Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Issues of concern

1. Poor conditions in zoos

Chimp (c) BFF
A tiny traumatised chimp, on show in Portugal

The majority of zoo enclosures lack sufficient quantity and quality of space, despite advances by some zoos to provide their animals with a more naturalistic captive environment.  Legislation specific to the welfare and husbandry of captive animals does exist in some regions of the World, such as Europe, North America and Australia.  If properly enforced this legislation should provide captive animals with their basic welfare needs. However, in Thailand, Spain, Africa, Eastern Europe, and South East Asia, in particular, animals can be found in appalling conditions. Help Born Free help improve the lives of these animals and phase-out zoos.

More information can be found on our UK Zoo section and in our Overseas Zoos

2. Animal performances in zoos

Many zoos feature animal shows, with wild animals performing for the public. The majority are trained, often using force and horrific techniques, to perform unnatural, circus-like stunts. Elephants standing on their heads or walking a tight-rope, parrots and orangutans riding bicycles and tigers balancing on horseback are just some of the examples reported to Born Free. Help us stop these performances and make a difference to the lives of these animals.

More information in Circuses and performing animals

3. Animal circuses

Wild animals are still exhibited and used by travelling circuses in the UK, Europe and across the world.  The majority of circus animals are kept in incredibly inadequate living conditions, the emphasis seemingly on ease of travel and minimising costs, rather than animal welfare. You can help Born Free identify the numbers of circuses that exist and the animals they use. This information will aid our work in seeking to ban the use of all wild animals, as a priority, in circuses.

More information in Circuses and performing animals

4. Use of animals as photographic props

Lady holding a tiger cub (c) BFF Supporter
There is a big industry in 'cute' animals used for tourist photos

Lion and tiger cubs, chimpanzees, gibbons, parrots, snakes and even turtles have been reported to the Born Free Foundation as being used as photographic props. This is particularly common in popular tourist resorts including Spain, Mexico and Thailand where visitors are targeted to pay to have their photograph taken holding one of these, or similar animals. In the majority of cases the animals suffer cramped and inadequate living conditions; are drugged, ‘de-clawed’ and ‘de-fanged’; and once they become too large to handle, face an uncertain future in a ‘slum’ zoo, circus, or worse. Born Free wants to convince authorities that this type of exploitation cannot continue.

More information in: Wild Animals as Photographic props - PDF 53KB

5. Dancing bears

A traditional form of entertainment in Eastern Europe and the Indian Sub Continent, the use of bears in this way has largely been outlawed yet dancing bears can still be seen in Russia and India. Young bears are captured from the wild, abused, maimed and trained using traditional but barbaric techniques to respond to music by standing on their hind legs and seemingly ‘dance’. Dancing bears have ceased in Bulgaria, following international outrage, and all the bears have been rescued. Please help Born Free eradicate this horrific exploitation in other parts of the World.

More information in: Dancing Bear PDF 119KB

6. Dolphins and whales in captivity

Hundreds of captive dolphins and whales are kept in inadequate conditions in zoos and dolphinaria across the world, predominantly in tourist resorts. The majority have been taken from the wild, deprived of their freedom and choice, and trained to perform unnatural behaviour to entertain a growing demand for dolphinaria. Born Free is working to raise greater awareness about the plight of captive cetaeca, as well as raise concerns about their use in ‘swim-with’ activities.

More information in our Captive Whales and Dolphins section

7. Concerns related to wildlife viewing

Despite the availability of some good practice guidance, the viewing of wildlife in the wild is often abused: safari jeeps veering off road; whale-watching boats chasing dolphins; interference and encroachment; and in some cases encouraging tourists to have direct contact with the wild animals. These are examples of bad practice. Please help Born Free ensure tourist operators respect wildlife in the wild, by informing us of such bad practice.

More information in our Travellers’ Tips PDF 296KB

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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