Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

I'm Wild About...

Rula with orphan elephants in Kenya

Actress, Patron and longterm Born Free supporter Rula Lenska tells us the things that drive her wild.

I first came across Born Free in the days when it was still Zoo Check and Elefriends in particular.  Virginia had always been a heroine of mine, so meeting her and Bill was a huge thrill, as well as being asked to become involved in saving animals from humiliating captive situations.  

The first big project I was involved in was ‘Into the Blue’.  To rescue the poor incarcerated dolphins and take them out to the beautiful Turks and Caicos islands and put them back into the great blue see where they belonged.  Of course I was one of the people of whom I suspect there were many who had seen dolphin shows and fallen in love with these great and graceful mammals, but I had always believed as I had been told by trainers that they enjoyed performing.  So my eyes were opened and I was so thrilled to be part of their rescue mission.  

And then of course Elefriends, was very dear to my heart.  I have spent quite a lot of time with elephants on safaris with Colonel Blasford Snell in India and Nepal.  And again was completely bowled over by these gentle giants.  It was an amazing experience.  I also became involved with Daphne Sheldrick after narrating a programme about her life, and have since then always had adopted babies in Kenya.  I admire and love her very much.  In fact £20,000 from my dubious Big Brother experience went to her.

Hard to say what my favourite wild animal is, as I love them all.  But I guess elephants hold a very special place in my heart.  They share so many of our human characteristics.  And although huge, are so gentle and so intelligent and I love the way the matriarchal herds are so protective and loving.  Dolphins of course as well, for their grace and playfulness and spiritual qualities.  And of course the great cats for their majesty.  And the great apes.  A visit to the gorillas with Ian Redmond is my great great dream.

My special place I think would be out in Tsavo in Kenya.  Again I have been lucky enough to film out there for a documentary about wildlife artist Gary Hodges who is well known to Born Free supporters.  He is a dear friend and a wonderful artist and we had a wonderful time there.  Also I have spent time at the nursery of teenage orphans at Voi.  I talked at length with the keepers and spent time with them and the elephants during their rehabilitation time - such a privilege.

The jungle in Nepal was also a magical place.  Living in little tents deep in nature surrounded by sounds and sights which made you realise how important it is to keep these beautiful wild places for the animals.

For me the best way to relax would be ideally in one of these beautiful reserves, surrounded with the sights and sounds of nature.  Reading a good book, going out with conservation orientated guides and seeing wondrous sights as animals go about their daily lives.  Sunshine, warmth and talking to like-minded people.

The soundtrack of my life... music and nature sounds, whether it’s the ocean, or the tinkle of waterfalls, or the dawn chorus in some beautiful wild space.  Or the sound of tigers making love as you sit in your little tent in the jungle.  Standing against the trunk of an elephant as it rumbles its amazing deep bass communication. Dolphins pinging and trilling.  Children laughing in pure joy.  Babies lying asleep contented in your arms breathing softly.  And of course a lover whispering soft nothings in your ears.  Sound is so important, and so capable of bringing back memories.  One of my beloved pieces of music is Kiki Dee singing ‘Born Free’.

I am passionate about all animal causes.  I believe that all is connected as Chief Seattle said in his famous epic: "Man did not create the web of life... he is just a strand in it.”  I cannot bear cruelty.  Animals like us are sentient beings.  They feel pain and loss and maybe even love.  They have as much right to freedom as we have.  And they are on this earth for a reason.  Everything we destroy has a knock on effect as we already know.  And animals cannot speak for themselves, at least not in a language we can understand.

The environmental issue that drives me mad is huge four wheel drives in unnecessary places.  No regard for the use of fuel.  People who do not recycle.  Waste - in all its forms.  Leaving rubbish lying around.  Refusing to accept that we each have a responsibility.  Animals used for entertainment using cruelty.  Tiny cramped captive accommodations for animals that need a lot of space.  Fur in all its forms used in fashion.  These are some of the issues that drive me nuts.

Everyone could help the world be a better place by sharing.  By caring about their neighbours.  By thinking carefully about looking after their environment.  By being careful and responsible about the uses of fuel.  Turning out lights and turning down heating.  Thinking about the carbon  footprint when flying.  Using hybrid cars. Standing up for environmental issues.  Recycling everything within the home.  And upholding organisations like Born Free who give all their energy to making the lot of animals a better one.

I am wild about Born Free because they do all their work with tremendous passion, they never let up and never give in.  Virginia is a beacon of hope, a great wonderful earth mother who should be a Dame of the British Empire by now.  Will her son who with the same passion and determination has taken on the mantle from his parents.  Born Free is an organisation that has made a huge difference.  And a force to be reckoned with, and I am proud to be part of the family.

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

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