Archive for October, 2016

Virginia McKenna’s Born Free

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

I was going to write about the documentary which was shown on Channel 4 on Sunday evening but then I thought, why? Here is everything you need to know if you are in the UK and haven’t seen the film, or wish to see it again.

Letter from Virginia

I was overwhelmed by the response to the documentary shown on Channel 4 on Sunday evening, charting the story of how the film Born Free was made and how it changed my life, and the lives of my late husband Bill and our eldest son Will, forever.

The many emails and messages I have received have been humbling and deeply touching and I wanted to thank everyone who so kindly wrote.

If you did not see the film then I believe you can watch it by following this link.

Many people have asked me what they can do to help, and my son Will has made the following suggestions which I hope you may find useful.

Please don’t stay silent. We are the voices for the wild animals we hold in trust and who cannot speak for themselves. Whether your passion is lions, or elephants, rhinos or pangolins or, indeed, all wild species, we must ensure our elected leaders make the protection of wildlife a top priority. You can write to your MP or, if you wish, to the Prime Minister herself – I always believe in going to the top!

Please tell your friends and family about the work of the Born Free Foundation. For nearly 33 years we have been fighting for wildlife both in captivity and in its fragile natural habitat. I know that millions of people, like you, care deeply about the future of life on earth. We simply must spread the word.

And finally, if you would be willing, then I invite you to become part of my family, the family of Born Free, through adopting one of our rescued or free-living animals or by joining Born Free and helping make our voice, our impact and our influence even stronger.

I was so incredibly lucky, over 50 years ago, to make a film with Bill that opened our eyes and changed the way we looked at the world. We could not have done that without the Adamsons, and especially George who became a lifelong friend.

Thanks to them, the Spirit of Elsa burns brightly and Born Free is the torchbearer for this and future generations.

I do hope you will want to help keep the flame burning.

Thank you so much.

Blogging off,

Will

Improving The Lives of Animals in Europe’s Zoos Can Only be Achieved by Working Together

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Dear Friends,

There are millions of wild animals in Europe’s 4,000 or so zoos. Many live in grim conditions. Making their lives better, even while we work towards the day when our efforts and resources are directed at ‘keeping wildlife in the wild’, must be a top priority, as my friend and colleague, Daniel Turner, explains.

Blogging off
Will

Improving The Lives of Animals  in Europe’s Zoos Can Only be Achieved by Working Together

This week, Born Free has been exhibiting a series of extraordinary photographs of wild animals taken at zoos across the European Union.

The exhibition, presented at the European Parliament in Brussels, is striking, yet shocking, considering the plight of these animals were captured this year. Our photographers, award-winning Britta Jaschinski and Jo-Anne McArthur, have ensured the debate about the role of zoos focuses, for once, the way in which the animals are kept.

“Great pictures, and a necessary initiative” expressed Josu from Italy, who has visited the exhibition this week, whilst Barbara, from the Czech Republic, commented, “A long way to go. Horrifying!”.That’s Born Free’s biggest concern. There are millions of wild animals in the estimated 4,000 EU zoos and if even half that number are being kept in conditions that fail to meet their basic welfare needs, how can we begin to make a difference to the lives of so many animals?

Politicians, who have rallied behind our efforts this week, can help us make a difference. The South East of England MEP, Keith Taylor, who sponsored our exhibition, also organised a 2-hour round-table discussion on the welfare impact on zoo animals, ensuring that key issues were considered in detail. Politicians can hold the European Commission (the EU civil service), those responsible for the implementation of the EU zoo law (the EU Zoos Directive), to account and highlight the need for significantly improved animal welfare standards.

The governments of each of the 28 EU countries can certainly make a difference too. Ultimately their relevant authorities – State employed zoo inspectors and veterinarians – are responsible for the implementation of the requirements of the EU Zoos Directive and the enforcement of national zoo law.

Born Free’s EU Zoo Inquiry has revealed that many authorities actually lack the knowledge and expertise needed to ensure high standards in wild animal care. Addressing this surprising and deeply worrying revelation is the next priority for the Born Free Foundation team but, only a collaborative approach, with other stakeholders, is likely to address this knowledge deficit.

Last, but by no means least, the public’s ability to influence change must never be under estimated. The welcome announcement by TripAdvisor yesterday, that it would be stopping its promotion of captive animal attractions that exploit animals through direct public interaction, is a result of public pressure.

YOU can influence your politicians, your national government and even the zoos themselves. How? By contributing to an EU-wide public survey evaluating the role of zoos – and specifically whether zoos do or should contribute to biodiversity conservation. Want to take part? Born Free has developed an informative guide which helps you through the process, but it is vitally important, for the sake of the animals, that you find the time to contribute. Then, together, we can truly make a difference!

Born Free’s guide to completing the public consultation survey

Access the public consultation survey here