A male lion lying on the savannah with the wind blowing his mane

About Us

Play video Will Travers and Virginia McKenna are stood side by side in the back of a truck in bright sunlight

We Are Born Free

Founded by Virginia McKenna DBE, Will Travers OBE and Bill Travers MBE in 1984, we work tirelessly to stop the exploitation and suffering of wild animals, whether living in captivity or in the wild. From the start, we’ve campaigned for a future where animals and people can coexist and where threatened and endangered species are protected for generations to come.


We work tirelessly to ensure that all wild animals, whether living in captivity or in the wild, are treated with compassion and respect and are able to live their lives according to their needs.

As a leading wildlife charity, we oppose the exploitation of wild animals in captivity and campaign to keep them where they belong – in the wild.

We promote Compassionate Conservation to enhance the survival of threatened species in the wild and protect natural habitats while respecting the needs and safeguarding the welfare of individual animals.

We seek to have a positive impact on animals in the wild and protect their ecosystems in perpetuity, for their own intrinsic value and for the critical roles they play within the natural world.

Our Work

A woman stands with her back to the camera, facing a crowd of dozens of Kenyan school children sitting on the ground

Conservation & Communities

Born Free is committed to protecting threatened species in their natural habitats and preventing animal suffering, by building sustainable systems for coexistence and working with local communities.
A young lion sits draped over a log facing the camera

Rescue & Care

Wild animals at our sanctuaries and rescue centres are given lifetime care and spacious environments where they can live out their days in the peace and respect they need and deserve.
Close up of a lion leaning its head against bars


We work across the world to stop captive animal suffering, challenge the captive animal industry, call for better legislation and protection, and phase out zoos.
A cheetah cub looks through the bars of an animal carrier crate

Wildlife Trade

We campaign for the welfare of wild animals at the highest level to ensure the best possible outcome for wildlife, including the illegal trade in wildlife, trophy hunting, canned hunting, and much more.
Beautiful mist over green forest on mountain, Aerial view sunrise over the mountain range at the north of thailand, Beauty rainforest landscape with fog in morning.

Climate Change

We are committed to reducing our impact on the environment and our contribution to global warming and addressing both climate change and biodiversity loss through our work.
School children in blue jumpers sitting with their hands raised

UK Education

In the UK, our Education Programme aims to reach children and young people both in schools and out, instilling a love of wildlife and helping to encourage personal, local action to help protect wild animals.

Our History

In 1966, Virginia McKenna DBE and Bill Travers MBE starred in the classic wildlife film Born Free. The film told the true story of conservationists Joy and George Adamson who rescued a lioness cub called Elsa and successfully returned her to the wild.

Virginia and Bill went on to make several wildlife films together, including in 1969 An Elephant Called Slowly with an elephant calf called Pole Pole (pronounced Poly Poly). When filming was over, Pole Pole was gifted to London Zoo by the Kenyan government. Virginia and Bill did everything they could to prevent this, but Pole Pole was sent to London.

In 1982, Virginia and Bill went to visit Pole Pole at the zoo. Pole Pole, in clear distress, remembered Virginia and Bill and stretched out her trunk to reach them.

Virginia and Bill launched a campaign to give Pole Pole a better life but in 1983, aged 16, Pole Pole died. Determined that her death would not be in vain, in 1984, Virginia, Bill and their eldest son Will launched Zoo Check – the charity that has evolved into Born Free. Today, Will Travers OBE is Born Free's Executive President, and Virginia McKenna DBE is a Trustee.
Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna with Pole Pole the elephant

Our History

Learn more about the inspiration behind the charity Born Free and how the charity started.
Pole Pole the elephant with Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers


Find out about Born Free's unique history, shaped by some inspiring and much-loved individuals.
Will Travers, Virginia McKenna, and Bill Travers sat together

Our Co-Founders

Find out more about the inspirational people behind Born Free - Bill Travers MBE, Dame Virginia McKenna DBE, & Will Travers OBE.

Who we work with

Born Free works with a wide range of celebrities, artists and photographers, who generously support us with their time and donations.
Joanna Lumley stands at a podium, while the shadow of an elephant puppet is on the wall

Our Patrons

We are delighted to be supported by a number of high-profile Patrons who share our determination to bring about positive change for wild animals and actively champion our projects and campaigns.
A pot filled with paintbrushes


Born Free is fortunate to work with a wide range of talented artists, who have supported the charity generously.
A camera pointing at a sunset landscape


Born Free is lucky to work with and be supported by some of the best wildlife photographers around the world, whose emotive images help us tell the stories of wild animals, whether in the wild, in captivity, or after being rescued.
A Born Free vehicle driving through dusty landscape

Partnerships and Coalitions

The Born Free Foundation works in close collaboration with many like-minded campaign groups around the world.

Meet Our Team

Meet the people behind the action – a team of like-minded individuals sharing the same goals, working together to secure a better future for wild animals.

Meet the Team

Find out more

Find out more about our work, by reading our latest news articles and blogs.
Michael Mugo, Pride of Meru Programme Manager, speaking at the National Museums of Kenya conference

Born Free attends key conference in Kenya

Our team has played a vital role in an international scientific conference in Kenya – a ground-breaking exploration of development, conservation and climate change.
Cattle standing in a line eating grass

Village saving groups benefit hundreds of families in Kenya

To create a platform to involve communities in conservation, Born Free is helping establish dozens of local saving groups in Kenya, benefitting hundreds of families. Elizabeth Yiambaine, Education Officer for Amboseli, Kenya reports.