This is a very personal message. If we could write to each and every one of you by hand, we would. This is from the heart.
These are strange and disturbing times. We really don’t know what the future will hold. But, we know that doing nothing is not an option. Our charity, our precious Born Free, a central part of our lives for over three decades since we helped create it with Bill all those years ago, represents all we hold dear, all we strive for, all we hope to achieve – often against the odds.
A kinder, more compassionate world, where all life is respected and allowed to live as nature intended.
Throughout the challenges of 2020, we have held close to our hearts the kindness and generosity of so many people around the world – our Born Free Family – who have stood by us and the values that unite us through thick and thin. Since February, when the pandemic began to sweep across the planet, we have done what we can to make sure Born Free not only survives but, comes out the other side – whenever that comes – stronger and more effective than ever before.
We continue to make great strides. Our welfare work – for individual animals in our sanctuaries, the lions, leopards, cheetah, primates, and many other species that rely on us for their very survival – has continued without missing a beat. Our policy work – massively impacted as meeting after meeting was shelved or abandoned – has, nevertheless, risen to new heights. Maybe COVID-19 has caused even our elected leaders to reflect on the need to try and make things better, pollute less, exploit less, and care more?
Our education work – potentially dealt such a blow as schools closed and face-to-face meetings ended – has pivoted and delivered outstanding educational resources to tens of thousands of students and teachers in the UK and around the world, online into the home. Our conservation work – threatened by lockdown and travel bans – has taken on board all the necessary precautions and returned to the field, and the animals, just as soon as it was safe to do so.
We have cut costs at every opportunity. We have not authorised a flight since the end of February. We have seamlessly left our office and moved to work from home, using technology to ensure we are in touch and contactable at all times. And, we are not going back. For some, including Born Free, the era of the office is over. Moving forward we shall be adaptive, cost-effective, light on our feet, meet when we can, harness Zoom and Skype and forge ahead – because there truly is no time to waste.
And, we mean that. No time to waste. When we started challenging zoos and circuses in 1984, we thought we could change the world in under 10 years. It has taken longer, the work is not over, but we still believe! Up until this point, we have been frugal but not cut corners, relentless with the resources at our disposal, committed to getting the most out of every pound we receive. We have not asked for help beyond the extraordinary generosity of our supporters because we are all in this together. We must make it – and we will.
But, we must be honest. Times are tight. Our budget is under pressure. The squeeze is well and truly on. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support and, indeed, your love.
And so, with the greatest respect, we have a request. As the year moves towards its end, and as we all look forward with uncertainly but with hope to a brighter year ahead, one of peace, compassion, togetherness and a unity of purpose, if you have room for Born Free we would deeply appreciate it.
By adopting an animal, or purchasing a Born Free gift, or making an extra donation, you will help us not just survive, but thrive. It is your decision and we know, for many of you, it is not an easy one, with so many other pressures right now. Whatever you decide, we thank you on behalf of animals in need everywhere. For your time. For your kindness. And, for your generosity of spirit.
We are family.
With thanks and best wishes from
Virginia McKenna OBE & Will Travers OBE
Co-Founder & Trustee, and Executive President & Co-Founder