The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Dear Friends

A special 2009 hello to one and all.

I’m starting the year with the good, the bad and the ugly!

The bad news is that recent reports over the holiday period that 300 or so animals have died due to poor care at the Chiang Mai Night Safari (Bangkok Post 24.12.08), prompted the following response from our Founder, Virginia McKenna.

“So much for this so-called animal paradise. I visited the Chiang Mai Night Safari in 2006. We drove through the “safari” in a clanking train with the animal enclosures on each side illuminated by the driver’s lamp. Also illuminated were the fences and the animals’ indoor quarters. The finale was a line of chained elephants.

For the Zoo’s Director, Mr Preecha, to blame the hundreds of deaths on travel exhaustion and digestive problems is a laugh, if it were not a tragedy. If, as he says, the animals ate too much and eventually died what does that tell us about the expertise of the vets and keepers? And if he believes that the death of birds, flying squirrels and deer is not a big issue, he is not a fit person to be in charge of anything. The future for the 290 newborn animals looks a bleak one. A nightmare safari would perhaps be a better name.”

Now for the ugly:  The dreadfully distasteful shunting of pandas around the world as ‘good-will gifts’ makes me feel physically ill.  Taiwan has just received some and there is every chance that Edinburgh will be getting some as well.  Why?  Is it good for the pandas?  I don’t think so.  Is it good for conservation?  No.  Is it good for our understanding of the natural world?  Not a bit of it.  It is simply business.  (The proposed Edinburgh transaction has been described as primarily commercial by Alex Salmond MSP, First Minister).

And now the good.  It is Born Free’s 25th anniversary year; a time both to look back and recognise the body of work that represents everything this organisation stands for and to look forward to what we hope to achieve in the next 25 years.

Do check out our website where you will find details of events, activities and campaigns special to our Silver Jubilee.

I do hope that you all had a peaceful and joyous Christmas and New Year and hope that amidst all the other things you have to think about you will reserve a little space for Born Free and the animals in the months ahead.

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