring roles in the 1966 movie “Born Free.” Following the movie, his parents increasingly devoted their lives to fighting captive animal suffering, rescuing animals, and wildlife conservation. He followed in their footsteps.
Together in 1984, they co-founded the Born Free Foundation. Born Free’s projects and campaigns now span five continents and are supported worldwide. In 2002, Travers brought the message of “compassionate conservation” to the United States and launched Born Free USA, now a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation.
A global leader working to protect wildlife, among Will Travers’ most notable accomplishments is his efforts to ban the international ivory trade. In 1989, in response to the decade-long slaughter of more than half Africa’s wild elephant population, Elefriends was formed. Its massive “Ivory Out” petition collected 1.6 million signatures and was submitted to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) by Travers. This contributed to a global ivory trade ban passed in 1990. The campaign for elephant protection continues through the work of the Born Free Foundation and a global coalition called The Species Survival Network, of which Travers is president. In the late 1990s, together with the Kenya Wildlife Service, Born Free helped carry out Kenya’s first mass “elephant relocation,” saving the lives of 29 wild elephants.
Another of Travers’ significant efforts is Zoo Check, which has taken on the global zoo industry. Milestones include launching the Zoochotic Report, which exposed the abnormal behavior and suffering of captive animals in Europe’s zoos. This led directly to the establishment of the European Zoo Directive (passed in 2002), which seeks to address the conditions endured by animals in Europe’s slum zoos by establishing proper licensing and enforcing minimum welfare standards.
He has also been instrumental in helping Ian Redmond OBE and the United Nations Environment Program initiate GRASP (Great Ape Survival Partnership), which is creating a strategic global framework for wild great ape conservation.
Recently Travers and Born Free returned two former captive dolphins to the wild in the Mediterranean, established Ethiopia’s first wildlife Rescue and Public Education Center, initiated a program of livestock protection in Kenya to reduce the persecution of wild lions, confirmed the relocation of more than 100 homeless primates to the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Texas, and released the results of an investigation into 200 zoos in 20 European countries.
Travers has travelled extensively to help animals in more than 50 countries, including Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Chad, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Niger, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Travers’ Born Free USA is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally.
Media Contact: Rodi Rosensweig, firstname.lastname@example.org, (203) 270-8929.