Year Of The Lion … A Year of Anniversaries

There are some anniversaries that you would rather forget – particularly as you get older – like your birthday!

But there are others that you want to treasure or celebrate.

2016 is littered with anniversaries.

It is 50 years since the film Born Free received its Royal Premier on 14th March 1966 in the presence of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.  The pictures of mum and dad being presented to The Queen are still deeply moving.

It is 32 years since The Born Free Foundation, then Zoo Check, was born on 19th March.  It truly does not seem more than a few years ago since a small band of like-minded individuals gathered in that room in Chelsea and six of us, including my Mum and Dad, put £1 in the hat – and the rest is history.  That meeting reminds me of Margaret Mead’s famous quote “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

It is 27 years since George Adamson was so brutally and callously murdered in Kenya, losing his life rushing to the rescue of a guest who had travelled to his camp and who had been waylaid by murderous bandits near the airstrip.  George, and the way he lived his life, mentor me.

It is 24 years since we helped fly three of the last captive dolphins within the UK to freedom and effectively ended the exploitation of the species in the UK.

It is 22 years since my Dad passed away.  His vision, determination and compassion continues to guide Born Free in everything we do and the way we think every single day.

It is 14 years since, after 15 years of work, led by Born Free, Europe adopted the European Zoos Directive bringing some sense of order and minimum welfare standards to the 3,500 or more zoos across the Union.  It is imperfect and it could be better but we are far better off with it than without it.

It is also 14 years since Born Free USA began to deliver our message of compassionate conservation to millions of caring citizens across the United States.

It is 4 years since the then UK coalition government announced that it would end the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in England – a pledge repeated by the Prime Minister in writing to Virginia only a few weeks ago.  The Government still has to find the Parliamentary time to deliver on its promise but it is one that we and millions of others will hold them to.

2016 is the Year of the Lion, a species in peril.  Numbers are down from perhaps 100,000 fifty years ago to 20,000 today.  There is no time to lose.

So, what better anniversary than 2016 to make a pledge to join hands and to work together for lions and all the world’s beleaguered wildlife species, and individual animals who suffer unnecessarily because of what we as humans do to them. With our combined efforts countless animals can look to a brighter more compassionate future if we all play our part.

But the bottom line is, it doesn’t need to be a special anniversary in order for us to do something. Protecting and conserving threatened species, safe-guarding wild animal welfare and helping the world’s most disenfranchised communities are things we can do each and every day.

Let’s get cracking!

Blogging off.

Will

P.S. My mother and I recently reflected on the #YearOfTheLion … Watch it here!

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