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For Immediate Release: 07/09/14

Born Free Cheetahs Grab World Cup Action

Washington, D.C. -- In celebration of the World Cup, Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation released a video today on YouTube featuring nine rescued cheetah cubs playing soccer with their newly acquired Boomer Balls (donated by Wolters Kluwer). Filmed at Born Free’s Ensessakoteh Wildlife Rescue, Conservation and Education Centre in Ethiopia, the game allows the cheetah residents the opportunity to stretch their legs, learn some essential survival skills, and have fun.

Stephen Brend, the Born Free Foundation Ethiopia country director said, “The ‘Cheetah World Cup’ has been a real success here. Our rescued cheetah loved their new game and it was a great opportunity for them to get some exercise.”

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the acting CEO of the Born Free Foundation, “It is amazing to be able to give these cubs a safe, active environment. All of the cheetahs currently being cared for by our rescue center in Ethiopia were rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. Young cubs are stolen from the wild by criminals, and then pass through the hands of dealers, often on the way to the Middle East to become exotic pets on a chain. It is a horrific business. These are the lucky ones.”

With fewer than 10,000 remaining in the wild, cheetahs are now amongst the world’s most endangered big cats. Last week, staff from the Born Free Foundation travelled to Somaliland to rescue a cub, which had been removed from its mother by an animal trafficker. Little Fentene, as he has been named, was destined for a life of misery as a ‘pet’ before he was brought back to the 190 acre reserve, where he will be well cared for.

Conserving and protecting wild cheetahs is high on the agenda at this week’s Standing Committee to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Geneva, where delegates from Born Free will be highlighting their plight.

The Born Free Foundation is a dynamic international wildlife charity, devoted to compassionate conservation and animal welfare. Born Free takes action worldwide to protect threatened species and stop individual animal suffering. Born Free believes wildlife belongs in the wild and works to phase out zoos. The Foundation rescues animals from lives of misery in tiny cages and gives them lifetime care. Born Free protects lions, elephants, tigers, gorillas, wolves, polar bears, dolphins, marine turtles and many more species in their natural habitats, working with local communities to help people and wildlife live together without conflict. The Foundation’s high-profile campaigns change public attitudes, persuade decision-makers, and get results. Every year, Born Free helps hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide. More at www.bornfree.org.uk.

Born Free USA is a global 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 USA brings to North 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 Travers. Born Free USA’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, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

Media contact: Rodi Rosensweig, publicrelations@bornfreeusa.org, (203) 270-8929.

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