Black and white photo of Pole Pole the elephant reaching out her trunk to Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers
  • Virtual
  • The Elephant and The Dame

    • Date:
    • Time: 18:30 - 20:00
    • Location: The best seat in YOUR house! (Online)
    • Admission fee: Donate what you can
    Book now


    Honouring Born Free’s past, to change the future

    Join Born Free to remember Pole Pole the young elephant – our charity’s original inspiration, and celebrate our beloved Co-Founder Virginia McKenna – made a Dame in this year’s New Year Honours, for her devotion to wild animals.

    Hosted by Virginia’s son, our Executive President Will Travers OBE, the unique online event will include films, poignant memories, special guests and the latest about Born Free’s work for elephants.

    The evening will pay tribute to Pole Pole, whose shocking death at London Zoo, 40 years ago this October, led to the start of our charity. Founded by Virginia, her husband Bill Travers MBE and their son Will, our mission continues to this day to end captive elephant exploitation and support their conservation in the wild.

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    Virginia McKenna, looking over her shoulder into the distance

    (c) Blake McGrow

    Join us to also honour our very own wildlife champion and queen of compassion, Dame Virginia McKenna. Passionately devoted to wild animals, Virginia has always been actively involved in Born Free, from investigating zoos to rescuing big cats, joining marches and rallies, and lobbying decision makers.

    A world-acclaimed actress, Virginia has been a star of stage and screen for more than 70 years. Her exceptional career includes Carve Her Name With Pride, A Town Like Alice, The King and I with Yul Brynner in the West End and, of course, Born Free. Voted one of the most inspirational people of all time in a Daily Telegraph poll, she is our charity’s trustee and guiding star, keeping us true to the values established nearly 40 years ago.

    Book your ticket now to celebrate Virginia, pay tribute to Pole Pole and raise vital funds for elephants. Thank you for sharing our vision of a kinder, better future!


    Bidding for our online auction is now open!

    You can view all the lots for our online auction using the button below, and bidding is open now – no need to wait for the event to begin! Bidding will close at 9pm on 18th October.


    *Please note: Completing the ticket process is necessary to generate your personal online link to be able to join the event. If you have any issues registering, please email