Virginia McKenna OBE and Bill Travers MBE co-founded The Born Free Foundation, along with their eldest son Will Travers OBE, in 1984.
Virginia is a leading wildlife campaigner, actress and author. Bill, who sadly died in March 1994, was a wildlife campaigner, actor, screenwriter and director.
The couple were well known for starring as conservationists Joy and George Adamson in the 1966 film Born Free, telling the iconic story of orphaned lioness Elsa, who was successfully rehabilitated and returned to the wild. The role transformed the direction of both of their lives and careers, and helped spark a lifelong mission to protect wild animals and Keep Wildlife in the Wild.
Bill and Virginia were deeply moved by the plight of Pole Pole, the elephant – who appeared alongside them in the 1969 film An Elephant Called Slowly – who was later gifted to London Zoo by the Kenyan government following filming, and sadly died in captivity before she was able to be taken to a sanctuary. This event, along with their deep-rooted love for wildlife and nature sparked when filming Born Free, led to them setting up our charity.
Today, Virginia is still actively involved with Born Free and serves as a Trustee.
Born Free is committed to preventing animal suffering and protecting threatened species in their natural habitats. We work to end any activities that negatively impact wild animals living in captivity.
Together we can secure a forever future for lions. Please donate today.
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Clockwise from top: Virginia and Bill's sculpture; Bill Travers walking with a young lion during filming; Virginia McKenna with a young lion during filming.
Image credits: © Born Free Foundation. Artistic representation by Gillie and Marc.